Three Partners Are Leaving County's Largest Law Firm
Friday, April 1, 2011

The largest law firm in Ventura County is losing three partners, an associate and two paralegals.

Management at Nordman Cormany Hair & Compton LLP in Oxnard learned Wednesday that labor law specialists Jonathan Light and Karen Gabler were leaving to set up their own practice, LightGabler. They will be joined by another partner, Glenn Dickinson, a business litigator and intellectual property law specialist.

The change brings the 74-year-old law firm's size down to 30 attorneys. Since 2010, Nordman has lost partners Meghan Clark, Brook Carroll and Maria Capritto.

Ventura-based Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP is approaching the size of Nordman, with 27 lawyers on staff, five added since 2010.

Light said it's not an acrimonious split and he expects the transition to be seamless, with the separate firms trading business where appropriate.

"I've been with Nordman 26 years," he said. "It's been a huge part of my life and it is bittersweet that I'm not going to be here. I could have easily sat at my desk and continue to work for the next 20 years but I thought I'd do something different."

Nordman CEO Tamiann B. Cook stressed that the departures are amicable, and while it's never a good thing to lose "excellent attorneys," the firm will continue on as it has for more than seven decades.

"Nordman is a viable entity," she said. "This doesn't change the livelihood of the firm." As an aside, Cook said Nordman decided that in 2012 it will end its lease with Hines LLC at 1000 Town Center Drive because the rent is out of line with the market rate. Nordman managers have not decided where they'll be moving, but Cook said they've long had an abundance of space and they'll look for a property in Oxnard, Ventura and Camarillo.

When asked about the changes, Steve Henderson, executive director of the nonprofit Ventura County Bar Association, said in an email that he doesn't believe they indicate anything other than evolution.

"It certainly is not bar business," he said.

LightGabler will open May 2 at an undecided location. A lease has yet to be signed but the practice will be located in the county, Light said. More information will be available mid-month when goes live.

Lawyer Gannon Johnson, who specializes in employment law, and two paralegals also will be going to LightGabler.

Light and Gabler are known in legal and business circles as frequent speakers on employment law issues. Light said they will continue to hold seminars and roundtables, among other events.

Gabler is looking forward to trying new billing models that depart from the traditional hourly rates.

"The kinds of things clients are asking for are flat fee models, retainer models and creative ways of looking at projects," she said. "Business is changing in the world and law firms need to change with it."

Source: Ventura County Star Online Edition.