01 June 2016

Withers continues major US growth with addition of nine partners and three new offices in California


Duncan Miller
Public relations manager | UK

International law firm Withers has continued its dramatic US expansion by welcoming nine new partners and a further 17 fee-earners in California and opening new offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Rancho Santa Fe in the process.

The majority of the new team joins the firm from the Private Client Services Group at McKenna Long & Aldridge and comprises well-respected and highly experienced trusts and estate planning, charitable giving and trusts and estate litigation lawyers. Withers' California practice is also enhanced by litigation partner Michael Brophy, who joins from Russ August & Kabat, and Counsel Christine Steiner who joins the firm from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.

The extended California team joins Withers shortly after the arrival of five corporate, litigation and IP partners from Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, who are based in Connecticut.

'Our new California team provides a huge boost to our US capabilities and, in addition to our recent East Coast hires, grows our American partnership size by nearly a third. Our San Francisco office opened at the start of 2014, and an integrated technology, estate planning and real estate practice is winning work across the north of the state. The new team allows us to significantly extend our footprint across California, as well as provides real weight and strength for our clients in, and with interests in, the state,' says Managing Director Margaret Robertson.

'We are extremely fortunate to have this large group of esteemed lawyers join our expanding West Coast team. Their arrival, coming shortly after our exciting growth in Australia and Singapore, further enhances our international strengths and our strategic aim to be the world's leading firm for advising owners and investors of private capital,' adds Chairman Ivan Sacks.

New California offices

The new team will be based across California, joining Withers' San Francisco office, as well as establishing new offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe, a high net worth community located northeast of San Diego, and will join with nine further non-legal professionals.

Rancho Santa Fe

The partners are:

Fred Vandeveer, who focuses on estate planning for large estates, complex probate and trust matters, charitable giving and representing tax-exempt organisations.

Jeremy Crickard, who focuses on estate planning, including family wealth and transfer tax planning, probate matters, business succession planning and charitable planned giving.

Michelle Graham, who focuses on international estate planning and tax planning strategies, as well as representing family businesses in succession planning and structuring transactions.
Steve Chidester, who focuses on estate planning, trust and estate administration, charitable giving and representing tax-exempt organisations.

Michelle Graham said: “Withers is a natural home for our team, with its focus on working with all aspects of private capital. We are very excited at the prospect of building on the firm's California practice, which holds out a huge amount of promise, considering the scale of the private wealth held across the state.”

San Diego

The partners are:

Carol Kao, who focuses on family wealth transfers, estate and gift tax planning, trust and probate administration and charitable giving.
Jeremy Moffit, who focuses on trust, estate and fiduciary-related litigation, including trust and probate administrations, will and trust contests, accountings, fiduciary representation, creditor's claims proceedings, conservatorships, and elder abuse matters.
Carol and Jeremy will be joined by Of Counsel Mary Gillick, who will lead the trust and estate litigation team and has particular experience in complex, intra-family disputes, conservatorships, and counseling and defending fiduciaries.

Los Angeles

The partners are:

Elizabeth Bawden, who focuses on family wealth transfers, estate and gift tax planning, charitable giving, family private foundations, succession planning, trust and probate administration and advising tax-exempt organisations.
Michael Brophy, who focuses on trust, estate, fiduciary and succession litigation. Mike has worked closely with Elizabeth and Mary in the past and also has broad experience in complex business litigation, probate litigation, IP, entertainment and employment law.
Counsel Christine Steiner also joins the Los Angeles office and will bolster Withers' Art Law practice through her experience of advising on intellectual property, visual arts transactions and general arts business matters.

In San Francisco, partner Diana Hastings focuses on domestic and cross-border estate planning, estate and trust administration and transfer and income tax strategies.

Duncan Miller Public relations manager | London