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Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff to Close

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The law firm of Rutter Hobbs & Davidoff Inc., from California, will shut down after a verdict was issued against it as a result of a $10 million malpractice. The lawsuit was filed because of an agreement of separation between a real estate company and a former client of the firm, an attorney from the firm confirmed on Thursday.

The law firm will continue to be a corporate entity but its operations in practicing law will end.

Rutter Hobbs will shut down once all of its attorneys find positions at new firms. One of the firm’s namesakes, Brian L. Davidoff, said that he will join Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP on January 17 with 18 of his colleagues.

The malpractice lawsuit said that it was filed because problems found in the agreement of separation between J.P. Ryan, a former Rutter Hobbs client, and Lowe Enterprises Inc.

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Rutter Hobbs was issued the verdict of $10 million in June by a California state jury. Davidoff said the following after the ruling: “It became increasingly of concern to me that there might be departures of groups of lawyers that would cause an implosion of the firm,” Davidoff said. “So what we tried to do was to keep the organization together in a comprehensive way until most of the attorneys were able to find a home.”

The claim by Hyan is still being resolved by Rutter Hobbs and if a solution cannot be reached, the firm said the case will be appealed, according to Davidoff. The attorneys for the firm have argued against a Harvard professor who testified about Rutter Hobbs’ mistakes while at the trial. To defeat the testimony of the professor, the firm used inadmissible evidence.

The Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel, refused to remove the verdict against the firm and Frank Hobbs, who is a retired attorney. The judge did permit a new trial for attorney Geoffrey M. Gold, who was not as involved in the handling of the contract mentioned in the lawsuit.

“It was almost uncanny how, when we started looking at the lawyers, the fit was just perfect,” Smith said.

The new hires for Greenberg Glusker, which consists of 15 lawyers, will push it into a midsized firm that offers full services. The managing partner for Greenberg Glusker, Stephen Smith, said his firm knew the attorneys for Rutter Hobbs for sometime since there were offices for the two firms just across the street. Prior to that they were located at the same building address.

Also joining Davidoff within the practice of bankruptcy are Duane Kumagai and John Melissinos. Richard Hong, Benjamin Alexander and Andrew Apfelberg, all partners, will join the corporate group of Greenberg Glusker.

Olivia Goodkin, labor and employment; Wendy Lane, labor and employment; Risa Morris, labor and employment; Nancy Morgan, intellectual property; Fred Fenster, commercial; Geoffrey Gold, commercial and Bernie Resser, commercial.

The bankruptcy practice for Greenberg Glusker will be led by Davidoff. Joel Weinstein, another attorney from Rutter Hobbs, will be in charge of the firm’s corporate practice.

Information researched from the ABA Journal.

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