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Nordman Cormany to shut down

By   /   Friday, June 21st, 2013  /   Comments Off

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Oxnard-based Nordman Cormany Hair & Compton, the largest law firm in the region as recently as 2011, has dissolved after more than 75 years in business. The firm said a number of retirements and departures over the last few years have forced it to close its doors this summer.

“We are proud of our firm’s widespread contribution to this community, and grateful to our clients for their confidence in our expertise and their loyalty over the years,” Joel Mark, managing partner, said in a statement.

Nordman CEO Tammy Cook told the Business Times on Friday that staff had been informed the day before. Many details still need to be worked out, and the firm has retained consultants to put together a plan, she said.  “We greatly value our staff,” Cook said. Many of the firm’s employees have been with it for more than 10 years, she said, and most of the partners began their legal careers there.

The firm still has a lease through the end of 2014 on its offices in the large, freeway-visible glass building along Highway 101, Cook said.

The firm has been influential in shaping the region’s legal world. Cook said 12 former Nordman Cormany attorneys have gone on to be judges in Ventura County. “That’s significant to us,” she said. “It means that we’ve trained qualified jurists. We’re very proud of that.”

Nordman Cormany’s decline began in 2011, when the firm had 34 attorneys. In April of that year, eight attorneys left the firm. Employment attorneys Jon Light and Karen Gabler struck out to form their own firm, Light|Gabler, taking Nordman Cormany partner Glen Dickinson along with them.

“It’s a very sad day,” Light said in a statement on Friday. “The Nordman firm has been a force in the business community for decades. I spent 26 years there working with the best lawyers around, and the firm set the standard for commitment to the charitable and educational communities, including direct hands-on involvement in creating the United Way of Ventura County, the Ventura County Community Foundation and California State University-Channel Islands. Quite a legacy.”

Meanwhile, not long after Light|Gabler split off, three attorneys – Scott Samsky, Chris Kitasaki and Meghan Clark – ended up at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson in Ventura. Ferguson Case retains the title of the Tri-Counties’ largest firm with 30 attorneys as of late 2012.

Between then and now, many Nordman attorneys landed at firms around Ventura County. The firm had 17 attorneys as of Friday, Cook said. It will work with them over the next few months and will hold recruitment events. “We’ll be doing everything we can for them,” Cook said.

Changed landscape

Nordman Cormany’s closing caps five years of drastic changes in the tri-county legal industry. Here’s a rundown of moves and mergers among prominent firms in recent years.

2008: Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck merged with Santa Barbara-based Hatch & Parent, until then the region’s largest firm, leaving Nordman Cormany the biggest legal group with regional headquarters.

2009: Wood & Bender, a 14-attorney firm based in Ventura, merged with New York-based Anderson Kill & Olick, a 79-attorney firm. Atlanta-based Alston & Bird merged with Los Angeles-based Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish, which maintained six attorneys in Westlake Village.

2011: In April, eight attorneys decamped from Nordman Cormany, then the region’s biggest firm with 34 attorneys. Ferguson Case became the region’s largest firm with 30 attorneys by summer’s end. In September, Procter Slaughter & Reagan, which was previously the fifth-largest law firm in the Tri-Counties with 18 attorneys, became two firms: Slaughter & Reagan, which stayed in Ventura, and Wisotsky, Procter and Shyer, which is based in Oxnard.

2012: Louis Klein and Dan Friedlander, formerly with Jackson DeMarco Tidus and Peckenpaugh, struck out to start a new Westlake Village firm focused on litigation in business, labor and employment and real estate-related matters. The same year, Santa Barbara firm’s Buynak & Fauver and Archbald & Spray merged to become Buynak Fauver Archbald & Spray.

2013: Dealmaking attorney Tom Hopkins of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton’s Santa Barbara office left to join the Southern California operations of Cooley. Jeff Dinkin, the employment attorney in Sheppard Mullin’s Santa Barbara office, decamped for the Central Coast office of Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth helmed by David Laffitte. Real estate and public law attorney Nancy Kierstyn Schreiner of Nordman Cormany moved to Anderson Kill to helm a newly created government affairs practice group.

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