Arnold & Porter in LA swoops for IT and showbiz niche firm

Washington DC firm Arnold & Porter is dramatically increasing its Los Angeles practice by taking over a niche IT and entertainment firm.

It is acquiring Blanc Williams Johnston & Kronstadt in a move which adds 12 lawyers and expands its intellectual property and technology practice to 60 lawyers worldwide.

Eight of the lawyers join Arnold & Porter as partners, heralding a boost to the firm’s strategy of building an international high-tech practice.

Blanc Williams does corporate legal work for high-tech clients including America Online, Microsoft and Network Solutions as well as prominent actors and film-makers.

The firm also has an office in Century City, near Beverly Hills, which Arnold & Porter will keep on as its second office in Los Angeles for entertainment work.

London managing partner Fern O’Brian says: “It’s a significant step for us in terms of expanding our IP and technology practice. We have had a very strong focus on this area for some years but these recent additions really build it up to meet client demand.”

Blanc Williams IP partner Ron Johnston says his firm needs more resources.

He says: “From my point of view, as our industry has grown so has the need for greater resources and deeper expertise in certain areas of practice such as public policy, so this makes excellent sense for us.”

Arnold & Porter, which has offices in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Denver and London, is trying to expand its ability to provide intellectual property litigation and transactional services across the US.

In Los Angeles the firm now has about 60 lawyers doing litigation, anti-trust and trade regulation, employment, IP, corporate, securities and real estate work.

In London the 530-lawyer firm is boosting its IT/IP and telecoms practices in line with the US.

Last month it took on Coudert Brothers telecoms partner Michael Ryan (The Lawyer, 5 June) and it has just recruited Ian Kirby as a partner specialising in intellectual property litigation. Kirby was previously an associate with DLA.