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A view of the skyline of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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  • Pircher, Nichols Meeks will wind down as 17 lawyers join Holland Knight
  • Pircher partners in 2018 declined to merge firm with White Case

(Reuters) - Holland Knight said Thursday it has added 17 attorneys from small real estate law firm Pircher, Nichols Meeks, a move that will give the 1,700-lawyer firm its second Los Angeles office.

Joseph Guay, leader of Holland Knight's real estate section, confirmed that Pircher will be winding down operations with the lawyer exits. But he said the development should be characterized as a group lawyer hire rather than a merger of two firms.

Tampa-founded Holland Knight, which combined last summer with Dallas-based Thompson Knight, will take over Pircher's lease in Century City, a business district in Los Angeles. Holland Knight also has an office in downtown Los Angeles, and two others in California.

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It's been a busy past week for law firm combinations. Davis Wright Tremaine said June 10 it would absorb 44-lawyer financial services law firm McGonigle, and Fennemore Craig said Tuesday it would combine with 56-lawyer firm Wendel Rosen.

The team leaving the nearly 40-year-old Pircher for Holland Knight includes eight partners.

John Irons, who was previously on Pircher's executive committee, said his prior firm had a narrow focus on real estate transactions. He said Pircher has realized it could benefit from joining a larger firm with complementary practices such as environmental and land use, zoning and construction.

Pircher has lost lawyers in recent years, including a 13-attorney Chicago group to large firm White Case in 2018. The firm issued a statement at the time that its Los Angeles partners "declined this overture" to merge with White Case and chose to "remain a competitive boutique firm."

Ariel Robinson, a former Pircher lawyer who is now executive partner of Holland Knight's new Century City office, said Holland Knight is a "much better fit."

The COVID-19 pandemic also "exposes some areas of need" and will "open people's eyes to what you can do on a bigger platform," Robinson said.

Holland Knight says its real estate section has about 300 lawyers nationally. Guay, the department leader, said the practice had its "best year ever" in 2021. With uncertainty ahead in the market with rising interest rates and inflation, the new team coming in can help as real estate clients may have to "pivot," he said.

Read more:

Holland Knight, Thompson Knight cement Aug. 1 merger plans

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Sara Merken

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com