With expertise in a variety of practices,
including corporate, litigation, employment, IP, antitrust and
finance, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has grown
aggressively in recent times. The firm has added a number of
industry focused practices, such as healthcare, insurance,
entertainment, serving such clients as DaVita Inc., Liberty Mutual,
Charter Communications and Disney.
Today's Sheppard Mullin entered the world in
1927 as Haight & Mathes, the brainchild of two young lawyers
who left a small Los Angeles firm to strike out on their own. At
the behest of Harvard Law classmate Bill Mathes, James Sheppard
ditched O'Melveny & Myers to join the nascent firm the
following year. After co-founder Ray Haight left to form yet
another startup in 1932 (before an unsuccessful bid for the
California governor's chair), two men who would develop into name
partners-J. Stanley Mullin and George Richter-cut their teeth as
law clerks in the Great Depression's waning days. Richter briefly
left the firm for Security First National Bank's legal department
in the mid-1930s, a stint that afforded him a knowledge reserve
he'd tap to build up the firm's commercial and banking offerings
upon his return. With the 1938 hiring of Harvard grad Gordon
Hampton, the firm closed out its recruitment of the quartet that
formed the nameplate maintained through today-a rarity in this age
of mergers, spinoffs and partner raids.
Mathes answered President Truman's call in
1945, when he accepted Give 'Em Hell Harry's nomination to join the
federal bench in L.A. While the partner's ascendance clearly lent
additional prestige to the Sheppard Mullin letterhead, it also cost
the firm its senior trial lawyer; another OMM lawyer, Frank
Balthis, stepped in to help fill the void, earning his own
judiciary invitation in 1961 after 15 years with the firm.
Meanwhile, a third Sheppard Mullin attorney-turned-jurist, Kathleen
Parker, made headlines in becoming one of L.A.'s first female
attorneys and, later, one of the region's first female judges.
Parker joined the firm in 1946 and was the first woman to practice
at the firm.
Given the history of prestigious attorneys who
have graced Sheppard Mullin's halls, the firm's continued success
and growth is no surprise. The firm opened offices throughout the
Golden State in the 1970s and 1980s; added niche practices in such
areas as aerospace, defense, land use and real estate in the 1990s;
and launched a slew of new branches as the third millennium dawned.
In addition to its major California presence, the firm also has
offices in DC, New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, London
and Brussels. Recent growth has reflected an increased emphasis on
regional specialization: lawyers in Century City focus largely on
entertainment law, those in Del Mar target the region's biotech
companies and attorneys in DC pass much of their time helping
clients land government contracts.
Sheppard Mullin added three partners to the
firm's growing Intellectual Property practice group: James G.
Gatto, D. Benjamin Esplin and Bradford C. Blaise. Gatto and
Blaise joined Sheppard Mullin's Washington DC office and Esplin
joined the firm's Del Mar office. Guy Halgren, chairman of
Sheppard Mullin, noted: "As extremely well-regarded IP
specialists, they are sought out coast-to-coast by technology and
game companies for patent portfolio strategy and business model
advice. Jim, Ben and Brad are first-rate attorneys who
significantly add depth and breadth to our existing IP and
technology capabilities, especially in the games, social media,
internet, open source, mHealth and FinTech industries."
Partner Kevin Puvalowski and associate Sarah
Aberg represented Abacus Federal Savings Bank, the only bank to
face trial on criminal charges in connection with the financial
crisis and the first bank indicted by the Manhattan District
Attorney's Office since 1991. The indictment, which was
handed down in May 2012, charged Abacus and 11 former employees
with conspiracy and substantive fraud charges alleging that the
bank knowingly approved mortgages to unqualified borrowers based on
falsified documentation and then sold those fraudulent mortgages to
Fannie Mae. In June 2015, following a four-month trial, the
jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all 80 counts against the
The court case attacking Gore Vidal's estate
by his half-sister, Nina Straight, was dismissed. Sheppard
Mullin partner Adam Streisand scored a stunning victory in the case
for his client, Andrew Auchincloss, as the trustee of Gore Vidal's
trust and Mr. Vidal's intended beneficiaries, the Huntington
Library and Harvard University.
Sheppard Mullin announced that Daniel L. Brown
will receive the American Bar Association's 2015 Pro Bono Publico
Award, which honors those who have enhanced the human dignity of
others by improving or delivering volunteer legal services to our
nation's poor and disadvantaged. A partner in Sheppard
Mullin's Business Trial practice group, Brown is also chair of the
firm's pro bono committee.
Sheppard Mullin elevated 11 of its attorneys
to partner in March 2015. The new partners are William F.
Ahmann (Palo Alto), Christopher J. Collins (New York), Pankit J.
Doshi (San Francisco), Morgan Forsey (San Francisco), Kenneth D.
Fox (Orange County), Michael M. Lauter (San Francisco), Amy L.
McEvoy (Los Angeles), Marlene M. Nicolas (Los Angeles),
James E. Pugh (Los Angeles), Jeffrey F. Rector (Del Mar)
and Zachary M. Turke (Los Angeles).
The United States Supreme Court unanimously
ruled in favor of Sheppard Mullin client Hana Bank in the matter
entitled Hana Financial v. Hana Bank. Justice Sonia
Sotomayor wrote the opinion for a unanimous Court, affirming the
Ninth Circuit's ruling that the doctrine of trademark tacking
presents a question of fact appropriate for jury
determination. The Supreme Court resolved a Circuit split on
the issue, which arose when the Federal Circuit and Sixth Circuit
treated trademark tacking as a question of law. This was the
first substantive trademark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in
nearly a decade, and the first time the Court considered tacking
principles in nearly a century, long before the issue was coined
"tacking." Carlo Van den Bosch argued the matter before the Supreme
Court on December 3, 2014. Hana Bank is one of the largest
financial institutions in Korea.