25 Attorneys Who Bring Big Business to Their Firms
Allred, Maroko & Goldberg
Specialty: Employment discrimination, sex, race and physical handicap discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and family law.
Background: Born in Philadelphia, Allred got her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in English education from New York University Taught high school in Los Angeles for 6 1/2 years before becoming a lawyer Received law degree from Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles Her daughter, Lisa Bloom, is a lawyer who anchors a daily show on Court TV.
Buzz: Attracts business to her firm because of her high profile on TV and in the movies, as well as her morning radio program on KABC (790 AM) “I’m a public figure,” says Allred, explaining her rainmaking tactics. “Our firm is a civil-rights law firm. People who hear about me know about our cases and feel they can have access to the system just by knowing I am there.” Groundbreaking cases and barbed tongue often get ample TV coverage An ardent feminist, she has won numerous cases that have paved the way for women’s rights. Won a $4.9 million judgment from Spelling TV on behalf of Hunter Tylo, an actress who left her role on “The Bold and the Beautiful” to take a part on Melrose Place and then have it denied her because she was pregnant Currently her firm represents a former teacher at Pacific Palisades High School who is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District for allegedly failing to protect her from sexual harassment from her students.
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
Specialty: Real estate
Background: Gained notoriety for negotiating a number of hotel-related deals Represented Andre Balazs in his purchases of Chateau Marmont and Standard hotels Also repped Lehman Bros. in sale of Manhattan Beach’s Radisson Hotel and San Francisco’s Grand Hyatt Union Square Other clients include Real Estate Investment Trust Apartment Investment and Management Co., which purchased Casden Properties last December, and shopping center developer Westfield America J.D. from Columbia University in 1975 Worked at New York firms Marshall Bradder Green Allison and Tucker and Gordon Hurwitz before joining Skadden Arps in 1981 Moved west in 1987 to help open Los Angeles office.
Buzz: “Rainmaking here is a group effort,” he says. “One attorney can’t provide all of the skills needed. It’s using the firm’s reputation and skill set to convince clients that you’re the one they want on their side.” Generally the firm’s lead contact; specific aspects of the deal (taxation, environmental, pension issues) are then assigned to specialists. “He has the ability to pull together all the talents of the firm he really does an extraordinary job of it,” says partner Allan Mutchnik Stays on top of noteworthy transactions. “You can’t be complacent and just rely upon contacts. You need to be out there in the business community, understanding what transactions are about to take place,” he says Doesn’t cold call works with existing contacts, referrals and keeps attuned to what’s going on in business community Not big on lecture circuit. “The way you prove your ability is by doing deals, not talking about them,” April said.
Roger L. Armstrong
Partner, co-chair of entertainment practice Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
Specialty: Transactional law and finance in film and television industries
Background: Started professional career in marketing for studios Quit to attend Loyola Law School, graduated in 1995, at 38 Had been vice president of national publicity for Universal Pictures and TriStar Pictures Worked on “Field of Dreams” and “JFK” (“It meant walking away from a substantial salary for nothing,” he says of decision to attend law school) Intended to leave entertainment and spent two years doing environmental law at Baker & Hostetler before deciding “it wasn’t a fit.” Manatt, one of the largest L.A. firms, sees Armstrong as a key to building a growing entertainment practice.
Buzz: Not the biggest rainmaker at Manatt, which has plenty of them, but getting increased attention for show business connections. “He has an orientation about marketing that’s unique among attorneys,” says Laurie Soriano, co-chair of Manatt’s entertainment practice. “He’s ascended so quickly in this field because he has that business sense.” Made a partner last year after less than 5 years with the firm. Actively mining studio contacts led to referral work Wants to spearhead expansion of entertainment practice by winning new studio business. “I spent a lot of time in that business and for a lot of clients it’s nice to have a lawyer who lived in that world,” he says. “We’re going to gather as much information as we can about where they are headed and start using our studio contacts, gently probing to find out where they are concerned and where they are not concerned.”
