Lawyer Lawyer by sallyflower


									                                           February 18, 2008

  ‘Lawyer’s Lawyer’ an Experienced Defender in High-Profile Cases
       David Noonan Provided Services for Qualcomm, Sempra, Padres’  Owner

     David Noonan, a founding partner of downtown law
firm Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge LLP, remembers well
the early days of practicing law.
     “I remember going to court with butterflies and lots of
stage fright,” he said.
     Although Noonan admits he still gets the occasional
case of jangled nerves before a judge and jury, he said 35
years of trying everything from “slip and falls” at a
supermarket to securities class action cases has assuaged
his mind-set.
     In 1976, he and three other associate attorneys left
Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP to form what was
then named Post, Kirby, Wideman & Noonan in David Noonan calls himself a
                                                                 ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ because of his
downtown San Diego. At the time, San Diego was a small
                                                                 experience defending lawyers.
legal community and the law firm’s attorneys tried cases
across the spectrum.
     High-rises now crowd the 11th-story view of San Diego Bay from Kirby Noonan offices,
although it still offers the staff an enviable sight. The law firm is now in the middle of moving its
offices into the DiamondView Tower adjacent to Petco Park.
     Somewhere in between, Noonan, 60, has carved a niche for himself as the “lawyer’s lawyer,” a
title he says he earned because of his experience in defending lawyers, most recently in the
Qualcomm Inc. and Broadcom Corp. patent infringement case involving sanctions against some
Heller Ehrman attorneys.
     Michael Kirby, the firm’s co-founding partner, says Noonan has been an invaluable part of the
     “When you get to trial, it doesn’t matter whether you have 15 lawyers or 1,500 lawyers,” Kirby
said. “The key is, ‘How good is your trial lawyer?’ That’s where he stands out and that’s how our
firm has been able to grow.”
     Intellectual Stimulation
     Noonan says he most enjoys the intellectual challenges associated with complex legal cases, and
representing attorneys presents a unique way for him to use his skills. He also occasionally serves as
an expert witness on attorney matters, a unique situation that puts him on the other side of the stand.
     Mostly he’s carved out a niche as a business attorney. He has served as co-counsel for San
Diego Padres owner John Moores in the Peregrine Systems Inc. securities litigation case and
represented such high-profile companies as Sempra Energy in the Continental Forge Co. consumer
class action case, Atlantic Richfield Co. in the successful defense of alleged antitrust violations in
the retail sale of gasoline, and Vinson & Elkins, the Houston law firm sued by the city of San Diego
for services provided during the pension fund investigation. His practice centers largely on antitrust,
banking, securities and professional liability.
    “There’s a tremendous incentive to specialize so that you’re able to compete for those
sophisticated clients and cases,” Noonan said.
    Noonan estimated that the number of lawyers in San Diego has grown more than fourfold since
he began practicing here in the early 1970s, after graduating from Syracuse University’s law school
in New York.
    “There’s so much mobility in law now,” Noonan said. “You pick up the paper every day and
lawyers are leaving firms going to new firms, lawyers are leaving firms to start their own firms,
sometimes doing it multiple times over a career.”
    He says he’s also witnessed law firms evolve into more diverse, and more competitive, places.
    “I think law firms, in order to be successful, have to run their firms more like a business now,”
Noonan said.
    Kirby Noonan, like many other law firms around town, is managed by non-attorneys. The law
firm employs 19 attorneys who practice in many high-profile cases.
    Volunteer Service
    But the influx of lawyers has also given rise to volunteer organizations such as the San Diego
Volunteer Lawyer Program, the county’s oldest and largest pro bono legal services operation, where
Noonan once served as president.
    He has also served as president of the San Diego County Bar Association.
    Parlaying his experience outside of his own practice is something Noonan refers to as his
“higher calling.”
    “Being a lawyer is not just coming to work every day,” he said. “Being a lawyer, hopefully, has
meaning separate of making money. There is so much unmet need out there.”

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