Alston & Bird, Blank Rome, California

Is Opening in L.A. Really a Good Idea Right Now?

California expansion love.jpgThe National Law Journal reports that eight firms have opened up offices in Los Angeles during the recession. Is this really going to work? We’ve already established that the San Francisco legal market is about as relevant as an aging hippie. Are we sure that L.A. is the promised land?

According to the NLJ, firms have been capitalizing on the glut of available lawyers in California:

To do so, many firms, such as Snell & Wilmer, Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, Philadelphia’s Blank Rome and Lathrop & Gage of Kansas City, Mo., took the opportunity to snag lawyers who recently became available, largely due to dissolutions and economic conditions.

Let’s see, Blank Rome just laid off 79 people. Alston & Bird has been conducting stealth layoffs.

And just last week, Above the Law received some new information about Snell & Wilmer. Details after the jump.

Last week, we started receiving information that Snell & Wilmer (one of the biggest firms in Phoenix) had scaled back its summer program. In response, a firm spokesperson furnished Above the Law with this response:

Snell & Wilmer did limit our summer associate program to 8 weeks. We have also asked our new lawyers to start on December 1, 2009, unless they are interested in participating in our public service fellowship program for the upcoming year. The new lawyers, and those participating in the fellowship program will receive a stipend over and above that which we have traditionally provided.

So, I’m just asking, is this really the right time to be expanding into California? Really?

For several firms, the economic downturn has had little impact on their plans to establish a national platform by opening an office in California. Los Angeles, they discovered, appeared to be the right fit.

“California is a very fertile area for insurance coverage,” said Jerry Oshinsky, who opened the Los Angeles office of Gilbert Oshinsky in October after joining the firm, then called Gilbert Randolph. “When it’s a negative economy, insurance litigation goes in the opposite direction.”

If you say so. As we’ve said before, expanding during a recession is a neat trick — if you can pull it off.

Firms flock to open offices in Los Angeles area [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Blank Rome Cuts 79

Stealth Layoff Watch: Alston & Bird

(hidden for your protection)

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