Larry Braun

Firm: Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
Law School: Northwestern University
Clients: Northrop Grumman Corp., Alcatel-Lucent and Sanders Industries Inc.

Larry Braun, a corporate lawyer at Sheppard Mullin, has worked in investment banking, restaurants, oil and gas. But he chose law because he loves dealing with people.

"A lot of my practice is dealing with business owners. They're very different people from very different backgrounds," he said.

Braun believes that his first job selling sneakers in Brunswick, N.J., taught him to understand the needs of a much broader group, business owners' families.

His practice is primarily buying and selling businesses, but he appreciates what it means to his clients' households.

"That may be the third or fourth most important event in their lives," he said of his clients. "There's getting married and having kids, and pretty soon after that is creating family wealth and family liquidity."

There are a number of ways Braun said he gets involved.
"I keep them out of jail and sometimes I make them very wealthy, but I help them with issues facing the business when it comes to dealing with the government, their employees or their families," he said. "You actually help them make their lives better."

One of the more interesting times of his career, Braun said, was working with the Rose Bowl in trying to attract an NFL team for Southern California. While ultimately unsuccessful, crafting the complex business and real estate proposal required navigating the City of Pasadena's laws and the powerful Tournament of Roses Association.

Braun said his worst career moment was when he left the hospital for a few minutes after his son was born. He was a young associate in the midst of a structuring a deal, and he'd taken some work to a colleague. But while he was bragging about the baby, his car was broken into and confidential documents were stolen.

"Explaining that to the client and partner was hard enough, but recreating months of work in a few days was even tougher," he remembers. "I did get the deal closed."

Emily Bryson York

Gordon Bava

Firm: Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP
Clients: NorthWestern Corp., East West Bancorp Inc. and Bear Stearns & Co. Inc.
Most Interesting Matter: Representation of the California Wellness Foundation in connection with the contested conversion of Health Net Inc. and subsequent sale of its controlling interest in Health Net.
Most Challenging Matter: Representation of Lippo Bank of California and its principal owner in connection with Clinton campaign finance investigations during the late 1990s.
Worst Career Moment: Confusing and misusing the words "demur" and "demurrer" in my first motion and court appearance and having the judge call me up to the bench to chastise my incompetence. I became a corporate lawyer at that point.

Jerome Coben

Firm: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Clients: Oakley Inc., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd.
Most Challenging Matter: The representation of the independent directors of Times Mirror in the sale of Times Mirror Co. to Tribune. It was also my worst career moment because, while we added significant value to the transaction, the transaction itself was a disappointment, because it put control of the Los Angeles Times in the hands of an entity that did not have the same interest in reporting on issues important to the residents of Los Angeles as had previously been the case.
My Colleagues Don't Know: I would like to write a novel.

Bob Cooper

Firm: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Clients: Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and AMR Corp. (American Airlines).
Reason I'm a Lawyer: The usual reason, I was poor at math.
Most Interesting Case: Defending several massive antitrust actions in Minneapolis, consolidated for trial simultaneously before two juries for a year and a half.
Most Challenging Case: Every case in the antitrust arena is challenging for a defense lawyer because you are representing big corporations accused of anticompetitive practices, facing a jury that will sympathize with the little guy and most likely will have minimal business experience.
If I Weren't an Attorney: My wife says I'd be home annoying her.

Henry Fields

Firm: Morrison & Foerster LLP
Clients: Union Bank of California NA, the Sage Group LLC and Takenaka Corp.
Reason I'm a Lawyer: I enjoy the client interface and the challenge of solving complex problems.
Most Interesting Matter: Most recently, the sale of the international banking business of Union Bank of California to Wachovia presented complex issues domestically and internationally.

Joshua Grode

Firm: Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif LLP
Clients: Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and
Upper Deck Co. LLC.
Most Interesting Matter: Currently, I'm representing a company that launched a tender offer to acquire a publicly traded company.
Most Challenging Matter: Juggling the interests of four lender groups all providing financing to a new motion picture company.
My Colleagues Don't Know: I know how to program in HTML and Basic. I am also fascinated with mechanical watches.

