Manatt Phelps Recruits Litigator From Coudert
January 18, 2002 - In a major move to beef up its Bay Area presence, Los Angeles' Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has nabbed prominent litigator Ronald Katz from the San Francisco office of Coudert Brothers.
"Our litigation in Southern California has been growing in power and capability by leaps and bounds," Paul Irving, chief executive and managing partner of Manatt Phelps, said. "It's critical for us to export that same type of prominence to Northern California."
The deal became final Tuesday night. Katz gave 30 days' notice to Coudert and will start at Manatt Phelps' Palo Alto office no later than Feb. 14.
In his 14 years at Coudert, Katz has developed a rainmaking litigation practice focused on antitrust, high technology and intellectual property matters.
His practice typically has generated in excess of $5 million in revenues annually.
Additionally, Katz served as managing partner of New York-based Coudert's four California offices from 1993 to 2000.
From March 2000 to September 2001, Katz served on the five-partner executive committee of the firm, which has 650 attorneys and 33 offices worldwide.
"Manatt has a tremendous strength in big-ticket litigation and [has] every need for a seasoned litigator in Northern California," Katz said.
Katz also said he was attracted by the opportunity to play a leadership role in growing Manatt Phelps' Northern California litigation practice.
"The building process is an exciting one," he said.
Robert Christopher, managing partner of Coudert's San Francisco, San Jose and Palo Alto offices, said that the firm's growth in the region - by 30 percent to 50 percent over the last few years, to 65 attorneys - has made it less dependent on Katz's practice.
"It's not as big of a hit as it would have been a few years ago," he said.
Manatt Phelps first established a Silicon Valley presence in July 1998 with a five-attorney Menlo Park office. Then, in May 1999, it acquired Palo Alto's Wise & Shepard, a 15-attorney high-tech boutique firm.
Manatt Phelps stayed in Palo Alto, where it now has approximately 35 attorneys. About a third of the office works on litigation matters, Irving said.
"For some time, it's been a strategic focus to find the right person to lead that office's litigation practice," San Diego legal recruiter Larry Watanabe said.
Watanabe brokered the Katz deal and the 1999 acquisition of Wise & Shepard.
Irving said the Katz acquisition is just a starting point for a major buildup of the firm's Northern California litigation practice in 2002.
Manatt Phelps is a full-service firm with 260 attorneys spread across offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.
The firm also has about 45 consultants that either support the practice groups or work for its consulting subsidiary, Manatt Jones Global Strategies, which was launched in October 2000.
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