Legal briefs: McKenna Long & Aldridge to merge with West Coast firm Luce Forward

McKenna Long Aldridge has 475 attorneys in 10 offices in the United States and Brussels; last year, it represented 10 of the 15 largest defense contractors based on total contracting dollars. Luce Forward has 140 lawyers in six California offices, with strong real estate and litigation practices.

“We took a long look at ways to better meet the growing needs of our clients on the West Coast,” McKenna Long Aldridge Chairman Jeff Haidet said. “The market for legal and regulatory work in California is growing, and Luce Forward’s statewide platform represented a perfect fit for our firm.”

The merger, which was in the works since last fall, prompted some Luce Forward partners to flee to other firms, according to the Daily Journal, which reported last week that the head of Luce Forward’s San Diego office and white collar defense practice was leaving for Jones Day.

Luce Forward Managing Partner Kurt Kicklighter said the combination will give his firm’s clients better access to government contracts and government affairs practices in Washington.

The Hildebrandt Institute, which tracks trends in the legal industry, predicts law firm mergers will rebound in 2012, continuing the uptick the market saw in 2011, when 45 mergers between U.S. law firms were completed — a 67 percent jump over 2010’s 27 mergers. Eleven mergers between U.S. law firms have been announced so far in 2012, almost double the six that were announced at this point in 2011.

Reed Smith hires partner from Sutherland Asbill

Tom Conner, previously a partner at Sutherland Asbill Brennan, has joined the financial industry group at Reed Smith, the firm announced last week.

Conner represents financial services institutions that issue and sell mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other financial and insurance-based products. Prior to joining Sutherland, he was general counsel of the Insured Retirement Institute and a staffer at the SEC’s Office of Disclosure and Investment Adviser Regulation and the Office of Insurance Products.

Justice Department lawyer returns to McDermott

After three years at the Justice Department, Warren Rosborough has rejoined McDermott Will Emery as a partner in the firm’s antitrust and compliance practice, continuing Washington firms’ ongoing efforts to beef up antitrust capabilities.

Rosborough was an associate in McDermott’s antitrust group from 2004 to 2007 before joined the Justice Department’s antitrust division as a trial lawyer specializing in civil cases including mergers and government investigations.

Cities and counties scramble for federal grant money

A spate of cities and counties kicked off the year by hiring Washington lobbyists to pursue federal funding for local infrastructure projects.

In January alone, five local governments retained lobbying firms to secure funding for various water infrastructure, housing, transportation and other local programs and projects: Prince George’s County and Richmond (Holland Knight); Philadelphia (GrayLoeffler); Tigard, Ore. (Conkling Fiskum McCormick); and Flager County, Fla. (CML Consulting Services).

Some of the movement is over new federal grant opportunities in 2012, but most represent the executive branch’s growing authority to approve grants, said Rich Gold, head of Holland Knight’s public policy group. Congress’ earmark ban, enacted in 2010, is said to have prompted a surge in competition over grants and contracts controlled by the White House.

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