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October 2013 Issue

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Century City: A Love Story

by Mitchell Stein, Thompson Coburn, LLP

 

Samuel Johnson, the 18th Century British author and critic, once remarked to a friend (concerning Mr. Johnson's effort to spare an Anglican clergyman from the noose), "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” I will tell you something that recently concentrated my mind wonderfully: The thought that my firm might be leaving Century City.

First, a little background. I have spent my entire legal career, 35 years, in Century City. For me, Century City was not an acquired taste. It was a taste I enjoyed from day one. Having attended high school in an “American Graffiti”-style San Gabriel Valley suburb, and having spent a brief stint as a downtown law clerk on a declining and no longer prestigious Spring Street, I was quite wowed by the location, layout, and general vibe of Century City from the first day I drove up for a job interview, fresh out of law school in 1978. And I haven't changed my mind since. This location has been a wonderful location to develop our practice, connect with clients, and grow our firm.

Fast forward to early 2013. My firm's lease for space at 2029 Century Park East was to expire later in the year, and for that and other reasons, there was a possibility that going forward, I might be practicing law in — heaven forbid — Beverly Hills or Westwood. Thus, I spent much of 2013 ruminating ruefully about life in Century City, and how it would feel to leave.

I do not need an admonition that one does not know what one has until it is gone. I already know what I have. I already know that it's a gift and a blessing to practice law in a unique and delightfully multi-faceted location like Century City. Where else can you maintain an office in a modern tower as impressive and prestigious as anything downtown while just a few yards away in low-rise Beverly Hills, you can walk down a tree-lined street or stroll through Roxbury Park? Where else can you practice law on land that once bustled with the props, cameras and equipment of the back lot of a major movie studio? Where else can you sneak away from your office at lunch and walk over to an open air mall with great shops and restaurants and a state-of-the-art movie theater complex? Where else outside your front door can you run into a mix of office workers, tourists, joggers, starlets, agents, lawyers, and celebrities, all in a span of five minutes? It has been all these things and more, dear friends, that have been focusing my mind wonderfully all year. I didn't want to lose them.

Mick Jagger may have been right when he said, “You can’t always get what you want,” but in my case, I did. Effective October 1, 2013, my firm combined with Thompson Coburn, a blue chip national firm based out of St. Louis, a firm which turned out to be a pretty nice group of people. And we were delighted to learn that our new combined entity decided to stay right where we are, right here in Century City. We have already shown some of our new people a few of our favorite spots in the neighborhood, including the Los Angeles Country Club, Rodeo Drive, Bel Air and Holmby Hills, Sunset Boulevard, and a couple of houses in which Elvis once lived. Our new folks are already catching on to the convenient location uniquely offered by Century City, and its incredible combination of commerce, restaurants, and legal community.

So there you go. Sadness avoided. Happiness assured. I don't have Toto in a wicker basket, but Dorothy had a point: "There's no place like home."


Mitchell Stein, a past President of the Century City Bar Association and current Board
Member, is Senior Counsel with Thompson Coburn LLC. Mr. Stein's previous firm,
FreedmanWeisz LLP, combined with Thompson Coburn LLC on October 1, 2013. He can be reached at MStein@thompsoncoburn.com

 

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