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.
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 all weigh
in on the pay of their fellow partners, and all attorneys may vote
on all job candidates, review the firm's financial books and
participate in all important firm decisions. 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 at the firm. 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
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
IN THE NEWS
A Good Place for Moms (and Dads)
For the second year in a row, Munger Tolles was named to Yale Law
Women's 2015 Top Ten Family Friendly Firm list. The list recognizes
law firms that are demonstrated leaders in developing and
implementing family friendly policies and practices. The firm was
also recognized for its superior performance in two gender equity
categories: at least 50 percent of attorneys promoted to partner in
2014 were women and the firm's executive or management committee
was comprised of at least 40 percent women.
That's a lot of Ketchup
Munger Tolles represented Berkshire Hathaway in its backing of a
proposed merger between H.J. Heinz Company and Kraft Foods Group to
form The Kraft Heinz Company. The merger will create the
third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the
fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world.
Set up for Success
Munger Tolles introduced its revamped MTO Fellows Program in late
2014. With an enrollment of 40 candidates for the 2015-2016 year,
the one-year program aims at increasing the diversity of those
applying and being accepted to law school. The program will prepare
a group of fellows for admission to and success in law school by
providing assistance with their law school applications and LSAT
preparation, hosting monthly workshops designed to prepare them for
the demands of the application process and law school and helping
them build a strong and broad professional network.
Creativity for the Win
Munger Tolles won an important victory for Activision Blizzard Inc.
and other creative content developers when it obtained a dismissal
with prejudice of a lawsuit brought by former Panamanian dictator
Manuel Noriega over his depiction in the popular videogame "Call of
Duty: Black Ops II." Activision had warned that, if the lawsuit
been allowed to proceed, its efforts could have had a chilling
effect on a variety of creative content.
Cleaning up the Mess
A team of Munger Tolles trial lawyers, led by co-managing partner
Brad D. Brian, successfully obtained a favorable ruling for
Transocean Ltd. in the first phase of multidistrict litigation
arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill
into the Gulf of Mexico. The ruling effectively eliminated
Transocean's financial risk arising from the spill.
Turn it Up
Munger Tolles represented Beats Electronics, maker of the popular
Beats headphones, speakers and audio software, and Beat Music, the
subscription streaming music service, in the companies' $3 billion
acquisition by Apple.