Manatt deepens California bench with rising trial pro

The Los Angeles city skyline, December 29, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

June 3 (Reuters) - Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has added trial lawyer Naeun Rim in Los Angeles, strengthening its civil litigation and white collar teams, the firm said Thursday.

Rim, who joins the firm as a partner from Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, said one of the main draws to Manatt was its "hybridized" approach.

Manatt has increasingly branded itself as a professional services firm with integrated teams of lawyers, consultants and others. The firm has added professionals to its health care, digital and technology, and other teams in recent months.

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"I don't think of myself as just an attorney," she said of her work with clients, calling herself "a holistic adviser for whatever problem they have."

"The fact that Manatt has basically institutionalized this, in its hybridized model, I think was just really a natural fit for me and the way that I practice," she said, adding, "I really don't think I've seen any other firm do something like this."

She also cited Manatt's national footprint and focus on diversity as factors that drew her to the firm.

Los Angeles-founded Manatt, which has 450 professionals, said Rim is "widely recognized as a rising star throughout the trial bar."

She represents clients at the convergence of civil litigation and white collar defense, such as high-net-worth individuals and companies in complex business disputes, including clients in the health care, financial services, entertainment and technology sectors, the firm said.

Rim declined to comment on specific client matters. Her profile for her former firm highlighted her work as co-lead counsel for claimants in 15 of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB civil forfeiture actions, among other high-profile cases. She was also on the team that defended pipeline company Plains All American Pipeline in what Bird Marella's website called one of the largest environmental trials in California's history.

Rim said her trial experience started out on the criminal side when she worked at the Federal Public Defender's Office. Her practice expanded when she jumped to private practice at Los Angeles trial firm Bird Marella.

"We were pleased to see her growth and success at Bird Marella and wish her all the best in the future," Bird Marella said in a statement.

The pandemic has changed the shape of trial work, as courts shuttered their doors and paused many jury trials. Rim, who participated in a bench trial and a multi-week arbitration by video last year, said the shift to remote work taught her new skills.

Going forward, using video capabilities and other technology to conduct some meetings and hearings "allows litigation to keep evolving the way it has been into a more national and even international practice," she said.

(Note: This story was updated to correct an editing error in the seventh paragraph and to add a statement from Bird Marella.)

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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