Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP at a Glance

Uppers

  • “Egalitarian culture”
  • “A lot of early responsibility”
  • “Associates are encouraged to be involved in firm governance”

Downers

  • “Some partners are bad managers”
  • “Perfectionism—sometime to the point of being inefficient and wasteful”
  • “Lack of clarity about what it takes to make partner”

The Buzz

  • “Warren Buffet's firm”
  • “Impressive advocates”
  • “Snooty”
  • “Elitist”

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 DOJ, the EPA, 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 long-time Munger Tolles client.

Tolles passed away in 2008, leaving Ronald L. Olson as the last 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 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 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.

IN THE NEWS

April 2016
I Like to Merge It, Merge It

Munger Tolles was party to one of the biggest deals in Hollywood: the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation by NBCUniversal for $3.8 billion. Attorneys from the firm represented independent directors on DreamWorks Animation's board of directors. The merger will allow NBCUniversal and its parent company, Comcast, the ability to utilize DreamWorks properties, including "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar," and "How to Train Your Dragon."

January 2016
Breaking Ground for Building Hope

Ron Olson, name partner of Munger, Tolles & Olson, was honored for his long history of public service by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), which broke ground on Jan. 19, 2016 on its new headquarters, named the Ron Olson Justice Center. Olson has championed numerous pro bono matters during his five-decade legal career, including securing a landmark settlement in 2014 on behalf of homeless veterans in Los Angeles.

September 2015
Jury Relieves UC of Privacy Claim

Munger Tolles obtained a jury verdict for The Regents of the University of California after the UCLA Health System was accused of breaching a woman's medical privacy by negligently releasing her medical records. Following a seven-day trial-that was first-chaired by an associate-in which the plaintiff sought $1.25 million in damages, the jury returned a defense verdict for UCLA, finding that the university did not release the plaintiff's medical records. The trial victory earned the firm recognition as The Recorder's Privacy and Data Security Department of the Year and Law360's Privacy Practice Group of the Year.

August 2015
A Cast Iron Acquisition

Munger Tolles represented Berkshire Hathaway in its acquisition of Precision Castparts Corp., a manufacturer of complex metal components and products, for $37.2 billion in one of Berkshire's largest deals, according to media reports.

May 2015
A Winning Team

Brad Brian was selected to serve as the new co-managing partner of Munger Tolles, joining Sandra Seville-Jones, who has served as managing partner since 2009. A nationally recognized trial lawyer and leader in the legal community, Brian will focus on growing the firm's next generation of leadership and expanding client relationships.

April 2015
Top Tier Litigators

Munger Tolles was named one of California's top-three litigation departments for 2015 by The Recorder. The publication pointed to the firm's successful defenses of Transocean, Wells Fargo, and Philip Morris USA. "Defendants in these complex cases were facing crippling damages and stinging headlines. But in each case, clients represented by Munger, Tolles & Olson came out on top," The Recorder reported.

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Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

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

Stats

  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing Partners: Brad Brian and Sandra Seville-Jones
  • Hiring Attorneys: Bethany Kristovich, Carolyn Luedtke and Greg Weingart
  • Total No. Attorneys 2016: 202

  • Base Salary
    All offices
    1st year: $180,000
    2nd year: $190,000
    3rd year: $210,000
    4th year: $235,000
    5th year: $260,000
    6th year: $280,000
    7th year: $300,000
    8th year: $315,000
    Summer associate: $3,461/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    29 out of 32 (2Ls) (2015)

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Corporate
    Environmental
    Financial Restructuring
    Labor & Employment
    Litigation
    Real Estate
    Tax

Major Office Locations

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