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ORANGE COUNTY

Volume 129, 2016 • $6.95

Have You Got What Clients Want?

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Why Is Your Law Firm Getting Clicks but No Cases?

Robert Padgett

Death of the Billable Hour: A Eulogy

Kevin Bielawski Leveraging Offline Activities to Boost Your Firm's Online Results

Corrie Benfield

PROFESSIONAL PROFILES OF THE MONTH

Adrienne D. Cohen

Fearless, Forward-Thinking, and Fun

Jason Daniel Feld

of Ulich, Ganion, Balmuth, Fisher & Feld LLP

Attorney of the Month

Linda Luna Lara Lara & Luna APC, La Mirada The Employee’s Advocate

5 Easy Ways to Create a Healthy, LessStressed Workplace

Leigh Stringer Why Are You at the Office Until 10 p.m.?

Jay Harrington


KA

Keller/Anderle LLP BUSINESS TRIAL LAWYERS


Specialization matters. Having represented more law firms over the last 25 years than any other broker in the region, no one understands their real estate needs better than I do. — JASON HUGHES President & CEO, Hughes Marino

ORANGE COUNTY CORPORATE REAL ESTATE ADVISORS

At Hughes Marino we only represent tenants and buyers – never landlords – so we never have a conflict of interest. Our only fiduciary duty is to our client, the tenant, and we are wholly committed to protecting their interests. If you are not happy with your service or results, then we will give you our commission. Guaranteed. (949) 333-3111 | hughesmarino.com

ORANGE COUNTY LOS ANGELES SAN FRANCISCO SILICON VALLEY SAN DIEGO


2016 EDITION—NO.129

TABLE OF CONTENTS

16

6 Why Is Your Law Firm Getting Clicks But No Cases? by Robert Padgett

8 Death of the Billable Hour: A Eulogy by Kevin Bielawski

10 Have You Got What Clients Want? by Merrilyn Astin Tarlton EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER Brian Topor EDITOR Wendy Price CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners CIRCULATION Angela Watson PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths STAFF WRITERS Jennifer Hadley Bridget Brookman Karen Gorden CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Kevin Bielawski Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Corrie Benfield Robert Padgett Jay Harrington Leigh Stringer Monty McIntyre

12 COMMUNITYnews 14 Leveraging Offline Activities to Boost Your Firm's Online Results by Corrie Benfield

ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH

16 Linda Luna Lara Lara & Luna APC, La Mirada The Employee’s Advocate

SUBMIT AN ARTICLE Editorial@AttorneyJournal.us OFFICE 30211 Avenida De Las Banderas Suite 200 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 www.AttorneyJournal.us ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.

by Leigh Stringer

24 Why Are You at the Office Until 10 p.m.?

by Jennifer Hadley

26

WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES info@AttorneyJournal.us

22 5 Easy Ways to Create a Healthy, Less-Stressed Workplace

30

by Jay Harrington

PROFESSIONAL PROFILES OF THE MONTH

26 Adrienne D. Cohen Law Offices of Adrienne D. Cohen, Santa Ana Fearless, Forward-Thinking, and Fun

by Karen Gorden

30 Jason Daniel Feld Ulich, Ganion, Balmuth, Fisher & Feld LLP, Newport Beach

by Karen Gorden

Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2016 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA


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Why Is Your Law Firm Getting Clicks but No Cases?

by Robert Padgett

It’s

a common story. Your firm has invested in its website and digital marketing efforts, either in-house or with a vendor. Reports show an increase in visibility, traffic, clicks, impressions, and other metrics, but you can’t attribute much, or any, new business to your online marketing. There is a serious issue with the lack of attention that some digital marketing agencies, and law firms, place on ROI. They instead choose to focus on visibility, impressions, traffic and clicks. With the steady growth of Facebook Ads and the importance of online advertising in general, many savvy law firms are increasing their investments in digital marketing. As with any marketing investment, it is important to know what to measure and how. At the end of any analysis, it should all come back around to ROI. If the reports that you are getting about your website, and its performance, are showing solid traffic and clicks, but very little in the way of conversions (contacts), there may be some issues with content, design, or conversion methods. In addition to onsite factors, one of the many potential explanations has to do with growing issues related to bot visits, ad reporting and click fraud. Lately there have been several articles addressing issues with ad reporting and fraud: • The Economist: The article discusses Dentsu, a large agency that admitted overbilling by its digital-ad division in Japan; it also states that Facebook says it had inflated the average time that people spent watching video ads. These and other reports have contributed to an increasing concern among online advertisers that their ad dollars are not being spent efficiently. There are growing doubts about the trust that can be placed in some agencies and online media investments. • MIT Technology Review: This article talks about bots, and their ubiquity on the web. They perform lots of functions and tasks at varying levels of helpfulness to humans. As the article states, “They gather data about Web pages, they correct vandalism on Wikipedia, they generate spam and even emulate humans. And their impact is growing. By some measures, bots account for 49 percent of visits to Web pages and are responsible for over 50 percent of clicks on ads.” But what is the value of a bot clicking your law firm’s ad? • Ad Week: The post, “Bots Will Cost Digital Advertisers $7.2 Billion in 2016, says ANA study” further explores issues that bots bring into play with digital advertising. 6  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

Law Firms Should Keep the Focus on ROI To help protect your firm against wasting money on marketing efforts that aren't paying off, it is beneficial to consider doing the following: • Share Case Data. Sharing case data with your vendor will provide necessary information to determine if the leads generated by the campaigns are good quality. It will also assist in the decision-making process of whether to continue with the same strategy or make changes. • Request or Compile Better Data. Don’t solely rely on clicks, visits, impressions and click-through rates. Look at leads, cost per case, cases signed for each traffic source, and of course return on investment (ROI). • Watch Carefully When Using Cost-Per-Impression (CPI or CPM) Campaigns. CPM buying using programmatic or interest-based targeting methods across networks can be particularly suspect and may not be very effective. Watch your results closely and track as much data as you can. With PayPer-Click advertising, like with Google AdWords, you only pay when an ad is clicked. Although you may still get fraudulent clicks, Google has a decent filter to protect against this and minimize damage. • Ask Questions. When dealing directly with ad networks, ask for information on how they are combating bot activity and fraudulent behavior. If you are given vague answers or someone disparages such questions, that is a red flag. • Focus Your Campaign. If you focus your campaign so that ads only show in your geographic area of interest, it will provide better results for your campaign and will avoid spam or suspicious traffic coming from other countries. If you have an in-house marketing team or work with an online advertisement agency, make sure that they are data-driven and measure results that matter. This will allow you to make better investment decisions as well as provide better marketing results. n Robert Padgett serves as a Senior Marketing Consultant at Consultwebs.com. In his role, he develops, plans and carries out online marketing strategies for our law firm clients.