Harry “Skip” Brittenham
Partner, transactional entertainment practice Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie & Stiffelman
Specialty: Transactional entertainment law
Background: Port Huron, Mich.-native Graduated UCLA Law School in 1970 Founded firm with Kenneth Ziffren in 1978 Firm is one of the largest entertainment practices. Few attorneys have been able to match the Hollywood star power that Brittenham has brought in over the past two decades Negotiated Joe Roth’s departure from Disney to start his own production company Besides A-list actors, represents numerous studio heads, producers and entertainment executives. Clients include Miramax’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein and ArtistDirect’s Ted Field.
Buzz: If it’s possible to stay beneath the radar while representing the likes of Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford, that’s what Brittenham aspires to He’s reticent to talk about his star-studded clientele, but acknowledges that personal relationships are a large reason for his success. “People need to be able to trust you and they need to know that you will get the job done,” he says Colleagues say there is more to Brittenham’s success. “He’s considered extremely honorable, personable and intelligent. And he’s a very skillful dealmaker. Those four attributes are the keys,” says partner Cliff Gilbert-Lurie. Brittenham has developed a network of insiders that look to him first when negotiating deals. One colleague says Brittenham knows what’s going on around town and he “always keeps a toe in the water.”
Senior partner, member of office of the chair
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Specialty: Advisor to Democrats, international trade, police misconduct investigations
Background: Born in Scranton, N.D., 1925 Graduated magna cum laude from USC, served in Pacific in U.S. Navy during World War II J.D., Stanford University School of Law Law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas Joined O’Melveny & Myers in 1950, becoming partner in 1958 Named vice chair of Governor’s Commission on the Watts Riots in 1965-66 Began official government service in 1967 as deputy attorney general of the U.S . Returned to O’Melveny in 1969 Deputy Secretary of State under President Carter Received Medal of Freedom for his role in negotiating release of 52 American hostages in Iran Served as O’Melveny chairman from 1982 to 1992 After Rodney King beating in March 1991, named to chair Independent Commission on Los Angeles Police Department (dubbed the Christopher Commission); recommended extensive reforms to LAPD Secretary of State under President Clinton in 1993, serving through first term Returned to O’Melveny as senior partner in 1997 Now member of O’Melveny’s Office of the Chair, the governing leadership of the firm.
Buzz: Ultimate rainmaker with access to highest corridors of power Icon in Los Angeles: “If I can’t get Warren Christopher to help us on this matter, then who can I turn to?” goes the refrain, according to longtime colleague and current Screen Actors Guild general counsel Mark Steinberg Some suspect the Christopher name lost cache in Washington when Bush administration took over, but others say he’s still the most crucial senior advisor to leading Democrats with White House aspirations Since aftermath of November 2000 election, has spent time building up firm’s international business, making frequent trips to China. Largely as result of his efforts, firm now pre-eminent in China, both for U.S. companies seeking to do business there and for Chinese entities seeking U.S. representation Within O’Melveny itself, instrumental in attracting new lawyers to the firm, according to partner Ron Merriman.
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
Specialty: Defense attorney on general litigation, government contract and aerospace law
Background: Born and raised in Springfield, Mass Earned B.B.A. in accounting and finance from University of Notre Dame, 1977 and law degree from Stanford University, 1980 Entire career at Sheppard Mullin Persuaded U.S. District Court in 1998 to throw out earlier $1.2 billion verdict against his client Honeywell Inc., which was sued by Litton Industries Inc. for alleged patent infringement on an airplane navigation component Successfully defended Northrop Grumman Corp. in 1996 when the U.S. Government filed a $100 million lawsuit against the company claiming mischarges on a guidance system for the MX missile.
