The Firms

December 18, 2009 2:10 PM

San Fran Real Estate Boutique Closes

Posted by Zach Lowe

San Francisco-based real estate and land use boutique Ellman Burke Hoffman & Johnson is shutting down after more than 30 years, with nine of its 18 lawyers heading to the 163-lawyer firm Buchalter Nemer, according to the Recorder, an Am Law Daily sibling publication. 

A smaller group is heading to the Bay Area real estate firm SSL Law Firm, the Recorder reports. 

Ellman Burke wasn't seeking a merger when Buchalter approached, but Jay Paxton, the firm's current managing partner, acknowledged that the increasing sophistication of real estate work made Buchalter--with its deeper experience in complex securitization and real estate financing--an appealing partner. Name partner Michael Burke sounded a similar tone when he talked to the Recorder about the need for change. "It's always good to take a look at opportunities when in fact they are real opportunities," Burke said, "rather than take the chance that things will be fine forever."

Interestingly, Rick Cohen, managing partner of Buchalter's Los Angeles-based office, revealed some of the financial details behind the lateral moves. Cohen said Buchalter was searching only for laterals with books of business of at least $1 million, and that the six partners among the nine incoming Ellman Burke lawyers will bring in about $8 million in added revenue per year, the Recorder reports. The firm expects to crack the $100 million mark in revenue for the first time in 2009, and revenue from its real estate business has jumped 20 percent.

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