IS YOUR LAW FIRM MAKING THE BEST IMPRESSION?

We’ll help you put your best foot forward. From logos and brochures to websites, strategy, writing and beyond, we’ve got you covered! Jenny Strauss, Partner & Brand Strategist (215) 460-0835 jenny@skidmutro.com

View our portfolio at skidmutro.com Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  7


Death of the Billable Hour: A Eulogy by Kevin Bielawski

L

ast month, I participated on a panel at the 2016 Futures Conference. My assigned task was to discuss whether the billable hour would finally be dead by 2026. That got me thinking about the future event that would mark the passing of the billable hour as we know it. Would there be a final hourly invoice, billed and paid by a client, signifying the system's demise? Would there be a funeral for the billable hour? And if so, who would be there to eulogize it and what would that sound like? The eulogy might sound something like this: We are gathered here today to honor and pay our respects to William "Able" Hour, or "Bill" as many of us came to know him. Bill Hour had a long career, providing many with joy and others with hand-wringing over the intended and unintended negative consequences he created. Bill would regularly and effortlessly put the client’s interests in conflict with those of lawyers. He was very adept at hiding the true cost of a project and shunned providing clients with any level of predictability. Bill Hour would take great pride in promoting redundancy and over-lawyering. His knack for having clients pick up the tab for process inefficiencies, bill padding and training was unmatched. I recall a time when Bill and I were returning from a client’s office. We had just landed a very important project, and I asked Bill if we should develop a budget, project plan or timeline that would identify key milestones. Bill assured me, with a wink and a smile, there was no need as he “had it covered.”

ALAS, THE DEATH OF THE BILLABLE HOUR IS NOT TO BE I believe the billable hour will still be alive in 2026. How so? A few drivers are keeping the billable hour alive, including:

8  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

• An unwillingness by some law firms (or partners within firms) to offer pricing alternatives. • A law firm dependence on billable hour targets. • Cost accounting that typically drives law firm profitability calculations. • Clients that are still more comfortable with billable hour arrangements. • Clients addicted to the billable hour data they mine internally or receive from their e-billing vendors, allowing for simple quantitative comparisons. • Sophisticated or complex legal work that warrants an hourly billing arrangement. But there are some changes we should see over the next 10 years: • An increase in legal services and products as subscriptions. • Less emphasis on billable hour targets at firms. • Law firm business models that don't rely on the billable hour to calculate profitability. • A growing number of clients that favor outcome or valuebased metrics and rely less on some quantitative metrics like hourly billing rates. n Kevin Bielawski has 20 years of experience in the legal industry in various financial roles. As director of Legal Project Management & Strategic Pricing at Husch Blackwell, he consults with firm partners and clients to identify business objectives, value perspective, process inefficiencies and assist with solution development and implementation. He regularly leads the execution of fee arrangements that meet clients' budget demands. Kevin is a Certified Project Management Professional and a Legal Lean Sigma White Belt. Previously published in Attorney at Work.


REFERRAL & CO-COUNSEL RELATIONSHIPS

Your

NEVADA

P ERS O NAL INJ URY PARTN ER

NEVADA’S LARGEST & HIGHEST RATED INJURY LAW FIRM Your

NEVADA

“Rick is one of the best lawyers in the country. I call him every time I have any issue in Nevada and would not hesitate to refer O NAL INJ URY PARTN ER him any type of case ofP ERS any size.” ~ C. Michael Alder, Esq., Alder Law, Los Angeles, California CAALA Past President and Former Trial Lawyer of the Year

“I recently co-counseled a serious Las Vegas injury case with Rick Harris and his law firm. Rick’s advocacy and skills are extraordinary, and were instrumental in resolving and maximizing our client’s sizable recovery.” ~ Carl Wolf, Esq., Callaway & Wolf Northern California Super Lawyers San Francisco, California

© 2016 RHLF


by Brian Tracy

Have You Got What Clients Want?

by Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Y

ou can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts about legal marketing … apply expert advice to your social media and blogging routine … study up on how to build your personal network, entertain prospects and ask for the business — yet you still may not get that client. Because it’s not just a matter of packaging and advertising. Things start to get real when people have the chance to gauge you up close as a person and a professional. Kick the tires. Check the chemistry. Assess your ability. See if the product is as advertised.

How Do You Measure Up with Clients? In today’s buyer’s market for legal services, clients expect certain things of a lawyer — of you. And if they check but find you wanting, you may get clients, but they won’t stay and they certainly won’t refer their friends and colleagues to you. So explore this basic list and see how you stack up. These are the things the best clients assume about the lawyers they engage. Have you got what it takes? Knowledgeable. You are a good, smart and effective lawyer, constantly learning and building new skills to help clients solve their current and developing legal problems. Accessible. You aren’t difficult to find. You use technology along with trained staff to make certain you are easy to connect with when connection is necessary. Ethical. You accept the responsibility to know and conform to the ethical and legal requirements of a law practice. Independent and responsible. You take personal

10  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

responsibility for building your own law practice, regardless of the size, setting or location of your firm. And you take responsibility for getting things right, regardless of who is involved. Value oriented. You know that fees based solely on how long it takes to do the work are a thing of the past. Instead, you extend fees reflecting the work’s value to your client. Technologically savvy. You are whip-smart about the application of evolving technologies to better meet clients’ needs. You create efficiency and cost savings wherever you can. Creative. You know more than the law. You know how to make it work in ways that help your client. You know how to focus on the solution, not just the problem. Plugged in. You know what’s happening in the world, and in your clients’ industry or community. Personable. People look forward to working with you to sort out their troubles. Dare we say you even, sometimes, make it fun? n Merrilyn Astin Tarlton has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is Partner/Catalyst at Attorney at Work, a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Her book “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over” will be out in November. Learn more about Merrilyn here and follow her on Twitter @astintarlton. Previously published in Attorney at Work.


COMMUNITY news n Berger Kahn is proud to be listed among the finest firms in the country with this recognition to the list of “Best Law Firms” in Commercial Litigation and Insurance Law. The Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” ranking is based on a rigorous process of evaluation that includes peer reviews, client reviews, and more and is reserved for less than 4% of all law firms.

