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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fast-Growing Kahana & Feld Eyes Expansion

Insurance Defense Speciality; Looks to Florida and Overseas

Attorneys at Kahana & Feld LLP hail from big law firms with competitive, cutthroat cultures.

By contrast, the Irvine-based business litigation and insurance defense firm—which
focuses on employment, real estate, construction, business, shareholder, and general liability litigation—aims to cultivate a corporate culture that is decidedly less so.

“This is my fifth law firm I’ve worked at, and it’s unlike any other experience I’ve had,” Kahana & Feld Partner Yaron Shaham told the Business Journal.

“There’s no ‘hey, that’s my client. You can’t touch that.’ Or ‘that’s my business. You stay away, you go stay in your area.’

“When we say it’s one firm and we all work together, that’s not lip service. That’s really the way the firm works.”

The collaborative culture has helped the firm nearly double its staff over the past two years. Since 2020, headcount at Kahana has grown 88% to 30 employees. Revenue has risen 126% to $13 million over the two-year-period.

That growth earned Kahana & Feld the No. 7 spot on last week’s Business Journal’s list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the Midsize category, which includes businesses that range from $10 million to $100 million in annual revenue.

Insurance Specialty

While Kahana & Feld is a full-service law firm, insurance defense litigation is its bread and butter.

Managing Partner Jason Feld, who leads the insurance defense and real estate/construction litigation team, introduced insurance defense practice to the firm when he joined in 2017.

Business “has been skyrocketing ever since,” founder and Managing Partner Amir Kahana said.

Kahana & Feld’s insurance defense practice makes up about 60% of its business, according to Feld.

Insurance companies hire the firm to defend their customers when accidents happen on their properties. These accidents can range from “slip and falls” and “trip and falls” in construction sites, grocery stores, or hospitals to construction defects experienced by property owners.

Some of Kahana & Feld’s insurance clients include New York-based AmTrust Financial Services Inc., Minneapolis-based Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America and Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based United Fire & Casualty Co.

The firm’s Orange County clients include Buena Park-based packaged foods retailer Island Snacks Inc. and Irvine-based tax consulting company TaxRise Inc., among others.

The company in the past represented a Tustin-based insurance startup in a trade secret violation case, in which its client paid nothing to get the case dismissed. Officials declined to name the startup due to confidentiality purposes.

Kahana & Feld touts swift and efficient approaches to its cases, unlike firms that tend to drag out cases to make the most out of their clients. That approach has been a driving force in the firm’s revenue growth, according to company officials.

“We’re not just here to bill you,” Shaham said.

The firm in the past dismissed one of its insurance cases in two and a half weeks, whereas “most firms would look at that case and go, ‘oh my God, that’s 10 months to bill.’

“That’s not us. We’re here to create a relationship with [clients] that will last for a very long time,” he said.

Expansion Plans

The firm, founded five years ago, counts offices in Oakland, San Diego, Phoenix and Houston, alongside its Irvine base at the Century Centre office towers.

The firm recently took over a full floor office on the Irvine campus at the corner of Main Street and Jamboree Road. The team earlier this month celebrated getting signage getting posted on the Olen Properties-owned tower.

Kahana & Feld expects the firm to more than double its headcount next year to 75 employees, and projects it will generate around $15 million next year.

The company is currently looking to expand domestically and internationally, with additional offices planned for Florida, Nevada, South Korea and the U.K., as well as additional locations in Texas and in Los Angeles.

The goal is to become a 50-state firm with offices overseas, Kahana said.
Expanding, said Kahana, “is strategic,[because] the largest clients need a national presence, and they need to hire larger firms.”

Half of the litigation volume in the U.S. comes from California and Texas, according to Kahana. The addition of an office in Florida covers two-thirds of the country’s litigation activity.

While expansion prospects are plentiful, the firm’s current priority is to ensure scalability in its administrative processes in document management, accounting and billing.

“Once that’s dialed in, we can accelerate to 50% or even 100% growth,” Kahana said.

Hoop Dreams

Feld and Kahana were friends long before they became managing partners.

They met playing basketball, while Feld was an attorney at Newport Beach-based Ulich Balmuth Fisher LLP.

While Feld made partner at Ulich Balmuth Fisher in 2014, he began to look for other opportunities just three years later.

“There’s something better for me out there,” he said he felt at the time.

Feld eventually approached Kahana about joining his firm, which was then named Kahana Law.

“I was a little concerned at first because he is my closest friend, and I didn’t want to do anything that would interfere with our friendship,” Kahana said. “But he is too good of a lawyer. It was too good of an opportunity for me to say no.”

Since joining Kahana & Feld, Feld has recruited at least four lawyers who have worked in opposition to him in past cases.

“A lot of lawyers treat each other badly if they’re on opposite sides,” Kahana said.
“Jason treats everyone so well … the lawyers that he’s on the other side of are like his friends.”

SoCal Attorneys

Feld and Kahana began practicing law in Southern California.

Feld grew up in Texas; he calls himself a “die-hard” Houston sports fan. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Houston in 1995 and graduated from Whittier Law School in 1999.

Feld is licensed to practice law in California, Arizona and Texas. He began his practice as an attorney at Bonetati & Soble Inc. in Santa Ana. He currently lives in Tustin Ranch with his wife and two daughters.

Kahana graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in history. He earned his JD at the University of Chicago Law School and began his practice as an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The Los Angeles firm, founded in 1890, currently counts over 1,500 attorneys and 20 offices worldwide.

Prior to launching his own firm in 2006, Kahana practiced at Los Angeles-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, which counts over 450 attorneys and 10 offices across the country.

Kahana specializes in civil litigation, contract claims and business torts and employment litigation. He has recovered over $50 million on behalf of his clients in Orange County and has litigated over 1,000 defense cases to a “successful conclusion,” his bio states.

He is licensed to practice in California and on the Supreme Court.

Kahana currently lives in Irvine with his wife and three children.

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