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Too Many Attorneys? It Depends on Number of Clients, Lawsuits

There were 1.2 million attorneys in the United States at the end of 2010, an increase of 2 percent from a year earlier, the American Bar Association Journal reported recently. There were 157,388 of us in California when we rang in the new year.

The population of the United States is 312 million, so resident and active lawyers make up a tiny percent of the nation’s population, despite the implication of some of the lawyer jokes.

It’s something like 0.39 percent of the population in the country. With a population of more than 37 million in California, though, that gives us a little higher ratio of lawyers to general public, roughly 0.43 percent.

That might confirm some thoughts about the abundance of California attorneys, but whether that is too many lawyers probably depends upon how many paying clients you have, or whether you’ve been sued recently. Consider this, though: As of June 30, there were 48,898 certified public accountants in California, less than one-third the number of licensed and active attorneys.

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Chief Judge Irma E. Gonzalez of the United States District Court of California for the Southern District is the 2011 recipient of the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist award. Judge Gonzalez was nominated by the Lawyers Club of San Diego’s board, and she is the first Hispanic woman appointed to the San Diego Superior Court, first Latino judge appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and first Mexican-American woman ever appointed to a federal district court in the United States. The recognition was clearly deserved.

Outside the United States, Cooley LLP has filed an application with the Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China requesting approval to open a representative office in Shanghai. The firm hopes to leverage its nationally recognized practices in venture capital, life sciences, information technology, clean energy and technologies, and commercial, intellectual property and securities litigation.

Law firms across the country are economically challenged, but two firms recently added staff. Perkins Coie LLP welcomed Peter Townshend as a partner, and George Colindres and Monique Ho have joined as of counsel. The three join Perkins Coie from McDermott Will & Emery. Joseph Reid also joined Perkins Coie in the firm’s patent litigation practice. Reid most recently served as a principal at Fish & Richardson P.C.

Klinedinst PC recently added three associates to its ranks: Richard Messer, who has a practice in construction law; Carleigh Gold, also construction law; and Molly Zohn, who will do environmental legal work.

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP provided a collection of defense contractors and consultants with insight into how to sell a business to a foreign buyer, which happens with surprising frequency these days. The definition of a foreign buyer is expanding. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, approval can be political and surprise sellers, said Sheppard Mullin Partner Brian Weimer, who works out of Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by Sheppard Mullin San Diego Partners Robert Copeland and Dana Dunwoody. Nice event, and interesting, given the challenging topic!

Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP Managing Partner Kurt L. Kicklighter was just named a new member of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.’s board. Kicklighter is a man of his word; he’s not going to change his mind about joining the board.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C. recently celebrated its fifth year in San Diego with an anniversary party that featured food from around the world, and libations from around the county, or at least that’s how it seemed.

Eddie Wang Rodriguez, local managing member, announced just before the party that the San Diego office represented sellers in two of the top 10 asset manager deals in the world in 2010, ranking the firm eighth in the number of deals and ninth in size of deal for asset managers. That must be why the party was so impressive!

Randy C. Frisch is the president and publisher of the San Diego Business Journal. He is licensed to practice law in California, Nevada and Idaho. He can be reached at rfrisch@sdbj.com.

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