Alan Miles & Associates is pleased to have made the connection between Davis Wright Tremaine and Cole, Raywid & Braverman

Robert Iafolla

Daily Journal

November 29, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Davis Wright Tremaine is set to acquire Washington, D.C.-based Cole, Raywid & Braverman, a communications and Internet law boutique, at the start of 2007, the firms announced Tuesday.

By absorbing the 35 Cole Raywid lawyers, Davis Wright will grow to 455 attorneys, more than double the firm's roster in the nation's capital, and expand its communications, media and technology practice group to 120 lawyers.

The planned union between the two media-friendly firms makes good business sense, according to industry observers.

"The legal marketplace is a mature marketplace, so it's common for participants to segment the market and go after niches," said William F. Brennan, a principal at the consulting firm Altman Weil who specializes in financial management and merger counseling. "More and more mergers are about emphasizing depth, with firms adding strength to strength."

Each side stands to benefit from the merger, which features strategic expansion in a specific region and practice area, Valerie Fontaine of the legal search firm Seltzer Fontaine Beckwith said.

"These are the kinds of mergers we are seeing more frequently now," Fontaine said.

William Vochoska of the Los Angeles-based legal search firm Alan Miles & Associates brokered the merger.

For Davis Wright, the chance to expand its Federal Communications Commission regulatory practice, both in the number of attorneys and the scope of its expertise, served as a primary driver for the merger, said Suzanne K. Toller, chair of the firm's telecommunications practice group.

Furthermore, she noted, Davis Wright's experience in dealing with the California Public Utilities Commission could bring work from Cole Raywid's cable television clients.

"California is a significant market for them, but it's hard to do that from 3,000 miles away," Toller said. "So we'll have opportunities to do more PUC work for a broader number of clients, and, for our California clients, the expanded FCC presence will make them more likely to use us for federal matters."

Cole Raywid liked the opportunity to increase its resources dramatically, managing partner Steven J. Horvitz said.

"We were comfortable with being a boutique, but we recognized a lot of areas that existing clients had needs, but we couldn't meet them," Horvitz said.

These needs include its privacy law, litigation and commercial transaction practice, he said.

Cable television pioneer Jack Cole founded Cole Raywid in 1966, and Horvitz said the cable distribution industry remains the firm's focus, although it also represents telecommunication and content providers.

Firm clients include Comcast Communications Corp., the California Cable Telecommunications Association, the Discovery Channel, the Weather Channel and Charter Communications Inc.

Seattle-based Davis Wright, a full-service law firm with nine offices, is known for its expertise in media law. For example, partner Kelli L. Sager represents clients that include the Los Angeles Times, Paramount Pictures Corp., Conde Nast Publications Inc., Warner Bros. and New York Times Co.

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