Buzz: Often called upon by firm to lead its participation in “beauty contests” where lawyers from several firms pitch their skills in hopes of gaining a new client Devours newspapers, Internet sites and trade publications and keeps in close touch with clients “A lot of lawyers look at a case from a lawyer’s perspective,” said Guy Halgren, a Sheppard Mullin partner. “He looks at it from a lawyer’s perspective and a businessman’s perspective. And he can frame an argument better than anybody I’ve ever met” Several of Coyne’s cases have resulted in guest appearances on television talk shows… A rare courtroom loss gained him the most exposure when he represented Cactus Feeders Inc. in a suit against Oprah Winfrey for $12 million. The suit claimed that remarks on her TV show about mad cow disease adversely affected the cattle futures market Obtained reported $1 million settlement two years ago for former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Reuben Zacarias Lectures free to corporate lawyers to gain exposure on his ability to handle complex suits.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Specialty: Corporate law
Background: Earned B.A. in political science at Stanford University in 1977, law degree from USC in 1981 Joined Gibson out of law school and made partner in seven years Serves on firm’s executive and management committees and co-heads corporate group Viewed as heir apparent to retired chairman Ronald Beard and soon-to-be-retired managing partner Wes Howell Represented Wellpoint Health Networks Inc. in $800 million acquisition of Ceruelean Represented JF Lehman Group in acquisition of French-based Racal Instruments Other clients include General Electric, Morgan Stanley and Bear Sterns.
Buzz: Always on the hunt for new business. Makes contacts in the course of handling mergers and acquisitions, security offerings and private and public placements “Through his years of providing legal advice to investment banks and others, Ken has built up his reputation,” says partner Theodore Boutrous. “People know who he is and seek him out” Tendency in boom times is for most firms to scale back its pursuit of new business, but he sees that as a mistake. “The challenge is to be vigilant, diligent and always pursue new opportunities,” he says.
Sullivan & Cromwell
Specialty: Corporate finance and securities law
Background: Graduated from UC Berkeley in 1964 with a degree in accounting Spent a year after college as a visiting scholar at the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi, India Graduated from Boalt Hall Law School at UC Berkeley in 1967 Joined New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell Moved to L.A. in 1973 and worked with other firms until returning to Sullivan in 1984 to open the L.A. office Carved out a niche representing financial institutions, handling M & As;, commercial transactions and regulatory matters Clients include Goldman Sachs, Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc. and AIG Represented Banamex in its $12.8 billion acquisition by Citigroup and Imperial Bancorp in its $1.3 billion acquisition by Comerica Married, with two grown daughters.
Buzz: Smart, practical and focused. At work by 6:30 a.m., puts in 12-hour days Partner Alison Ressler credits Farrar’s extensive contacts in the financial community with his ability to drum up work Directorships at UnionBanCal Corp., Union Bank of California, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Los Angeles Opera contribute to network “By taking a leadership role and showing good practical experience, business comes to you,” says Ressler Farrar writes and lectures on subjects relating to financial institutions and is active California and American bar associations “In today’s world you can’t rest on your laurels,” he says. “We represent some big-name clients, and everyone is out to take that business away. You have to be a rainmaker, but also you have to be a pretty damn good lawyer.”
Girardi & Keese
Specialty: Plaintiff toxic litigation, product liability, class action, entertainment, patent infringement
Background: Born in Denver and raised in L.A Earned B.S. degree in chemistry from Loyola University, 1961, law degree from Loyola, 1964, and master’s degree in law from New York University, 1965 Immediately started own firm and has since hired 30 lawyers Lead trial attorney in winning $333 million settlement for 242 clients in 1998 against Pacific Gas & Electric, which contaminated Hinkley, Calif. drinking water supply with carcinogen chromium 6 (now known as the “Erin Brockovich” case) Won $750 million in 1998 from Lockheed Martin Corp. Sixty plaintiffs, including family members of five who died, sued company and chemical suppliers for injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals.
Buzz: Started career with two out-of-court settlements for $500 each Has won more than 100 verdicts and arbitration awards totaling at least $1 million each. Hasn’t lost a jury trial since 1986 Virtually all work comes from referrals from other attorneys looking for a specialist. More than 500 Southern California lawyers have referred cases to firm while more than 1,000 have sought advice. “His past ability to bring in big verdicts and big settlements strengthens his ability to bring in referrals on the grandest scale,” says Andre Sherman, a partner in Girardi’s firm Regarded as one of nation’s best toxic litigation attorneys, but has diversified practice. Fights corporations for money-strapped clients using significant resources, such as $12 million spent on investigations and expert witnesses in PG & E; case. “He comes across as being honest and one of the boys. He immediately melds with them,” says attorney Ed Masry, who worked with him on the PG & E; case.
