Glendale-based Davtyan Law Firm has bought the Law Offices of Kevin T. Barnes, positioning itself to begin litigating the employment class-action lawsuits it has spent years partnering with outside counsel to take to trial.
The transaction adds a second physical office for Davtyan Law, which opened in 2015 and recently moved to a new main office in downtown Glendale. It added the Barnes firm, which was based in West Los Angeles, in January after its namesake founder relocated to Georgia to wrap up his existing cases and transition to mediation. This lined up nicely with founder Emil Davtyan’s hope to start arguing cases in house after conducting all of the research.
“His staff members have been with him for a really long time and he was genuinely interested in finding a new home for them,” Davtyan said. “In recent months and years, we’ve been grappling with the idea that we should be way more involved in the actual litigation of these wages and hour class actions, so we thought this was the perfect opportunity for us to do that. The stars were aligned for us. The timing was right. Everyone in his firm was super excited.”
Kevin Barnes, a former deputy district attorney, built a career in employment law specialized in private attorneys general act, or PAGA, cases, in which employees file civil suits on behalf of themselves and their peers.
“I’ve had an amazing career protecting Californians, and the time has come for me to work my current cases to their conclusion and then I am going to become a mediator to help other attorneys resolve their employment-related cases,” said Barnes. “I couldn’t imagine a better and more qualified successor than Emil to continue my legacy. I am confident when I say that the entire team that he’s taking over is in great hands. I can’t wait to see him continue to practice his craft with flying colors and reach new breakthroughs with DLaw.”
Davtyan Law, often referred to as DLaw, has an established model of seeking out employment law cases, such as wage and hour disputes, with the intent of identifying potential class-action lawsuits. DLaw’s researchers, paralegals and attorneys typically conduct all of the legal and factual research, compile it and bring it to court either through a co-counsel or handing it off to a partner law firm to argue it out.
Barnes’ law firm was a good fit, Davtyan said, because their personal friendship went back years and their firms had worked professionally together on class actions.
“I’ve been really good friends and colleagues with Kevin Barnes since day one of starting my practice. I was introduced to him really early on. He’s just known as the pioneer of wage and hour class-action cases,” Davtyan said. “He’s got a really prestigious name out there. There’s lots of people by this point who do this type of work. Lots of people have probably messed up their names along the way. He hasn’t, and he’s really known as this honest, upstanding individual who really treats everyone fairly.”
With the three attorneys from Barnes’ office, the merger brings DLaw’s attorney count to eight. Davtyan said he plans to add at least three more lawyers to the fold as the firm prepares to kick-start its litigation practice.
“One of the beauties about our model is that it allows us to work with and contract with lawyers of various risk-averseness — somebody wants really great cases, somebody wants really (crappy) cases that nobody else would take and then everything else in between,” he said. “When I’m the firm doing it, I’ll have my own rules and I’ll want to keep the cream of the crop for ourselves and then give the rest to everybody else.”