Alan Miles & Associates Helps Well-Known Veteran Partner Find Right Platform

William-Arthur Haynes

Daily Journal

November 29, 2006

Real Estate Mainstay Moves to Davis Wright for National Base
SAN FRANCISCO - Davis Wright Tremaine's bankruptcy and creditors' rights practice scored a boost this month with the San Francisco office's acquisition of Steefel, Levitt & Weiss mainstay Harvey S. Schochet.

Schochet, most recently the chairman of Steefel Levitt's real estate and financial services practice, is a 30-year veteran in distressed commercial, real estate, agricultural and investment matters.

Schochet said that, while the departure was amicable, the time had come to move his practice to a firm with greater geographic reach and a broader practice base. Davis Wright, a 400-attorney firm with eight U.S. locations and a Shanghai outpost, presented an opportunity to expand his practice to the Pacific Northwest and East Coast that did not exist at the smaller, regional Steefel Levitt, he said.

Schochet said several clients would follow him in the move, though he declined to specify any by name.

Davis Wright's credit recovery and bankruptcy practice stands at 25 attorneys in seven offices from Anchorage, Alaska., to Los Angeles. Steefel Levitt, an 80-attorney firm in two California offices and Stamford, Conn., maintains four or five offices depending how you count, Schochet said.

"Frankly, as a I took a look at firms around the country, I really was drawn more to Davis Wright's Northwest culture than the culture of most other national firms," Schochet said. "This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for me because there are 20-plus workout and bankruptcy lawyers along the West Coast."

Schochet spent his entire 32 years practicing at the firm that became known as Steefel, Levitt & Weiss. He joined Dinkelspiel Pelavin Steefel & Levitt in 1974 and was among Steefel, Levitt & Weiss' founding partners on Jan. 1, 1981. He spent seven years on Steefel Levitt's management committee and served as firm chairman for a time.

Barry W. Lee, Steefel Levitt's current chairman, called Schochet a close personal friend and colleague dating back to their days at Dinkelspiel.

"For what Harvey wants to do, it represents a good option for him at this point in his career," Lee said. "We're essentially a couple offices without any plans to start opening here and there and jump ourselves into the 300- to 400-lawyer category."

Lee said he was certain Schochet and Steefel Levitt would have opportunities to collaborate on matters. Schochet said he planned to maintain his long-standing ties with his Steefel Levitt colleagues.

"I have many, many friends there, and I hope to continue those relationships and enjoy, frankly, a referral relationship," Schochet said.

 

Schochet's familiarity with Davis Wright dates back 15 years.

After speaking with attorneys at the firm and learning what he didn't already know, "it was apparent to me that Davis Wright probably has the broadest and deepest workout, creditors' rights and bankruptcy team on the West Coast."

Joseph M. VanLeuven, chairman of Davis Wright's credit recovery and bankruptcy group, said the firm hasn't had an attorney with Schochet's expertise that would allow the firm to grow the practice.

"We have a client base which is both regional and national, and it's been a goal of ours for a long time to build our creditors' rights expertise in San Francisco in particular and in California in general," VanLeuven said.

A number of the group's clients have business in San Francisco, and the firm has become increasingly involved in cases that are difficult to staff from a distance, he said.

"You want someone on the ground that knows the territory, that knows the judges and is able to work the case physically from the locations," VanLeuven said. "Harvey fits the bill very, very well."

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