CRAIG SIMON

n Latham & Watkins LLP is pleased to announce that 27 associates have been elected to the partnership and 28 associates have been promoted to the role of counsel, effective January 1, 2017. The group includes lawyers from across the firm’s five departments who are based in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States, providing clients with a breadth of resources ANDREW R. GRAY and experience in the world’s major financial, business and regulatory centers. In Orange County, Andrew R. Gray has been promoted to Partner. Gray is a member of the Litigation & Trial Department whose practice focuses on securities litigation and professional liability. He represents public companies, directors and officers in securities class action suits, shareholder derivative litigation, corporate control and DANIEL E. REES merger disputes, SEC investigations and enforcement actions, and other complex litigation. Gray received his JD from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in 2007. Daniel E. Rees has also been promoted to Partner. He is a member of the Corporate Department whose practice encompasses a broad spectrum of corporate matters, including M&A, capital markets and other strategic transactions, as well as takeover defense, securities law compliance and corporate governance. His clients include companies and investment banking firms in public and private transactions and various securities offerings, including initial public offerings. Rees received his JD from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law in 2007.

Have a Press Release you would like to submit for our Community News? Email it to PR@AttorneyJournal.us

12  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

n California's legal newspaper, The Daily Journal, has named Umberg Zipser (U/Z) as one of the Top Boutique Law Firms in California for 2016—one of only 20 firms statewide receiving this distinction. The annual Top Boutiques list honors law firms that have achieved exceptional results in one practice TOM UMBERG area—Umberg Zipser was selected for Litigation. The Daily Journal’s article featured an in-depth discussion of the firm’s representation of the California State Controller’s office with co-counsel Manatt Phelps & Phillips against software giant SAP in a case involving the multi-million-dollar failure of the largest government payroll modernization effort in the nation, noting the firm’s “unique qualifications for dealing with matters at the intersection of law and government.” After several years of litigation, the case settled earlier this year with a $59 million payment to the Controller’s Office, plus agreement from SAP to drop a $23 million claim. The article notes co-founding partner Tom Umberg’s government experience as a legislator, combined with his litigation expertise, as critical in successfully resolving the State Controller’s case against SAP. It mentions Umberg’s observation that, "There’s a history that when government gets shortchanged, it can’t always successfully hold a private party accountable. I don’t think SAP understood that the controller wasn’t going to back down.” n Traut Firm has announced that Pamela Liosi has been confirmed by the National Board in Lake Tahoe as a new member of the Orange County Chapter of ABOTA. With a track record of legal leadership, Pamela served two terms as President of the Italian American Lawyers of PAMELA LIOSI Orange County in 2013 and 2014. She is a member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, California State Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association, and she serves on the board of the Robert A. Banyard Inn of Court as Membership Chairperson. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law, teaching Legal Research and Writing at Western State College of Law.


COMMUNITY news n Newmeyer & Dillion LLP is pleased to announce that U.S. News–Best Lawyers® recognized six practice areas from its Orange County office for inclusion in its Best Law Firms rankings for 2017. Five of the six areas were ranked as tier 1, the highest ranking available, including commercial litigation, construction JEFF DENNIS law, insurance law, litigationconstruction and litigation-real estate. Real estate law was also recognized as tier 3. Jeff Dennis, Newmeyer & Dillion’s Managing Partner, believes these rankings reflect the quality of work Newmeyer & Dillion offers. “Our firm was built on the culture of excellent personalized service and achieving the best results possible. This is a great honor for our firm knowing that our clients and peers value the offerings we provide.” Firms included in the 2017 Best Law Firms list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

n Brown & Charbonneau, LLP congratulates top-rated business attorney Gregory G. Brown, who has been selected for inclusion on The Best Lawyers in America© 2017 list—an annual list universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. The annual Best Lawyers list has been published since 1983 and, for the last GREG BROWN 6 years, has been published in the U.S. News & World Report. “It is an honor to receive this important peer recognition from The Best Lawyers in America,” said Gregory G. Brown. “Since the firm was founded in 2002, our firm has been committed to providing the highest quality legal services to all of our clients. We look at this recognition as a reminder of this founding commitment.”

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  13


Leveraging Offline Activities to Boost Your Firm's Online Results

by Corrie Benfield

It’s

no secret that having a strong online marketing strategy is essential for any law firm these days. What many lawyers need to know, though, is how you can leverage your offline activities to give you a leg up online. As an active professional and dedicated member of your community, you are likely already involved in plenty of endeavors that could improve your online presence. Now, you just need to take that extra step to tie those into your online marketing campaign.

HOW CAN THESE EVERYDAY PURSUITS AFFECT YOUR FIRM’S ONLINE RESULTS? Focusing on great client service. Of course, most law firms strive to provide excellent client service, especially since many new clients will come to you through referrals. However, you may not always be thinking about how those in-person relationships with clients can translate to online referrals. Make sure you have a process in place to help your satisfied clients leave you positive reviews on Google, Yelp, and other trusted ratings sites. On the flip side, take a hard look at your intake process to ensure you are leaving a friendly and positive impression even with people who don’t end up as clients. Research has shown that customers who have a bad experience are more than 50 percent more likely to leave a review online than those who have a positive experience. Taking an active role in your community. Many attorneys are happy to give back to the communities they serve, either by volunteering, sponsoring events, or donating to local charities. Whether these efforts benefit causes near and dear to your heart or causes that support your clients’ interests, these types of activities can add depth to your brand online. When volunteering at an event, take photos and videos to post to your site and share on social media, tagging the 14  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

organization to further your reach. And remember to ask charities that you support or organizations that you sponsor to link from their site to yours in return. Participating in social clubs or pursuing your passion for hobbies. Not only do these types of activities improve your work-life balance, they provide an opportunity for website content that encourages potential clients to connect with you on a personal level. For example: Are you an avid motorcyclist? Do you enjoy Sunday rides with your bicycle club? Do you spend your weekends rebuilding old cars? Are you a culinary mastermind? Or are you adept at all things DIY? Reading about your professional experience online may give clients confidence in your legal abilities, but learning that you have hobbies in common may sway them to choose you over the competition. Building relationships with media outlets. Make an effort to connect with local reporters to establish yourself as the go-to resource for commentary on hot topics in your practice area. In addition to issuing news releases on the awards you receive and accomplishments you achieve, consider making yourself available to write op-eds on controversial laws, comment on the legal issues surrounding trending topics, and share insightful analysis on pending cases that other attorneys can’t discuss. Every press release you send out will garner links back to your site. And links to every media appearance or article you are quoted in help establish you as an attorney who is at the top of his/her game. Booking speaking engagements. Whether you are leading an educational seminar for other attorneys or hosting a Q&A on a hot topic for potential clients, you are likely to make some good in-person connections through speaking engagements. However, you should also make sure that all online and email promotions for your speaking engagements link back to your website, and consider giving the audience a reason to visit your


site after your talk. Perhaps they could download a copy of your PowerPoint, a free copy of an ebook you’ve written, a useful checklist, or a list of additional resources. Writing guest articles. Look for opportunities to be a guest author, whether it’s for a local newspaper, a bar publication, or a law review. Because a majority of publications also have online versions, linking to your articles from your website can establish you as an authority on certain subjects. And that’s something that will resonate with both referring attorneys and potential clients. Staying active in professional organizations. Your involvement in local bar associations, civic organizations, and other professional networking groups provides obvious opportunities to make new connections. Showing your involvement in those organizations on your website establishes credibility with clients, especially when comparing you to another lawyer who doesn't have that long list of credentials. Sharing news of your awards and honors. You should be proud of the awards, honors, and rankings you receive. They provide social proof of how much clients and peers appreciate the work you do. Include information about awards and recognition, in the form of logos such as Super Lawyers or the Better Business Bureau, on your website to build credibility among visitors.