John Hartigan

Firm: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
Clients: Apollo Management LP, Jefferies & Co. Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc.
Most Interesting Matter: The independent review of Drexel Burnham Lambert as part of Drexel's settlement with the SEC and the Department of Justice.
Most Challenging Matter: Representing the City of San Diego during its recent pension crisis and negotiating a settlement with the SEC.

Bill Gould

Firm: Troy & Gould PC
Clients: City of Vernon, Bob Newhart and Xenonics, Inc.
Most Interesting Matter: Advising the board of Southern California Edison Company during the energy crisis.
Most Challenging Matter: Representing the trustee of Equity Funding in sorting out the largest U.S. corporate fraud in history at that time.
Worst Career Moment: Representing a defendant in my first pro bono criminal matter. After pleading "not guilty," the defendant asked me what he should do. Not having any experience, I told him to "go home," which he did. Unfortunately, he had been in custody and the judge called me that afternoon to tell me that if the defendant did not return to custody within one hour, I would be held in contempt!
My Colleagues Don't Know: I'm a big fan of hard rock music.

Robbin Itkin

Firm: Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Clients: State of California, Platinum Equity LLC and Sun Capital Partners Inc.
Reason I'm a Lawyer: I wanted to be an attorney ever since I was a child. My goal was to help people. Not quite sure how I ended up specializing in restructuring, but I do find this practice area both challenging and rewarding.
Most Challenging Matter: In the Ritter Ranch Development case, it was quite challenging to take on the role of client in acting as the Chapter 11 trustee, as opposed to serving as counsel for a Chapter 11 trustee. I had to sit on my hands in court to avoid taking the podium and arguing my case since of course I did not think anyone could represent me better than I could myself.
Worst Career Moment: I was speaking from a podium in court at a hearing and felt something at my ankles only to realize upon finishing speaking that my skirt had fallen to the floor. Good thing I was wearing a long jacket!

Jonathan Layne

Firm: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Clients: Herbalife Ltd., K-Swiss Inc. and Finish Line Inc.
Reason I'm a Lawyer: I find it intellectually stimulating and I like helping people solve problems, especially those related to growing businesses.
Most Challenging Matter: Hollywood Entertainment, at the time it was the No. 2 movie rental company. The company eventually sold to Movie Gallery US LLC. We dealt with every imaginable issue including class action lawsuits, renegotiations and stock delisting. It was a lot of fun.

Jennifer Bellah Maguire

Firm: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Clients: Leonard Green & Partners LP, MagneTek Inc. and Sagem SA.
Most Interesting Matter: Recently, forming Green Equity Investors V, a $5.3 billion fund.
Most Challenging Matter: A leveraged buyout in which my client took the target public within three months of closing the acquisition.
Best Career Moment: Attending a lunch set up for business referral and meeting my future husband.

Alison Ressler

Firm: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Clients: Hilton Hotels Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Most Interesting Matter: The Chiron-Novartis merger was one of the most interesting because it resulted from an arrangement I helped put in place 11 years earlier and required a lot of time and effort to complete.
Most Challenging Matter: The acquisition by Cerberus of the plasma business of Bayer AG. The deal involved a very complex tax structure, multiple securities and a dozen commercial arrangements, and every point in it was negotiated in great detail.

Paul Tosetti

Firm: Latham & Watkins LLP
Clients: Allergan Inc., Amgen Inc. and Arden Realty Inc.
Most Interesting Matter: In my 25 years of being a deal lawyer, I've had the chance to work on a lot of interesting transactions. But it was something outside the law, serving as the co-finance chair of my friend and client Bill Simon's gubernatorial run in 2002, which was both thrilling and humbling.
Worst Career Moment: In 1989 I became head of the Drexel account within my firm, and thought I was in a pretty good situation. Within six weeks, Drexel had filed for bankruptcy, and was out of business. But, Drexel's demise provided a great opportunity to work with the bankers there as they moved on to other firms, and in some cases founded their own.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.