Co-head of the litigation department
Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro
Specialty: Litigation in entertainment, real estate, contracts, antitrust and banking and securities
Background: A West Virginia native, Glaser received her bachelor’s degree from American University and her law degree from Rutgers University Federal Court clerkship in the 1970s followed by joining Wyman Bautzer Christensen Kuchel & Silbert Left in 1988 to help form Christensen Miller Partners Terry Christensen and Skip Miller are also highly regarded rainmakers Miller, a litigator, has one of the most wide-ranging practices of any of L.A.’s top attorneys, which enables him to draw from a wide pool of prospective clients Christensen has built strong, long-term personal relationships with major players and parlayed them into long-term clients and referrals. “Every single successful business person knows a lawyer, so just having a social life won’t do it,” he says. Business acumen and rainmaking efforts illustrated by his serving on the board of three public companies MGM Mirage Inc., Giant Group Ltd. and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.
Buzz: Glaser builds her success by keeping in touch “I’m pretty persistent. If someone expresses an interest, I try to follow up. I try to return every phone call,” she says Avoids professional networking in favor of more personal contact Most referrals now come from clients or other lawyers, whether colleagues, co-counsel or opposing counsel Client list includes Walt Disney Co., Sony Corp., Paramount Pictures, CB Richard Ellis Inc., Metropolitan Theatres Corp., Los Angeles Unified School District One of few women rainmakers in town, Glaser says she never felt limited by being a woman. “If you were limited in what your world view was by your parents, your world view turned out to be limited,” she says. “For my parents, there were no limitations.”
Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan
Specialty: Business litigation
Background: Graduated USC Law School in ’64 Joined current firm right after that In 1965 took on Playboy, representing himself and 465,000 Playboy Club members when the company changed the terms of its lifetime membership. The successful class action put him in the national spotlight at age 28 (he settled for $3.7 million in 1967). Said exposure created an opportunity for future business. “I was fortunate because national attention was focused on me at a young age” Represents Gary Winnick, Mariah Carey, Tommy Hilfiger, Titan Corp
Buzz: Known as corporate “pit bull,” especially when it comes to complex cases Deflected 1999 $1.2 billion class action against Arthur Andersen LLP by shareholders of UDC Inc., a failed home building company, alleging Andersen signed off on false and misleading financial statements… Though corporate clients usually settle securities class actions because the stakes are too high, Grossman wouldn’t. Andersen won on all counts Though he says becoming a rainmaker is, first and foremost, a product of success in the courtroom, he also believes achieving results efficiently is instrumental in keeping clients. “A lawyer builds a practice by obtaining a great result with a minimum amount of expense and dislocation,” he says Usually works in teams of one or two partners and a couple of associates, which, he believes, reduces overall bill Has a reputation for being abrasive, but is lauded for achieving results
Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker
Specialty: Employment litigation
Background: Joined Paul Hastings in 1964, been there ever since Has done work for Mobil Oil Co., Hughes Aircraft Co., Arco and Rockwell International Corp. among others Was nationwide head of employment law practice for 20 years Left that administrative position but said it was great exposure and helped him drum up business B.A. Amherst College 1961, L.L.B. Yale University Law School, 1964.
Buzz: Co-authored the definitive work in his field: “Lindemann and Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law,” first published in 1976 and now in third edition. Book cited by courts of every circuit, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, in decisions… Employers call upon Grossman not to get them money, but to keep them from having to pay. Shepherded appeal and subsequent reversal of an $89.5 million verdict against Hughes Aircraft Co. Verdict was awarded to two plaintiffs who claimed racial discrimination. New trial pending Becoming a rainmaker is “about producing great results and having it known,” he says Former clients are best marketing tool. “I’ve never been shy about asking clients to spread the word,” he says.
Partner, Business and Finance Practice Group; co-chair, Securities Group; managing partner, Los Angeles office Morgan Lewis & Bockius
Specialty: Securities law, corporate management and oversight
Background: Born Abington, Penn., 1950 B.S., finance, University of Illinois, J.D., Georgetown University Joined Securities and Exchange Commission in 1975, eventually becoming assistant director of enforcement Joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in 1984 With his SEC experience, helped build up firm’s securities law practice. Now co-chair of Morgan Lewis’ securities group and runs L.A. office.