Being the successful lawyer you are. Just doing your job and winning cases plays a huge part in building your reputation both offline and online. Highlighting your prominent cases and subsequent results on your website shows potential clients that you have a strong record of success and the capacity to take on complex, large cases.

ROUND OUT YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE There’s no denying the power of a personal referral, but there’s also no way to ignore the increasing power of online searches. A recent survey from FindLaw, for example, showed that 38 percent of people found lawyers through online searches, versus 29 percent who asked a friend or relative. That’s a massive jump from the 7 percent who hired a lawyer from online searches in 2005. Although the way people are finding a lawyer may be changing, the qualities they're looking for haven’t. Your online presence should reflect your character, your personality, and your professionalism. That way potential clients can see you as the well-rounded lawyer that you are. n Corrie Benfield brings a deep background in journalism and legal writing to her role as a Web Content Editor with Consultwebs, where she edits and writes a wide array of content that is search engine-optimized and informative to those in need of legal help.

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  15


THE EMPLOYEE'S

ADVOCATE Linda Luna Lara Works Hard and Wins Big For Workers Wronged By Employers

B

by Jennifer Hadley

ased on my personal experiences of witnessing the effects of a wrongful termination and the financial and emotional devastation it can cause on an individual and family I became wholeheartedly passionate about employee rights,” says Linda Luna Lara, Founding Partner at Lara & Luna, APC. Indeed, Lara has been dedicated to employees’ rights and serving the community dating back to a young age based on the values instilled in her by her father. The reason? The rewards she’s reaped have been unquantifiable. Lara has truly gone above and beyond to help others to the best of her ability. She takes pride in her pro bono work with legal organizations such as Kids In Need of Defense and involvement in the Orange County Bar Community Outreach Committee working as a volunteer with the Orangewood Children’s Center and the St. Thomas More’s Legal Society’s volunteer work with Isiah’s house. “I’ve always felt like I’ve gotten back so much more than I’ve given,” she adds.

HARD WORKER BY NATURE Lara, an Orange County native, earned her B.A. at Cal State Fullerton and her law degree from Chapman University. After earning her J.D. in 2005, Lara knew she would eventually start her own law firm practicing employment law but knew that she needed to get hands-on experience in litigation to become an effective advocate for employees. “Every job I took on—even if not in the field I ultimately wanted to practice in—taught me valuable lessons. Working at an insurance defense firm and as an in-house counsel gave me the perspectives of how employment law cases are investigated and evaluated by insurance adjusters and employers. I also learned all about the billable hours put into these cases,” she says. Though there had never been any doubt in Lara’s mind about the fact that she was destined to work for the workers, she also knew that to practice law the way she wanted to practice law, she would need to open her own practice. “I have always envisioned 16  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

myself as a business owner, and after gaining the necessary experience in my first few years of practice, I was ready to open my own firm,” she explains.

WORKING EXCLUSIVELY FOR WORKERS In 2011, Lara did just what she always knew she would do: open a firm that focused exclusively on advocating for employee rights in the workplace. After starting her firm, she met Edward Lara, also an experienced attorney who shared the same passion for serving the community. The two partnered up together, forming the firm Lara & Luna. Incidentally, they were thereafter married and had two boys. “We represent employees who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against in other respects, and pride our firm in constantly staying updated on new cases, statutes and regulations that are coming out. We use the ongoing education along with our experience to our client’s advantage in litigating cases to maximize the outcome for them,” she says. But that’s not the only role that Lara fills as a ‘worker for the worker.’ The firm’s clients range from executive, to management, to hourly employees. As passionate as the firm is about the law, they are equally compassionate when working with clients who are dealing with feelings of shame, embarrassment, and frustration. “We counsel our clients through a wrongful termination and aggressively litigate their cases until judgement or settlement. We define our firm by three principles: integrity, tenacity, and client-centered representation. Our clients come to us after being told by their employer that they were being fired for something that was their fault, and they are often at a very low point in their confidence levels. We work hard to boost their morale, and assure them that everything is going to be alright, even though it may not seem that way in the moment,” she says. To that end, Lara & Luna, APC advocates on behalf


ATTORNEY

OF THE MONTH

© christopher TODD studios

2016 2014

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 124, 2016  17


© christopher TODD studios

of employees who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against because of disabilities, pregnancy, sex/ gender, race, or because they have become whistleblowers against their employers or have experienced some type of wage theft. Together with her partner, Edward Lara, the firm counts 4 attorneys, 1 post-bar clerk and a support staff, all working together for the common goal of helping those who need a strong voice to stand up to injustice, which all too often devastates not only an individual, but an entire family. “I put myself in the shoes of our clients in assessing their cases, and I often find myself taking on cases that other attorneys have rejected, because our firm is always up to date on the nuances of employment laws. As such, we can identify legal violations not previously identified, or even very distinct labor code cases that our clients don’t even realize they have suffered. Our job is to prove that the stated reason by the employer that an employee was fired was pretextual, or just an excuse to mask the real reason they were fired,” Lara says. By way of example, she recalls the case of a client who had worked for an engineering company for more than 20 years. “He was a father figure within the company. A female employee confided in him that she was being sexually harassed by a supervisor. Our client felt that the right thing to do was to bring both the employee and alleged harasser to the HR Department to report the allegations. Instead of conducting a good faith investigation or looking into the claims, the company fired our client for reporting the harassment. The termination caused a rippling affect in his family life,” she says. But the case would not be easy to prove, Lara says. “When he 18  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

