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Los Angeles Lateral Hiring Frenzy Is Not Slowing Down

Los Angeles, CA. Credit: blvdone/Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles. Credit: blvdone/Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles remains a hot market for lateral hiring among Am Law 200 firms.

Firms with roots outside of California, including Alston & Bird, Foley & Lardner, Greenberg Traurig, Covington & Burling and Fisher Phillips, have all expanded their LA practices in the past few weeks.

Atlanta-based Alston & Bird picked up Yuri Mikulka from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as a partner in its intellectual property group.

"The firm's California practice is growing, especially here in Los Angeles ... and offers me room to grow," Mikulka said. She added, "The firm is recognized for its exceptional culture for diversity and inclusion and it supports women leaders, which I see as a powerful differentiator from the other firms."

Yuri Mikulka, Alston & Bird.

Mikulka litigates patent, trademark and copyright infringement cases, as well as trade secret misappropriation and complex commercial disputes. According to the firm, she has over 20 years of experience counseling clients ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies in the U.S., and multinational companies based in Asia and Europe.

"California is a hotbed for IP litigation, especially these days," Mikulka said. "Many foreign companies, particularly those in Asia, have an office in California, or otherwise conduct business in California."

In addition, because of the U.S. Supreme Court's venue-limiting decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, patent filings are on the rise in California, she added. "There is a significant incentive for national firms to have a substantial practice in California that accommodates IP litigation."

With Mikulka’s addition, Alston & Bird has 107 attorneys in California, including 82 lawyers in Los Angeles. Last month, the firm added Scott Adamson, who was the founder and head of Vedder Price’s Los Angeles office, as a corporate partner in Los Angeles.

Alston & Bird also expanded its California presence by opening an office in San Francisco in 2017. The firm said it has six partners working out of San Francisco and seven partners in Silicon Valley.

Manatt did not respond to a request for comment on Mikulka's departure March 22.

Yuri Mikulka, Alston & Bird.

Litigators and Real Estate Lawyers

Miami-headquartered Greenberg Traurig also picked up a partner from Vedder Price’s Los Angeles office this month, hiring Lisa Simonetti, whose practice focuses on complex litigation defense.

Simonetti represents clients in the financial services industry, including credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, e-commerce companies, automotive finance companies, national banks, student lenders and savings and loan associations.

“I am thrilled to join a litigation team of this caliber and play a role in the growth of the practice and the Los Angeles office," Simonetti said in a statement. “I know my clients will benefit from Greenberg Traurig’s global platform and collaborative culture.”

Greenberg Traurig recently bolstered its California presence by adding three litigators in Sacramento and one intellectual property partner in Silicon Valley. The firm’s Los Angeles office last year hired Elizabeth Valentina, who was formerly in-house at Fox Entertainment Group.

Vedder Price did not respond to a request for comment on the recent departures.

Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner has announced that it added two Locke Lord attorneys, Kathleen Smalley and Phillip Hosp, to its Los Angeles office earlier this month. Smalley is of counsel in the firm’s real estate practice, while Hosp joined its business litigation and dispute resolution practice as a partner.

“They both have strong roots in the greater Los Angeles area and are heavily engaged in the community," Jeff Atkin, managing partner of Foley’s Los Angeles office, said in a statement. "Their local ties and depth of experience will be a tremendous asset to both our local and national clients.”

Smalley focuses her practice on real estate transactions and disputes. After serving as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, she served as general counsel for Trammell Crow Co., Crow Holdings and Catellus Development Corp.

Hosp, a veteran of the U.S. Army, handles litigation involving securities, real estate and corporate law claims. Hosp joined Locke Lord’s Los Angeles office from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in 2011.

Foley’s website shows the firm has about 72 attorneys in Los Angeles. The Midwest firm has had a presence in Los Angeles since 1996 when it merged with Weissburg and Aronson. In 2007, Foley opened a new office downtown, in addition to its existing Century City office.

Locke Lord did not respond to a request for comment.

In one more local move, Covington hired special counsel Ryan Weinstein, who most recently served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, to grow its commercial litigation practice in Los Angeles.

The East Coast-based firm is growing quickly in California, with about 150 lawyers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.

In addition to expanding its Southern California footprint, Covington also recently added Denny Kwon, a transactional lawyer from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and William Stern, a class action attorney from Morrison & Foerster, to its nearly 20-year-old San Francisco office.

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