Buzz: Developed reputation as securities law expert, even among other lawyers. One of most sought-after securities law attorneys on West Coast, with one of largest books of business in L.A Views rainmaking as building relationships with companies, especially their internal general counsels Frequent speaker on the securities law lecture circuit As result of relationship building, says his L.A. office now exports twice as much securities work to firm’s other offices as they do to his office. Before he exports a client to another office, typically spends several years working with them Says spike in inquiries about securities law issues has come into his office since Enron debacle became public “There’s tremendous concern about executives, directors and auditors and their roles in companies and their finances,” he said.
Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP
Specialty: Corporate law
Background: Worked as an administrative assistant out of law school to former New York Mayor John Lindsay In the late ’60s moved to L.A., where he worked for several firms before opening current practice in 1981… Handled $2 billion financing deal for Lutheran Church Represented Heftel Broadcasting Corp. in $750 million sale to Clear Channel Communications Clients include AIG, Anschutz Co., Owens Illinois, Security Capital, LaSalle Partners and Union Bank Represents some of the nation’s largest Christian faiths, including the Lutherans and Methodists Attended Yale University, graduated from UCLA in 1964 with a B.A. in history/anthropology and Harvard Law School in 1967.
Buzz: Specializes in energy transactions, federal and state securities law Made lots of contacts over a 30-year career, which has helped him draw business to his firm Picked up church clients, many of which have several billion dollars in assets, years ago after he worked for a time writing security rules for the SEC Burton Mitchell, assistant managing partner at the firm, says Jeffer attracts clients the old fashioned way, through word of mouth. “Anyone can go out and hustle clients, the trick is knowing how to take care of them once you have them on board,” he says Jeffer agrees that being an effective rainmaker is about being more than a good salesman or hitting the lecture circuit. “It’s all about the quality of work, how you handle people and how you take care of them.”
Samuel “Skip” Keesal
Keesal Young & Logan
Specialty: Employment discrimination, maritime, securities, environmental and mortgage banking law.
Background: Born in Chicago and raised in Tucson where he roped steers on the weekends Earned B.A. in business with specialty in marketing from Cal State Long Beach in 1962 and law degree from USC in 1965 Worked for L.A. firms Lillich McHose & Charles for four years and Pollack Palmer & Metzler for one year Started firm as a sole practitioner 31 years ago with current partners Stephen Young and Bob Logan (then working as law clerks) Now has 75 attorneys including 35 partners. Last year, successfully defended Oppenheimer & Co. against a $37.6 million stock fraud claim filed by eight doctors and persuaded court to order plaintiffs to pay $700,000 in sanctions and lawyers fees.
Buzz: Only represents large companies (some for decades), which brings increased business as clients holdings expand Has reputation as marquee lawyer who wins big cases. Believes his success is due in part to being well-prepared but friendly to all sides of a legal battle Credited with attracting 1,300 cases annually Has won 21 of 27 jury trials on securities cases during career, with four others settled during trial and only two verdict losses costing his clients $723,000 and $50,000 respectively “We don’t ever go out and say, We’d like your business,” says Keesal. “Other people we have worked with do that for us. They will say these are straight-up lawyers, you ought to use them.”
Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack
Specialty: Environmental/toxic torts, personal injury, insurance bad-faith cases
Background: Led firm to preeminent status among contingency-only firms Co-counsel with Girardi & Keese on the $333 million settlement against Pacific Gas & Electric (immortalized in “Erin Brockovich”) Also won a $100 million-plus class-action case against Allsate Insurance on the part of homeowners attempting to collect on damages from the ’94 Northridge earthquake Currently trying cases against Broadcom Corp. and JP Morgan on the behalf of investors Stopped doing hourly work about seven years ago J.D. from Loyola Marymount University in 1973.
Buzz: One of the few firms that can take multimillion-dollar contingency cases Teams up with Girardi & Keese on many of the larger cases. “What we can bring to a situation is not necessarily the finest legal talent but essentially unlimited resources and manpower,” says Lack Gets 20 calls for potential cases a week. Usually interviews for five, will ultimately take one Works the legal lecture circuit, giving about 10 seminars a year Politically active, having held fundraisers for Sens. Barbara Boxer and Joseph Dunn, and state insurance commissioner candidate Tom Umberg Confrontational style and high degree of preparation makes him notoriously tough cross-examiner. “If ever I was going to be sued by somebody, I hope it wouldn’t be Lack,” said frequent collaborator Thomas Girardi.
