Stephanie Barbaran, Los Angeles Business Journal Interim Editor

Stephanie Barbaran, Los Angeles Business Journal Interim Editor

Attorneys are an adaptable group of professionals, keeping up with frequent changes to law, regulatory requirements, and social and cultural concerns. On Nov. 17, the Business Journal honored local attorneys during the Leaders in Law online event, highlighting their accomplishments from the past year.

What stood out in their comments, however, was not their gratitude to their mentors and teams — though there was plenty to go around — but rather their commitment to facilitating change that benefits communities and specific groups of people. As one of the most diverse cities in the country, Los Angeles and the people and companies represented by these attorneys can benefit from that kind of focus.

“I think everybody would agree Los Angeles is a mecca for the finest courtroom lawyers in the country,” said Sanford Michelman of Westwood-based Michelman & Robinson, who was honored in the litigation category. “I’ve litigated in almost every state in the country, and I can confidently say Los Angeles by far is the best place to work and to litigate, and it’s because of the skill and the talent of the people in our community. We get to learn from each other.”

Alfred Fraijo Jr. of downtown-based Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, who was honored in the real estate category, also emphasized how local teams of attorneys have worked together during the pandemic to help communities of color and working-class communities.

“I would say my clients are especially attuned to those (communities’) needs and issues, and it’s been really great to think about the real estate industry and the work that we do differently through a lens on equity, through a lens on restoration and resilience. … I think all those issues are trending and at the vanguard of how we build healthier communities throughout Southern California.”

Such focus can be seen and applied in virtually every aspect of the business community. Stephanie Villasenor of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, who was honored in the in-house counsel nonprofit category, also expressed how having a united team can bring about success.

“The arts, like so many communities, really took a hit during Covid, and really, they’re still getting on their feet now,” she said. The team she works with, however, is “solely mission focused,” she added. “Having that kind of single-mindedness makes for great camaraderie and makes for a really great work environment.”

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