The Los Angeles law firm of Leff & Mason--a leading specialist in savings and loan matters--has split over business goals, changed its name and begun refocusing much of its effort on what it hopes will be a growing Orange County clientele.
In one move to boost the firm's presence in Orange County, VerLyn Jensen--a lobbyist for county government and a longtime associate of former Rep. Jerry M. Patterson--has joined the firm as a top partner.
And the firm, renamed Leff & Jensen, with 21 lawyers, will increase its concentration on the S&L industry now that a group of real estate lawyers has left its Washington office, senior partner Ernest Leff said Tuesday.
In little more than three years as Leff & Mason, the law firm earned a solid national reputation for representing S&Ls--mainly through its Los Angeles office and its year-old Orange County office. But Leff said most of the lawyers in the Washington office, headed by partner Arthur Mason, were handling real estate syndications, primarily in Atlantic City.
"They had a very unique practice that didn't fit well with what we were doing," Leff said in explaining the gradual departure of lawyers until Mason left about three months ago.
The only remaining lawyer in the Washington office is James F. McConnell Jr., who has worked with Jensen as a lobbyist for Orange County.
Leff & Jensen is not turning its back on real estate law, however. Jensen and four lawyers in the firm's Costa Mesa office will concentrate on general business, real estate and governmental affairs practices. Jensen and McConnell will continue to serve as lobbyists in Washington for Orange County and several local government agencies.
Jensen and McConnell also worked together as staff lawyers on a congressional committee headed by Patterson, who served as a Democrat from Santa Ana from 1975 until he was defeated in 1984.
Another former Patterson aide, Gregory W. Sanders, also works in the Costa Mesa office of Leff & Jensen.
Patterson himself joined Leff & Mason after he was defeated 18 months ago but quit last December when he decided to run for the post of Orange County supervisor. After he lost that race earlier this month, he affiliated with the Newport Beach office of Memel, Jacobs, Pierno, Gersh & Ellsworth, a Los Angeles law firm.