Pillsbury Winthrop LLP
Specialty: Commercial space leasing
Background: Has worked for the same firm for the more than 30 years he’s practiced law Began with Lillick & McHose, which merged with Pillsbury Madison and Sutro in 1990 Firm then merged with Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts last year to become Pillsbury Winthrop About 70 percent of business is tenant representation Represented Nestle in 1992 lease deal at its Glendale headquarters, as well as Sanwa Bank in its deal at 601 Wilshire Other clients include Toyota, The Gap, Merrill Lynch and City of Hope J.D. from University of Chicago in 1967
Buzz: All business is either from referrals or existing clients. Turns away 20 percent of the deals that come his way Point person on most every lease deal Pillsbury Winthrop’s Los Angeles office is involved in. Will take about 20 percent himself and assign the rest within the firm Well-regarded for finding creative ways to make deals work Active in industry-related organizations like Building Owners and Managers Association, as well as charities like Boy Scouts of America and the United Way Makes 20 lectures a year to the L.A. County and state bar associations, among other entities “We’ve done hundreds of deals. He is the best example of understanding the balance between unbeatable legal competency and the ability to close the deal,” said Anton “Tony” Natsis, partner at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP, who represented landlord JMB Property Co. in Constellation Place’s signings of MGM and ILFC, both Meyer clients.
Anton “Tony” Natsis
Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP
Specialty: Development, purchase and leasing of commercial properties, primarily landlord representation
Background: Thrived in representation of high-profile Westside and South Bay office property developers in economic boom of mid-to-late ’90s Landlord clients own over 250 million square feet in Western U.S Enhanced reputation for thoroughness and speed by securing two 150,000-plus square-foot deals for Kilroy Realty Corp. at Kilroy Airport Center, each in under three weeks, in 1998 More recently represented JMB Property Co. in its two major signings, MGM and ILFC, at Century City’s yet-to-be-completed Constellation Place Other landlord clients include Equity Office Properties and JP Morgan Also represented tenant Los Angeles Unified School District in its 800,000 square-foot sublease deal in downtown’s Beaudry building last year J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1983 Worked at Century City boutique firm Troy & Gould before joining Allen Matkins in 1991.
Buzz: Status as lead real estate attorney at 225-attorney firm comes from broad real estate knowledge and ability to mobilize lawyers on short notice Puts as many as 25 attorneys on a deal to get it done Also generates exposure on lecture circuit, having given 500 seminars to industry groups like Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles Commercial Realty Association and SIOR… Negotiated for $15 million letter of credit on which Kilroy is collecting from Westside Media Center after eToys bankruptcy, and welcomes challenges from other creditors claiming rights to those funds “He’s not bashful about asking for the business,” says Pillsbury Winthrop managing partner Michael Meyer.
Thomas J. Nolan
Managing partner Firm-wide Operations, Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP
Specialty: Complex business litigation including anti-trust, intellectual property and commercial
Background: Received J.D. from Loyola University in 1975 Hired into United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles out of law school Says formal atmosphere of a federal courtroom was perfect training ground Publicity from high-profile federal cases was instrumental in becoming future rainmaker Has extensive managerial duties, uncommon for rainmaker, especially one who tries a lot of cases Likes being in front of the jury most. “You could give me a dog bite case and I’d go in there and do it,” he says.
Buzz: How to become a rainmaker? “It takes a reputation for trying and winning difficult commercial cases,” he says Keeping the title is getting increasingly difficult. “More and more clients do more research, a lot of times they want to see a published list of victories and losses,” he says Takes every opportunity to speak at law events and speak on panels so opposing lawyers and judges know his face. In addition, showing clients loyalty is important “even if it includes not billing for advice” Was lead trial counsel for Litton Industries in a monopoly antitrust lawsuit against Honeywell Inc. Federal jury awarded Litton $234 million. U.S. District Court ordered new trial; in 1998 Nolan obtained a larger verdict in favor of Litton. Total damages came to $660 million, plus attorney’s fees Is quick to give credit to the team he works with, especially in hard-to-understand intellectual property trials. Trial attorney Tom Girardi said Nolan “is like Wayne Gretsky he doesn’t look any bigger, tougher or faster, but the next thing you know he’s scored four goals. And he’s always a gentleman.”
