Reed Smith Signs Up Nine Ex-Thelen Labor Attorneys

Rebecca U. Cho

Daily Journal

November 6, 2008

Reed Smith snatched a highly coveted, nine-attorney labor and employment group from the dissolving Thelen, including prominent Los Angeles partners Thomas E. Hill and Linda S. Husar. The group starts with the Pittsburgh-based firm on Monday.

Husar was the national chair of Thelen's labor and employment practice. Hill most recently served as Thelen's Los Angeles managing partner and as a member of the office of the chair. He is one of three people on Thelen's dissolution committee.

The pair brings to Reed Smith its longtime clients Kaiser Permanente and Ralphs Grocery Company.

Reed Smith won a heated race against several firms, including Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to secure the group of five partners and four associates. The other labor and employment partners joining are Deborah Broyles in San Francisco and Remy Kessler and Steven Katz in Los Angeles.

Hill said about 40 firms reached out to his group in the last month, but they chose Reed Smith because of its growth and commitment to client services. He also noted his admiration for the firm's fiscal management.

"They kept their eye on the ball in terms of managing their firm in a conservative manner, a responsible manner, which is obviously important for folks coming out of a situation like Thelen," Hill said. "You don't want to jump from the fire to a frying pan."

In other Thelen moves, Farella Braun + Martel grabbed four transactional partners and two associates in San Francisco from the dying firm. The partners include estate planning and tax attorneys George T. Argyris and Barbara Anne Murphy, corporate attorney Philip W. Peters and real estate attorney Richard M. Shapiro.

In New York, Reed Smith also hired from Thelen as of counsel Thomas Igoe, Jr., formerly a Thelen corporate and securities partner who served as chairman of the firm from 2003 to 2005, when it was Thelen Reid & Priest.

Reed Smith's acquisition of the labor group adds to the 14 renewable energy attorneys it acquired from Thelen, including rainmaker Ellen Bastier, who joined Reed Smith last week in San Francisco, New York and New Jersey.

Hill and Husar, who have worked as a team for nearly 30 years, had been with Thelen since 1996 when they joined from Musick, Peeler & Garrett. Husar handles a high-stakes litigation practice. Hill focuses on class action defense and appellate work.

Together they bring a book of business worth about $10 million.

The 1,500-lawyer Reed Smith had been looking to expand its labor and employment reach in California for some time, said Kurt Peterson, a Los Angeles partner and member of Reed Smith's executive committee. Before the Thelen group, the employment practice had about 100 lawyers, most of whom were located on the East Coast. The Los Angeles office has about 80 attorneys.

"We have made significant strides building an employment practice in California, but this, in terms of the depth, expertise, national name recognition, this takes us to a whole new level," Peterson said.

After a steady stream of partner departures and failed merger talks in the last year, Thelen announced its plans for dissolution in a partnership meeting on Oct. 28. The firm will cease operations on Dec. 1.

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