Shakeup for legal eagles

Ace attorney Cook joins rival firm

Melanie Cook, a top dealmaker and name partner at Bloom, Hergott, Diemer & Cook, is ankling the firm to join legal powerhouse Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie & Stiffelman as of counsel.

The departure of Cook, who is expected to take most of her vast client list with her, is just the latest in a series of defections from the boutique law firm. For Ziffren-Brittenham, which represents many corporate clients and indie companies, the addition of Cook provides a major boost to the firm’s talent profile. Brittenham himself reps Eddie Murphy and Harrison Ford.

Clients who are likely to follow Cook to her new shingle include Keanu Reeves, Barry Sonnenfeld, Scott Rudin, Sam Mendes, Christina Ricci, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tim Burton, Mimi Lederer, Julie Taymor, Tim Burton, Paul Attanasio and Nancy Meyers.

Martin Scorsese, who was represented by both Cook and her partner Jake Bloom, is expected to stay with Bloom.

Cook, the most prominent female dealmaker in Hollywood, has had a number of firsts in her career, including being the first woman to be named Entertainment Lawyer of the Year by the Beverly Hills Bar Assn.

“I’m incredibly fond of my colleagues here,” said Cook, who started at the firm in 1987 and became a name partner 10 years ago. “This is an amicable situation. I grew up as a lawyer here and I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had here,” she told Daily Variety Monday.

In a statement, Bloom said, “Melanie has been a valuable and beloved asset to our firm. We wish her well and look forward to continuing to do business with her in her future endeavors.”

Cook’s departure, however, is the most high profile of a wave of exits from what has been one of Hollywood’s most powerful firms. The partners who have left have taken many of the firm’s younger generation of clients.

Since October, Robert Offer, David Weber and Stephen Barnes have left the firm.

Offer and Weber joined Warren Dern of Nelson, Felker, Levine and Dern to form a new firm. That outfit represents actors Edward Norton, Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor and Guy Pearce as well as directors Michael Bay and Spike Jonze.

Barnes joined Barnes, Morris, Klein, Mark & Yorn, and brought with him clients Chris Rock, Damon Wayans, John Singleton, Reginald Hudlin and Snoop Dogg. Name partner Kevin Yorn is the brother of Rick Yorn, a principal of the Firm, who manages Leonard DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

Two years ago, Deborah Klein, then a name partner at Bloom Hergott, left to join the Barnes firm. She took with her Jim Carrey, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

How deep the problems are at Bloom Hergott is unclear.

Jake Bloom is most closely associated with aging action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his client list also includes Jerry Bruckheimer and Brian Grazer.

Name partner Alan Hergott’s lengthy client list includes Tom Hanks.

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