came to me, he only had about 3 weeks to file a lawsuit before his statute of limitations would pass, and he had been rejected by other attorneys because he only spoke Spanish.” As partner in her bilingual law firm, Lara wasted no time. “I quickly prepared a lawsuit and was able to track down witnesses to bring up more facts about other instances of sexual harassment and other abuses by the alleged harasser, including extorting other employees. In the end, the company fired the harasser and I got a positive settlement for my client that assisted in giving his family financial stability. He was finally given a voice in litigation, and ultimately became a driving force in the company investigating its employees and cleaning house, and eliminating other bad actors. My client became a hero,” she says. Lara’s passion for protecting workers against unfair labor practices is uncompromised, regardless of perceived obstacles. “We have litigated cases against some of the largest employers in this country and do not back away from them. We have taken on companies including Wal Mart, Target and the City of Los Angeles. We will take on employers of any size,” she says. Continuing, she says, “Our attorneys personally evaluate and investigate each case, and we insist on staying current on new case law, statutes and regulations. This enables us to be creative in identifying claims, and updating our lawsuits. We are keen about getting important discovery to maximize results, challenge arbitration when we are able to, and enforcing the client’s rights to obtain necessary evidence either voluntarily or through court orders.” Moreover, the firm’s willingness to fully invest in cases up to and including trial ensures that each


client’s case gets the firm’s full attention. “We hand pick each case, to make sure that we have explored every angle, fully anticipate and prepare for any defenses and obtain witnesses, because we truly care and treat our clients attentively. I love the clients we represent as individuals, and want them to be in a better place both emotionally, and financially. We are here to give advice to get them and their families’ lives back on track after a difficult termination, even when that is not necessarily to our benefit. We encourage our clients to apply for other jobs immediately upon contacting us and encourage them to accept new positions to regain financial stability, even if it will decrease their award. This is about their wellbeing, first and foremost,” she says.

These days, Lara and her team are as busy as ever, with new employment law cases being referred by attorneys regularly. “Because we are exclusively dedicated to representing wronged employees, other attorneys referring clients to our firm know that we’re not going to take over their clients.” Not surprisingly, therefore, “A good deal of our business comes from referrals from fellow attorneys, and we are incredibly grateful for the trust they put in us to fight for those who have been wrongfully terminated or discriminated against. We always provide free initial consultations to any referral, and if we are unable to assist, we will always refer them to a government agency that may be able to assist,” she adds. Make no mistake, the cases that continue to land in Lara’s lap all share one thing in common: an employee has been illegally terminated or wrongfully discriminated against. However, the circumstances surrounding these wrongful actions are incredibly varied. She does note that of late, there has been an uptick in women standing up against sexual harassment, along with employees who are standing up for their rights after being discriminated against based on race. In addition, her firm is finding more whistleblowers on the receiving end of discriminatory actions. Suffice it to say, Lara and her team couldn’t be more eager to help. For example, the firm is currently

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MORE WORK TO BE DONE: UP TO THE CHALLENGE


Contact Linda Lara, Esq. Lara & Luna APC 16700 Valley View Ave., Suite 170 La Mirada, CA 90638 P: (562) 444-0010 LLara@LaraLunaLaw.com LaraLunaLaw.com

© christopher TODD studios

EXPERIENCE

handling a case where her client reported concerns regarding an individual who threatened to shoot and kill people at Cal State Fullerton. Upon learning that the individual had filed for a gun permit, Lara’s client—an employee working for a health care corporation— reported the individual to the school’s police department. The health care corporation terminated Lara’s client following the report. “The corporation is hiding the fact it wrongfully terminated our client when he was just trying to prevent a mass shooting at a school,” Lara says. In another case the firm is currently handling, Lara is representing a former employee of a non-profit, which is by design, supposed to empower women. “My client worked for an organization that was supposed to be an anti-bullying organization. However, after a student reported disturbing talk by a teacher towards students that had sexual connotations, my client reported on the problem to the superintendent. My client was wrongfully fired in a case where she was protecting young children at a school,” Lara says. In addition, Lara & Luna, APC is also currently handling several cases for individuals in the public sector against the City of Los Angeles, and the Montebello School District for termination of longterm employees after suffering disabling effects of a work injury. Regarding these and similar cases, Lara says firmly, “We are excited to be taking some of these cases to jury trials.” As far as the future is concerned for Lara, seeing her hard work come to fruition, by way of founding a highly respected firm, earning accolades such as being named a Super Lawyer, and maintaining a perfect 10.0 Avvo rating only drives her to continue to work even harder. “I want to empower my clients so that after coming to me feeling dejected and defeated following a negative employment experience, they walk away knowing they stood up for something. I want them to feel like they made a difference, and hopefully their action will result in impactful changes made by the company that acted illegally. I love to see clients break through the negative experience of a wrongful termination, and land on their feet in a positive way. I have had so many clients tell me that with settlement funds they were able to purchase a new home, provide for their children, and often end up getting a better job and are so much better off. I use these testimonials to encourage new clients, who have just been terminated to be hopeful. Something positive can come out of a very negative experience.” n

» EDUCATION • Chapman University School of Law, Juris Doctor – 2005 • California State University, Fullerton Political Science, Bachelor of Arts – 2002

» ASSOCIATIONS • California Employment Lawyers Association, Member – Since 2010 • Orange County Bar Association, Member – Since 2006 • State Bar of California Employment Law Section – Since 2011 • OCBA Community Outreach Committee, Member – Since 2010 • Chapman Law Alumni Advisory Board, Board of Director – From 2010-2012 • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, Board of Director in 2011 and Member Since 2010

» ACHIEVEMENTS/SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS • Super Lawyer – Rising Star, Super Lawyers – 2014-2015 • 10/10 Superb Avvo Rating • Chapman Law Distinguished Alumni Panel Presenter – 2016 • Orange County Hispanic Bar Association Travel Seminar Presenter – 2012 • Orange County Bar Labor & Employment Law Panel Presenter – 2011

20  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016


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Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  21


Five Easy Ways to Create a Healthy, Less-Stressed Workplace S

by Leigh Stringer

tress is a natural part of any good lawyer’s life. Recently, however, it’s been a bit much, no? Little wonder that soothing GIF that helps sync your breathing has gone viral again. And it works, for a while. But, between baseball, the U.S. elections, end-of-year deadlines and the impending holiday onslaught, you may need more robust advice than “Stay Calm and Carry On.” For this week’s five, we turned to workplace strategy expert and researcher Leigh Stringer, author of the new book, “The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line.”

Steps to Improve Your Health and Beat Back Stress at Work Over the years, says Stringer, we’ve all developed work styles that are not always good for our physical, mental or emotional health. “It’s not that we’re bad people, or that we aren’t working hard. The problem is we are so focused on work, that we’ve changed the way we eat, move and sleep in a way that is actually counter-productive.” Here are five ways to be healthier at work, add a little more zen, and get more done while you’re at it.

1. Build Flexibility into How, When and Where You Work

technology and the right protocols (so everyone knows how to reach you), but it can be incredibly empowering.