O’Donnell & Shaeffer LLP
Specialty: Environmental, entertainment and corporate law
Background: One of his first big L.A. cases came in 1980 when a college buddy from Georgetown University asked him to be co-counsel in an environmental case against John Wayne Airport Developed entertainment clients through representation of writer/producer Danny Arnold of the “Barney Miller” show in 1978 Established reputation for representing the talent side against studios, and has since sued Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures on various issues O’Donnell’s book of business is now at $12 million, he said Clients include Lockheed Martin Corp., Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding Inc., NBC, Reebok International Ltd. and Miramax Film Corp. Remembered for representing columnist Art Buchwald, who sued Paramount Pictures claiming it stole his idea that inspired the Eddie Murphy movie “Coming to America.” O’Donnell wrote a book about it (he has written five books) Was head of Kaye Scholer LLP’s L.A. office between 1988 and 1996, when he left to start his own firm.
Buzz: Says he gets 90 percent of new business from referrals. Most of his clients get referred from judges, other lawyers and former opponents Quick, articulate, witty, and relates to jurors, says Tom Nolan of Howrey Simon Arnold & White. “He plays hardball at the same time he’s playing to the fans,” Nolan said Building a circle of attorney friends, starting with Tom Girardi, whom he met at a social gathering. Others include Randy Oppenheimer and Chuck Diamond Has developed new referrals through events at the Western Center for Law and Poverty, the ACLU and monthly dinners hosted by the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. “In a sense it’s the good old boy networking, but not at the bar associations,” O’Donnell said.
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
Specialty: Corporate litigation and counseling
Background: University of Michigan law degree, 1966; diploma of law, Oxford University, 1967… Started as an attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in 1967 Later clerked for the chief judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals Joined Munger in 1968, made partner after three years Lead counsel for Edison International in the California electricity crisis Represented Merrill Lynch in the Orange County bankruptcy… Clients include Berkshire Hathaway, Walt Disney Co., Edison International, Universal Studios, Shell Oil Co. and Coca Cola… Married, three adult children…
Buzz: Competitive, determined, disciplined… Works 16-hour days when needed… Dislikes the term rainmaker. Says competence, not glad-handing, attracts clients. “The best place to find new work is on your desk. Take care of the work you have, and do it well, and ultimately the clients will come to you,” he says… Robert Johnson, co-managing partner, attributes Olson’s success to widespread connections in business and legal communities. Serves on the boards of trustees for Rand Corp., Annenberg School for Communication at USC and Southern California Public Radio Director of Berkshire Hathaway, Edison, City National Corp. and the California Institute of Technology Also active in the state and American bar associations… Gains recognition by representing high-profile clients, such as Edison in the California energy crisis “When you have a company with a life-threatening problem, they want to go to someone who has handled that kind of matter. There are only a relatively small handful of people who will get considered,” says Johnson.
O’Neill, Lysaght & Sun LLP
Specialty: Criminal defense
Background: Headed the major frauds unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in L.A. in the early ’70s before joining Manatt, Phelps in 1974 Started his own practice in 1982 handling criminal defense in cases involving white-collar crime Won dismissal of a 25-count indictment charging Waste Management Inc. with securities fraud and theft of trade secrets Gained acquittal of a Teledyne Corp. employee charged with exporting arms to Iraq Represents retired basketball coach Bill Fitch in contract dispute with the Clippers and Global Crossing’s former vice president of finance, Roy Olofson Partners Brian Lysaght and Brian Sun are well-known rainmakers as well. Both handle complex litigation, as well as white collar criminal defense O’Neill earned bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1962, law degree from Fordham Law School in 1965.
