SANTA ROSA -- Mullen & Filippi, a law firm that specializes in workers' compensation litigation and related legal services, is relocating its practice to about 6,000 square feet in downtown Santa Rosa from the Fountaingrove Executive Center.

The firm, which is headquartered in Sacramento but has 10 satellite offices throughout the state,  will move into a space at 111 Santa Rosa Ave. in the Westamerica building, according to Anne Hernandez, managing partner of the Santa Rosa office.  The new location will be more convenient for its attorneys who frequently attend hearings at the state building.

"We do a lot of workers' comp defense and administrative hearings are all in the state buildings," Ms. Hernandez said, adding that the new space, while actually smaller than the existing one, will help the firm deal with an increasing amount of workers' comp-related litigation.

"Our litigation is back to where it was," before 2004, when then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law statewide reforms curbing costs of workers comp rates that increasingly resulted in litigation, Ms. Hernandez said.  Post 2004, there has been a steady decline in such legal wrangling, in turn reducing costs for employers. But within the past year or so, Ms. Hernandez said, judges have slowly altered the intent of the legislative reforms.

"A lot of those changes have been reduced by the judiciary," she said. "The case law decisions have eroded what the Legislature was trying to accomplish."

The firm also provides legal counsel to numerous municipalities on workers comp and disability, often on behalf of public safety officers. Local governments often grapple with high-cost litigation related to workers comp and disability claims and benefits, Ms. Hernandez said.

While many law firms struggled through the recession, the opposite has been true in the workers' comp field, a highly technical but costly area, particularly for employers, Ms. Hernandez said. 

"It's a pretty important niche and such an expensive one for employers, and the Legislature loves to tinker with it," Ms. Hernandez said.

The firm has nine full-time attorneys in Santa Rosa and full staff of 16. Across California, the firm has more than 70 attorneys.

Mullen & Filippi was represented by Sacramento broker Russel Galloway in the transaction. Shawn Johnson, managing partner of Keegan & Coppin/ONCOR International, represented the landlord.