Adopt a more flexible work schedule. Vary your arrival and departure times, or try a compressed work week.

Move more. Are you sitting in one position all day? Change your position often and move around frequently—stand at a table in the break room, walk during conference calls.

Adjust your work environment. Even if you don’t have a desk that moves up and down, making small adjustments, like moving or adding a computer monitor, turning on a task light or re-orienting furniture can make a major difference in your posture and productivity.

2. Nurture “Biophilia” Humans have a strong desire to be in and among nature, says Stringer. This preference, often referred to as biophilia, was introduced by E.O. Wilson, who suggests there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Nurturing that bond at work can decrease stress: •

Add natural elements. Small plants or a water feature on your desk, or nearby, are soothing and reduce stress.

Move your desk next to a window. More natural light will decrease eye strain and improve well-being. Sitting close to a window can even help reset your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. No windows? Install a circadian lighting system designed to trigger wakefulness. Or, try screwing a “daylight” LED bulb into your office task light. You will be shocked by how much better you feel, says Stringer, and you will likely sleep better at night!

Add features that mimic nature. Pictures of trees and

Studies show people who feel more “in control” of their work and work environment are less likely to suffer from stress and illness and to see increases in productivity. Stringer suggests these options: •

Change where you work. Many people work more effectively at home, in a satellite office, co-working facility, a park or a coffee shop. Obviously this requires good 22  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016


water, furniture with organic rather than geometric shapes, and wood with a visible wood grain can serve as “natural analogues” and have the same biophilic impact as the real thing.

Pay attention to your sleep cycle. Stop sending your team texts at 10 p.m.

Teach a meditation or exercise class. Stringer says she met one leader who took the furniture out of a conference room and put in spin bikes so he could lead spin classes once a week.

Take the stairs. It’s good for cholesterol levels, for burning calories and for increasing collaboration at work. If you are in charge, make sure stairwells are safe, well-lit and inviting. Studies show that by simply putting up signs that explain the health benefits (i.e., a sign near the elevator that shows how many calories you can burn), stair usage increases by 54 percent.

Stay home when you are sick. People who come to work sick are very likely spreading their diseases to colleagues— and that reduces productivity. As tempting as it is for you to “power through” and minimize sick days, the overall health risk is not worth it.

3. Banish Distracting, Noisy Behavior To reduce noise distractions office-wide, separate energetic spaces from quiet areas, says Stringer. It’s important to put in a “buffer” between conference spaces or kitchenettes (where people are likely to mill around and talk) and individual workspaces. Also, define policies for space use (i.e., only use speaker phones in enclosed rooms or designate some rooms as “quiet” spaces). As for your personal space: •

Post warnings. Establish a “do not disturb” policy so your colleagues know when they can approach you.

Use technology to hush. Use noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds, or try one of the “white, brown or pink noise” phone apps on your phone with a set of earbuds.

Silence the warnings. Turn off the sounds on phones or devices that beep, chirp or buzz when you receive texts, emails or messages from social media.

4. Bring Your Pet to Work It’s true, pets in the office can have health benefits, improve morale, and even increase collaboration. Pet owners may even work longer hours if they don't feel they have to rush home to care for their pets. Can’t convince your colleagues to allow pets every day? Stringer has some alternatives: •

Introduce animal babies. Bring in puppies or kittens to work for a few hours. Sam Whiteside, Chief Wellness Officer at The Motley Fool, will bring in puppies when she knows a team is working hard on a deadline, to lighten things up.

Limit it to a day. Create a “bring your pet to work day.”

Take it outside. Allow pets to come to family picnics or events. Get a mascot. If you’ve ever been to the Hotel Algonquin in New York (or read “The Algonquin Cat”), you know this can be a competitive advantage.

5. Lead by Example One of the most influential tools to encourage healthy behavior at work is you. Stringer says injecting healthy changes into your own life will give you the knowledge you need to convince others to change. For example, you can: •

Eat better and bring in good, healthy foods to share when appropriate.

Integrate movement into your day. Organize a stand-up meeting, walk while you take a conference call, or try out an exercise desk.

By working changes like these into your own life, says Stringer, you will have more energy and you will understand the changes required to behave and work differently. That means you are more likely to be listened to by the people you are trying to convince. (After all, it’s really hard to take advice from someone who isn’t actually drinking the Kombucha.)

Location, Location, Location Finally, if you are relocating, consider moving near a park or public transportation. The proximity of your home or office to parks and other recreational facilities is consistently associated with higher levels of physical activity and healthier weight status, says Stringer. The same goes for proximity to public transit. In one study, train commuters walked an average of 30 percent more steps per day and were four times more likely to walk 10,000 steps per day than car commuters. Even if you can’t control the location of your home or office, keep this in mind when planning your commute. Less time in the car translates to more time on your feet. n Leigh Stringer, LEED AP, works for EYP, an architecture, engineering and building technology firm. She is currently collaborating with Harvard University’s School of Public Health, the Center for Active Design in New York, the International Facility Management Association and the AIA DC Chapter on Health and Well-being to create new tools to connect like minds and to blur the boundaries across industries to advance and improve our wellbeing at work. She is a regular contributor to Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution Blog and Work Design Magazine. In addition to “The Healthy Workplace,” she is the author of “The Green Workplace: Sustainable Strategies that Benefit Employees, the Environment and the Bottom Line.” Find her on Twitter @string0820. Previously published in Attorney at Work. Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  23


Why Are You at the Office Until 10 p.m.? T

he early days of my legal career at a big firm involved lots of late nights at the office. It seemed like I was routinely getting home around 11 p.m.—often later. It was a busy time, so late nights were required. But not always. Looking back, staying late all the time could have been avoided. My nocturnal schedule was a choice­—a result of my failure to make the necessary choices that could have helped me avoid exhaustion and burnout.

Staying Late at the Office is a Vicious Cycle You stay late, you get to bed late, then you get to the office late the next morning, at a time when the emails and phone calls start pouring in. You never give yourself a chance to get ahead, get organized, and get the work done when you should. Instead, you do those things when you can—typically at the end of the day when “it’s quiet,” after your clients have gone home, and all the inputs have stopped. The biggest problem is that the end of the day is the worst time to do the deep work that’s required to get ahead in your career. Instead of doing what’s most important, your day is spent doing what’s most urgent. Rather than playing golf, it’s like playing tennis, where all you do is return volleys, only to have them fired right back at you. The truth is, for most people, early morning is the best time to get deep work done. You may not consider yourself a morning person, and the idea of getting in the office at 7 a.m. is anathema. But have you pondered the possibility that the reason the morning is such a drag is that you’re exhausted from all the late nights? 24  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

by Jay Harrington

You can’t burn both ends of the candle. It’s unsustainable. So you need to make a choice.