Buzz: Says being a successful rainmaker is about confidence, competence and conveying a winning image Managing Partner John Moscarino says it’s also about establishing rapport with people and developing broad network of acquaintances Has established himself as an authority on criminal and civil litigation by writing numerous articles and serving as instructor at the National Institute for Trail Advocacy Often serves as a commentator on CNN “What it does is put you out there in the consciousness of people,” says O’Neill Remembers the smallest details, down to where a person attended high school. Also has a knack for analyzing complex legal issues and distilling them in a way people can understand.
John B. Quinn
Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, Oliver & Hedges
Specialty: Business litigation
Background: Lead trial lawyer who helped negotiate $1.1 billion settlement for General Motors in its lawsuit against Volkswagen after Jose Ignacio Lopez left GM just as he was about to be named to the second in command position Got Avery Dennison Corp. an $80 million award in a theft and trade secret case against a Taiwanese competitor and its chairman Over last 20 years, has represented Lockheed Martin in dozens of cases. Other clients include Mattel Inc., the Ralph M. Parsons Corp., TRW Inc., Walt Disney Co., and Litton Industries Inc. Received B.A. in history from Claremont McKenna College and law degree from Harvard in 1976 Namesake law firm with 160 attorneys was founded in 1986.
Buzz: Not afraid to go to trial instead of settling high-profile big-dollar corporate cases a tactic known to attract large companies searching for large settlements Driven personality and a reputation for being aggressive in representing clients. “People come to us when they have a problem they think will go to trial,” he says Shies away from joining the usual clubs where L.A. lawyers network, but “he is on the short list of the five best defense trial lawyers in Southern California,” says John J. Higgins, general counsel for Hughes Electronics who has worked with Quinn. “John and his team are in and out of court every other day. They are truly trial lawyers.”
Specialty: Real estate
Background: B.A., general studies, Notre Dame, 1966, law degree, University of Pennsylvania, 1969 Made news in 1999 when he marched out of namesake law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker with eight colleagues. Set up a new real estate department at Dewey Ballantine Represents Credit Suisse First Bank, the Praedium Group, Wells Fargo and Pacific Coast Capital Group Negotiated purchase of Pacific Design Center for $165 million in 1999 by the Cohen Brothers/Cheslock Bakker Opportunity Fund Represents CSFB, which is a creditor of bankrupt Ocean Trails Golf Club on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, whose 18th hole tumbled into the Pacific Ocean a few years ago and owes the lender $117 million.
Buzz: Co-chair of firm’s real estate group, Walker likes to “burrow” into a company, meeting as many people as he can in a corporation, lunching often with clients and potential clients. “I try to generate business in a personal way,” he said… While on the East Coast, which is at least once or twice a month, he drops into client’s offices to visit. “His primary focus is to service his existing clients as best he can so when people know him and move around, they bring business to him from wherever they land,” says attorney Bruce Frasier, who was one of those lawyers who followed Walker to Dewey Ballantine.
Wasser, Cooperman & Carter
Specialty: Family law
Background: Graduated from USC Law School in 1967 and began practicing family law in 1970 Century City firm now has 10 attorneys Clients include Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Jane Fonda and Rod Stewart
Buzz: Two of the highest-profile Hollywood divorces in the past year (Tom Cruise vs. Nicole Kidman and Kirk Kerkorian vs. Lisa Bonder Kerkorian) have one thing common: Dennis Wasser. Both Cruise and Kerkorian turned to Wasser when their marriages hit the skids and their former partners sought huge settlements . “Divorce is a unique area of the law, a lot of it is driven by emotion and anger,” says litigator Louis “Skip” Miller. “(Wasser has) proven he’s very capable. Among other lawyers he’s got a great reputation.” Wasser gets most of his big clients through word-of-mouth Getting his name in the paper by representing celebrities generates a lot of calls, but almost all of those cases are referred to other firms. “Most people go to a divorce lawyer from a personal recommendation,” says Wasser. “Ever since I started, 35 years ago, I’ve represented a lot of lawyers and a lot of partners at law firms. When they were satisfied, they sent me their clients.” Estimates he has to pass on 80 percent of the offers for work he is offered. Colleagues say that as long as he continues practicing, his firm will remain one of the top family firms in the city.