Reed Smith Bolsters Its West Coast Practice

Maya Meinert, Staff Writer

Daily Journal

February 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith once again has expanded its West Coast practice, adding three lateral partners to its intellectual property and litigation practices.

Kathyleen "Kate" O'Brien, an intellectual property counselor and litigator, left Morrison & Foerster, where she had been for the last three years, to join Reed Smith's Century City office.

Entertainment litigator Mark D. Litvack and business litigator Henry C. Wang made the move from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. Litvack will practice in Reed Smith's Century City office, and Wang will be in the firm's downtown Los Angeles office.

The addition of the three attorneys last week is the latest in what has been a big push to expand Reed Smith's capabilities in California. The firm combined with Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May in 2003, giving it 200 attorneys in the state. Eleven more came when Reed Smith absorbed Walnut Creek firm Fleming & Phillips in 2005.

In December 2007, Reed Smith brought in three California insurance recovery attorneys from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. In January, litigation partner Tony L. Richardson joined Reed Smith from Kirkland & Ellis. The firm now has 116 partners in California, with 50 joining in the last three years.

"The California market is and always has been a very crucial market for the firm," said Lorenzo Gasparetti, leader of Reed Smith's West Coast commercial litigation practice group.

"The firm's operations in California, as a result of the merger with the Crosby Heafey firm, were very successful," he said. "It made it a national law firm."

"But now we're looking to put more attention on it, particularly with the addition of the Hong Kong office, which will ultimately have a positive impact on California opportunities," Gasparetti added.

O'Brien pointed to the compatibility between Reed Smith's practice areas and her own, which include advertising, media and technology, especially noting the firm's global presence in these areas and its focus on California.

"The firm is interested in expanding visibility on the West Coast and approached me about collaborating to do that," O'Brien said. "And the firm's approach to servicing and handling clients made it a good fit with me."

Gary Miles of legal recruiting firm Alan Miles & Associates brokered O'Brien's move.

"She can plug into a strong group of practitioners that connect with what she does, domestically and internationally," Miles said. "She's excited about being a part of a project that's building a practice in her speciality."

Morrison & Foerster could not be reached for comment.

O'Brien's practice focuses on trademark, copyright, advertising and antitrust matters, with much of the work involving litigation and a third dealing with counseling issues.

Though the 1978 Georgetown University Law Center graduate declined to name any of her clients, she said she expects to continue working for the clients she is servicing. O'Brien described her clients as consumer products and entertainment companies. Her past clients have included Eveready Battery Co. and Polaroid.

Litvack, 49, also said he expects to take all his clients with him in his move from Manatt. They include Sony Pictures, Activision and AOL-Time Warner, for which he is working on the recently announced split-off of its outdated Internet dial-up service.

In addition to what Litvack, a 1983 Northwestern University School of Law graduate, described as a business conflict that arose for him at Manatt, he cited Reed Smith's global capabilities as a reason for the jump.

"Their platform is truly special," Litvack said. "They are growing and have been grown internationally, which will give me the ability to help me grow my practice. To have worldwide coverage and the ability to help my clients 24/7 and to have people always available is a great advantage."

Reed Smith has 1,600 lawyers in 23 offices located in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Manatt has 375 attorneys in eight U.S. offices.

William Quicksilver, CEO and managing partner of Manatt, said that, although his firm continues to grow on both U.S. coasts, Manatt does not have plans to expand internationally.

"It's not our focus, but it's always something we evaluate," Quicksilver said. "Our strategic focus is on our four principal geographic markets - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York - which are dynamic and vital markets. And we are always evaluating opportunities to grow and expand."

Wang, who also made the move from Manatt and who has worked with Litvack on matters for AOL, practices general business litigation. He had been with Manatt for nine years and had been elevated to partner two years ago.

He called his departure from the firm "bittersweet" but noted Reed Smith's strengths in financial services and insurance litigation.

"[The firm] has everything that I need," Wang said. "I have clients that also have corporate and M&A needs. Reed Smith is in growth mode, and they think outside the box. That's very refreshing."

Among Wang's recent cases are a defamation case for a major Southern California Chinese newspaper and a patent-infringement case for a Taiwan-based client. He said he expects to continue servicing all his clients.

Wang, 38, is fluent in Mandarin and is a 1997 graduate of Tulane University School of Law. He said part of the draw to Reed Smith is the firm's presence in Asia, which he foresees being helpful to his clients.

Wendy Albers also joined Reed Smith last week as counsel. She will be part of the firm's appellate practice in Los Angeles, having previously practiced as counsel in the Encino appellate firm Horvitz & Levy.

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