Do You Want a Life, or Do You Want to Spend Your Life at the Office? It wasn’t until I stepped away from my legal career that I came to appreciate the benefits of starting early. Keep in mind that change like this doesn’t happen all at once. I used to start working around 9 a.m. When I decided to make a change, I slowly started setting my alarm a bit earlier. Every month I moved my wake-up call back by 15 minutes. It wasn’t long before I was starting my workday at 8 a.m., then 7 a.m. Now I get up most days around 4:45 a.m., get a workout in, and sit down with a cup of coffee at my iPad around 6 a.m. I’ve found that I can get more substantive work done from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. than I can from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The fact that it’s better to do important work in the morning is a no-brainer. Literally. If you’ve been working all day in a stressful profession such as the law, by the evening your brain is likely fried, productivity sags, and it’s almost certain that you won’t be doing your best work.

Start Your Day with a Sprint Perhaps more important than when you start working is what you start working on. To borrow from Mark Twain, you’ve got to eat that frog. Work is like fitness—it’s best done in short bursts of intensity, followed by periods of rest and recovery. So start the day with a sprint. Working in this manner has an added benefit. If you’re like most people, your best ideas (just like building muscle) come


during periods of recovery, when your mind is free to wander, and not in the midst of an intense work session. By taking the time to recover, you can then apply these “free range” ideas during your next period of work. According to psychologist Ron Friedman, the key to productivity is leveraging the first three hours of your day. Friedman was quoted in the Harvard Business Review about this point: “Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well.” Don’t save your most important work for the end of the day, whether that’s writing a brief, practicing a presentation, or strategizing a transaction. Do it first when your mind and body are fresh. Then get up, take a walk and have something to eat. Reserve your afternoons for meetings, phone calls and email. The perfect way to wrap up the day — hopefully by 6 p.m. — is by spending 15 minutes planning the next morning’s to-do list. That way you can head home with a clear head and your next day already mapped out.

The “Face Time Myth” If you’re a young lawyer you might be thinking: “Yeah, right. There’s no way I can leave that early every day. I’m expected to put in face time.” Trust me, I understand this mindset. It’s what I thought for most of my career as an associate. Only later did I learn that for most senior lawyers, the concept of face time is an irrelevancy. All that matters is results. If the lawyers who assign you work find you reliable, and have confidence that you’ll ask the right questions, exercise good judgment, and meet deadlines, then no one (at least no one that matters) will bat an eye if you’re heading for the elevators before the sun sets on a consistent basis.

Now Let's Get Real It’s foolhardy to think that you won’t have to work late once in awhile. Of course, the best-laid plans will go awry, and some days will be nothing but a chaotic mess. To paraphrase Cus D’Amato, who was one of Mike Tyson’s boxing managers and trainers, plans are great … until you get punched in the mouth. I urge you, though, not to make it a habit. No lawyer should accept that each day in a law firm must end in a conference room littered with carry-out containers of half-eaten Thai food. A legal career is hard. The work is stressful. Adversaries quadruple normal levels of anxiety. Don’t make things harder on yourself by working in a way that is unhealthy and unsustainable. Get up a little earlier. Get your work done. Then get out of the office and into the world. You’ll be a better lawyer—and person—for it. n Jay Harrington is co-founder of Harrington Communications, where he leads the Brand Strategy, Content Creation and Client Service teams. He is author of the book “One of a Kind: A Proven Path to a Profitable Practice,” as well as the e-book “How to Start Fast as a Law Firm Associate.” Previously, Jay was a commercial litigator and corporate bankruptcy attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Foley & Lardner. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism and earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He writes regularly for Attorney at Work. Follow him on Twitter @harringj75. Previously published in Attorney at Work.

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  25


Fearless, Forward-Thinking,

and Fun The Law Offices of Adrienne D. Cohen is Not Your Typical Insurance Coverage & Defense Firm by Karen Gorden

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drienne D. Cohen, founder of The Law Offices of Adrienne D. Cohen, with offices in Santa Ana and San Rafael, started her firm with a five-month-old baby, and a husband who was in law school full-time. “I was working for a litigation firm, and while I had a large book of business, I did not make partner. As disappointed as I was at the time, it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me,” she says with a smile. The decision Cohen made 20 years ago did indeed change the course of her career, though she admits that at the time the bold move was intimidating. “I gave notice, and notified my clients. I was terrified. But I knew I was a good lawyer and that my clients trusted me. Two of my very active clients came with me, and remain my clients to this day,” she says. From that moment on, Cohen has been full-steam ahead. “I opened my firm in May and was in trial by September,” she recalls.

Fearless By Nature Cohen’s fearlessness was publicly acknowledged soon after venturing out on her own. After winning an appeal in a published opinion, Cohen recalls The Daily Journal contacting her. “I had just started my own firm, and the reporter contacted me. The article that came out was titled something like “Shark Meets its Match in Defense Lawyer,” Cohen says with a laugh. “It was humbling and flattering.” Since that time, Cohen—who at one point dreamt of a career in theatre or music (until as she says, “Madonna stole 26  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

her job”)—has had four more published opinions, including the very recent Bigler-Engler v. Breg, Inc., 2016 Ca. App. LEXIS 921 (Cal. App. Oct. 28, 2016). In this published win for Cohen, The Daily Journal again featured the fearless attorney’s results—her appeal overturned a jury’s $12.7M award, resulting in the appellate court reducing the general damages from $5 million to $1.3 million. Furthermore, the court found that MICRA and Proposition 51 did indeed apply to her client, further reducing the award as Cohen’s client was found to be only 10% responsible for the claims. Opposing counsel have reason to fear Cohen; she’s clearly not a stereotypical insurance coverage and defense attorney. Cohen is a fierce trial attorney who loves litigation. Her recent admission into the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is evidence of just how deep her love for trial runs. “I’m very proud to have been admitted into ABOTA. It took a long time, and there aren’t a lot of female insurance coverage and defense attorneys admitted. But I do a lot of trials, and many of them are very long. We recently finished an 18-month period of three back-to-back-to-back trials,” she says. As proud as Cohen is of her individual accomplishments, it’s very clear that her greatest professional pride comes from the firm she’s built. “All of our attorneys practice insurance coverage and defense, which makes us exceptionally good at seeing the big picture,” she says candidly. In addition to versatility, the unity of the firm plays an invaluable role in success for clients. “Most of us have worked together for over 10 years, which


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gives consistency and quality to our work,” Cohen explains. By way of example she talks of a case wherein a terrible accident on the freeway resulted in the death of 4 individuals, with 8 others injured. “The insurance coverage was limited to $750,000. We had everyone fill out a questionnaire, and submit all medical records and bills, and worked hard to get everyone who was fighting with each other to settle every single claim. Our whole team was very proud of that. Of course, our client was very pleased as well.” Make no mistake, in cases where trial cannot be avoided, Cohen and her team rise to the occasion. “We are a small firm staffed with aggressive litigators. We earn and maintain the respect of our opposing counsel while also obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients. We always work towards an early and amicable resolution. However, we take cases to trial when necessary. We all have trial experience, and we are always ready for our next big trial,” she says earnestly.

