Sheppard Mullin builds on New York expansion

Los Angeles-based firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton has seen tenfold growth in its East Coast presence in the past year, but has no plans to rest on its laurels.

It plans to more than double the size of its New York practice in the coming year, and has plans to open its first foreign office in China by mid-2006.

Robert Gilbert is the latest partner to join Sheppard Mullin, creating an IP group. Gilbert joined from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Chairman Guy Halgren told The Lawyer that the firm is ahead of schedule in its expansion plans, after opening in New York in September 2004. The addition of Gilbert means the firm has 11 partners and a total of 40 fee-earners in New York.

“We did not expect to be in this position before the end of the calendar year, so we’re pretty happy with where we are right now,” said Halgren. “We started out with just four attorneys and now we have 40, so it’s been a pretty quick expansion, but we’re just hitting our stride.”

The firm aims to have 100 fee-earners in New York by the end of 2006.

The firm looked at mergers with boutique firms in Man-hattan before deciding that opening an office from scratch was the preferred option.

“We went to New York with a number of key objectives – to develop a national litigation practice, to connect our entertainment and media practice between the two coasts and connect our finance and banking practices nationally,” said Halgren.

The firm has a large Hollywood-based entertainment and media practice, and with the New York additions, now has 50 attorneys in the practice firmwide.

It has also established antitrust, corporate and IP practices in New York, and plans to add bankruptcy and labour as part of the expansion.