Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP at a Glance


  • “Involvement in firm governance as an associate”
  • “Low partner-associate ratio”
  • “Everyone is ridiculously smart”


  • “Certain clients loom very large in the work mix”
  • “Brilliant attorneys are not necessarily good managers”
  • “Growing pains”

The Buzz

  • “West Coast powerhouse”
  • “Unique”
  • “Very clerkship-conscious”
  • “Academic with a hint of stuffy”

About Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

One of SoCal's elites, Munger, Tolles & Olson has resisted the temptation to expand beyond the Golden State. The firm is similarly consistent in its recruiting: depending on your outlook, Munger Tolles attorneys are either active proponents of public service or shrewd résumé builders (or both)-a majority of them have clerked for U.S. federal judges, while many others have worked for federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorneys offices.

Cali Firm with Cornhusker Friends

An ancient firm founded by grey-whiskered men wearing pince-nez? Not Munger Tolles. Instead, think crew cuts and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The firm was founded in 1962 by seven partners, including Charles Munger and Edwin Leroy Tolles. Munger departed after three years, but this proved to work in the firm's interests. A close friend of investor Warren Buffett, Munger went on to become vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which in turn became a repeat Munger Tolles' client.

Tolles passed away in 2008, leaving Ronald L. Olson as the only name partner still in active practice at the firm. Olson, who joined in 1968, is also connected to Berkshire Hathaway (he's a director of the company) and served as Founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern California Public Radio. For many years, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (which happens to be owned by one Charles Munger) has named Olson one of California's most influential lawyers, acknowledging his work for clients like Yahoo!, the J. Paul Getty Trust, Shell Oil, Michael Ovitz and Paramount chairman Brad Grey.

Own It

Aside from its reluctance to expand geographically, Munger Tolles is atypical in that it promotes an "ownership mentality" among its ranks. In adherence to this culture, partners are allowed to weigh in on the pay of their fellow partners, and all attorneys may vote on all job candidates and review the firm's financial books. A highly selective firm in terms of both hiring and its acceptance of cases, Munger Tolles has historically rewarded those who make it through the hiring gauntlet with an accelerated path to partner: the average associate can be considered for the partnership within five to seven years. While the firm keeps its ranks lean, it prides itself on the diversity of talent within its doors-clients who hire Munger Tolles may find themselves with lawyers who hold graduate degrees in history, literature, medicine, economics or physics.

Winning on Pacific Time

Proving that the West Coast can be the best coast, Munger Tolles made headlines in 2008 when The American Lawyer placed it atop the magazine's "A-List." It was the first time the honor had gone to a firm outside New York, but not the last: Munger Tolles placed #1 on the AmLaw A-List for three consecutive years. Today Munger Tolles operates over a half-dozen practice areas, with growing strength in criminal investigations and defense, as well as appellate work. Niche practices include tax and bankruptcy. The firm counts among its clients some of California's largest companies (think entertainment, energy and retail), national corporations, large universities, foreign government agencies and international corporations.


April 2014

All in the Family
Munger Tolles is among Yale Law Women's 2014 Top Ten Family Friendly Firms, which recognizes law firms that are leaders in developing and implementing family friendly policies and practices. As Yale Law Women noted in its report of the firm, "75% of the 2013 partner class was women, and more than half of the associates promoted to partner in the past five years have been women." All six attorneys promoted to partner in the last two years are parents, including five women.

March 2014-April 2014

Hit the Bench
The U.S. Senate confirmed two Munger Tolles partners to serve as judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Michelle T. Friedland-whose practice focused on antitrust litigation, appellate matters and constitutional and academic affairs litigation for higher education institutions-was confirmed April 28. John Owens, a former federal prosecutor who focused on representing individuals and corporations in government investigations, was confirmed March 31. They follow former Munger Tolles partner Paul J. Watford, who joined the appellate bench in 2012.

January 2014

Playing Defense
Munger Tolles lawyers successfully defeated a 16-year-old class action seeking as much as $1 billion from client Philip Morris, landing it in the Daily Journal's Top Verdicts of 2013 list in the "Top Defense Results" category. The plaintiffs alleged that Philip Morris violated a number of California laws through its marketing of Marlboro Lights, and sought $545 million to $1 billion in restitution, in addition to various forms of injunctive relief. The firm beat back the suit by deposing a sample of 156 class members, revealing that the plaintiffs were not misled and suffered no economic damages in their purchase of Marlboro Lights.

New Partner Class is All Women
Munger Tolles welcomed two colleagues to its single-tier partnership ranks. Hailyn J. Chen and Bethany Woodard Kristovich are both Los Angeles-based litigators. AmLaw Daily noted that Munger Tolles is the only AmLaw 200 firm to have an all-woman partner class in 2014.

October 2013

A Victory for Equality
A team of Munger Tolles litigators was awarded the California State Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for a Law Firm Team. The team representing LGBT advocacy group Equality California successfully defended Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts ("SOCE") on minor patients. The law was challenged in two different lawsuits by practitioners of SOCE, sometimes called "reparative" or "conversion" therapy.

September 2013

Beat This
The Munger Tolles Corporate Group represented Beats Electronics LLC, the audio brand co-founded by legendary artist and producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine. In September 2013, the company announced an equity investment by The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG), the global alternative asset manager, and a new bank facility. Beats also announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to reacquire the minority stake in Beats held by HTC Corp. Munger Tolles lawyers guided the company through the simultaneous transactions.

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Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

355 South Grand Avenue
35th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071-1560
Phone: (213) 683-9100


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partner: Sandra Seville-Jones
  • Hiring Attorneys: Manuel F. Cachan and Katherine H. Ku
  • Total No. Attorneys 2014: 188

  • Employment Contact
    Ms. Kevinn C. Villard
    Director of Legal Recruiting
    Phone: (213) 683-9242
    Fax: (213) 683-5142

  • Base Salary
    All offices
    1st year: $160,000
    2nd year: $170,000
    3rd year: $185,000
    4th year: $210,000
    5th year: $230,000
    6th year: $250,000
    7th year: $265,000
    Summer associate: $3,080/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    22 out of 25 (2013)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Financial Restructuring
    Labor & Employment
    Real Estate

Major Office Locations

  • Los Angeles, CA (HQ)
  • San Francisco, CA

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