Forward Thinking: Flexibility & Fun in The Firm The cohesiveness of Cohen’s firm is due in large part to Cohen’s flexibility with her team. “We are transitioning to a nearly paperless environment, and we store all files digitally. This allows our attorneys to be more efficient, and have the

flexibility to work remotely, which results in great value to our clients,” she says. Continuing she adds, “Some of our most experienced writers and litigators work from home a couple of days a week. These are outstanding attorneys who I would put up against any opposition out there. If they need to work from home because they have children, I am perfectly fine with that. “They don’t need me to babysit them.” Moreover, Cohen is certain that her flexibility with the attorneys who need or desire a modified work situation has allowed her firm to retain some incredible people. Cohen’s colleague Veronika Zappelli (based in the firm’s Northern California office) confirms this flexible arrangement has been incredibly well-received. “I have been an associate with the Law Offices of Adrienne D. Cohen for ten years. I find our firm to be unique in that most of us have stayed here for our entire legal careers. Our loyalty speaks to the mentorship we receive, the opportunities for career growth and success, and to the support Adrienne and the firm provide for our personal lives. This is truly a family friendly firm that allows us to enjoy professional success while also nurturing our personal and family relationships. Balance is important and it makes for good lawyers.” A second reason her team of attorneys and support staff have remained a loyal, long-term team is they simply refuse to take


© christopher TODD studios

"We all have trial experience, and we are always ready for our next big trial” themselves too seriously. “We have a good time together, and we support each other in having a good time outside of work as well,” Cohen says. “If you look at our Facebook page, you’ll see me wearing a pink wig. We make fun of ourselves, and we laugh often,” she says. But what about nurturing her inner Madonna, when she’s not in trial? She’s always thrilled to speak and participate in events and seminars with colleagues. For example, she spoke at two different events for The Rutter Group in November, held in San Francisco and in Marina del Rey. This month she’s a featured presenter at the Inaugural Construction Defect, Claims & Litigation Strategies ExecuSummit in Connecticut. And in March, she’ll be a panel speaker at The Seminar Group’s Insurance in the Construction Industry Seminar held in San Diego. Aside from work-related excitement, Cohen finds fulfillment in music, and jokingly describes herself as a “groupie,” who loves attending live concerts.

Suffice it to say, Cohen is grateful for her decision to forge her own path. She loves her work, and the opportunities it provides to learn, grow, and have fun, and her profound respect and enjoyment for her colleagues and clients is simply palpable. “We’ve worked with many of our clients for years, and our clients are good, fun people. So, every day, we get to work with people we genuinely like. I love my work.” n Contact Adrienne D. Cohen, Esq. The Law Offices of Adrienne D. Cohen 1551 N. Tustin Avenue, Suite 750 Santa Ana, CA 92705 1120 Nye Street, Suite 300 San Rafael, CA 94901 adc@adcohen.com adcohen.com Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016  29


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Jason Daniel Feld of Ulich, Ganion, Balmuth, Fisher & Feld LLP

“I have

known I wanted to be an attorney since 6th grade, when I did a Mock Trial in Junior High School. The strategic aspects of litigation continue to fuel my desire to practice law today,” says Jason Daniel Feld, Partner at Ulich, Ganion, Balmuth, Fisher & Feld, LLP. Feld grew up in Houston, Texas, where he was active in high school sports, Speech & Debate and obtained his Eagle Scout. He graduated from the University of Houston and moved to California to attend Whittier Law School where he graduated cum laude and was a member of the Law Review and Trial Advocacy Honors Board. While in law school, Feld had the distinct honor of serving as a judicial extern to the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Circuit Judge for U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit. Since beginning his law practice, Feld has been defending homebuilders, developers and contractors, to great success for over a decade, and in multiple states. Licensed to practice in Texas and Arizona in addition to California, Feld says, “Our firm is a boutique litigation and transactional firm specializing in the defense of homebuilders, developers and contractors, as well as governmental entities in their general liability, environmental, employment, construction defect, construction accident and insurance defense matters.” Personally, Feld is primarily involved with helping smaller “mom and pop” builder clients that are typically family owned and operated, which gives him the unique opportunity to not only handle their litigation matters, but also assist the company with overall best practices and risk prevention. Feld also serves as panel counsel for several prominent insurance carriers, which he explains, only makes him a better attorney. “Developing clients from both the direct builder/contractor community and from the insurance carriers who insure my clients is important. Having good relationships with both in this tripartite relationship maximizes the benefits to both my

30  Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 129, 2016

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client and their insurance carriers,” he says. Known for being pragmatic, strategic and client focused, Feld’s successful track record for obtaining favorable outcomes for clients and insurance carriers through litigation and alternative dispute resolution has earned him an AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, along with numerous Rising Star awards from Super Lawyers®. Not surprisingly, he’s also a sought-after expert for seminars such as the Annual Perrin National Construction Defect Conference, where he was a featured speaker last month in Ft. Lauderdale. As for when Feld isn’t busy fighting for what is fair for his clients? He’s working hard to improve the legal community, and his hometown community outside of the office. He and his wife Samantha—also an attorney, working as in-house counsel at College Health Enterprises—are extremely active in the Orange County Jewish community including their involvement with their local temple, Congregation B’Nai Israel in Tustin, the OC Jewish Federation, as well as being a founding member of the Orange County Jewish Bar Association. They have two beautiful young daughters, who are active in sports, school activities and their Indian Princess Group. “I also enjoy playing basketball at the JCC and volunteering as the Chapter Advisor for the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity Chapter at Cal State Fullerton” said Feld. Likewise, his firm is equally committed to service and charitable efforts, and proudly supports organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, Movember Foundation, Susan G. Koman Foundation, and the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE). So, what’s next for Feld, who’s already accomplished so much? “I plan on continuing to practice law for the next 20-25 years. I hope to grow my practice, and expand my work into Arizona and Texas to further service the needs of my builder and insurance carrier clients,” he says. We will keep an eye out for Jason as he continues to be a leader in the Orange County legal community. n

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