This lean, green, entertainment machine deals with all things A-list.
“We’re a mid-sized firm with the infrastructure and human power to take on BigLaw cases, but without a ‘billing-fest’ attitude,” an insider helpfully summed up. With star-studded Century City as its backdrop, “small but mighty” single-office Greenberg Glusker is known far and wide for its entertainment and media practices, which are bedazzled with client names along the likes of Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Jerry Seinfeld, and Gerard Butler (fun fact: Butler trained to be a lawyer in Scotland upon graduation). With such an impressive book of business, it’s hardly surprising that Chambers USA shines a spotlight on the firm’s media and entertainment litigation expertise. Here’s a quick taster of what the firm’s been up to recently: GG successfully defended pop-culture and sports media company Barstool Sports against allegations of defamation, fraud, and breach of contract filed by former employee Michael Rapaport (self-dubbed the ‘MVP of Talking Trash’). But that’s not all there is to this firm…
“… jack of several trades.”
Look beyond the bright lights of the firm’s entertainment expertise and you’ll find that GG picks up further Chambers USA accolades for its top-tier corporate/M&A work, as well as its bankruptcy/restructuring, environment, and real estate know-how. Meanwhile, over in Chambers High Net Worth, the firm is recognized for its private wealth work. It’s this variety that was much appreciated by our associate sources: “GG lets me be the jack of several trades.”
The firm’s small cohort is spread across its litigation, corporate, and estate planning groups, and where juniors wind up is down to a mix of preference and the firm’s business needs. In each group, work assignment typically flows through practice group leaders, “so one person can monitor capacities and keep things fairly distributed,” an associate explained. “It’s pretty well organized,” they added. For instance, when deal volume shattered records across the US in 2021, GG’s “coordinator spread the pain the best they could so no one felt hard done by.”
“There are a lot of high-net-worth individuals and the occasional celebrity client.”
GG’s litigation department gets down to all the nitty gritty behind the glitz and glamour of probates, contract work, and general litigation. Juniors can pick up work from sub-areas such as idea submissions, copyright disputes, intellectual property, and SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) in industries like music, film, TV, and esports. “There are a lot of high-net-worth individuals and the occasional celebrity client,” an insider detailed. Although some of the work carried out by the firm is national, associates explained the litigation work “is mostly regional and centered around LA.” From day one sources at the firm noticed that “you’re encouraged to take on tasks beyond doc review – there’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ element. If you’re interested in going to court or arguing motions, there’s a lot of space for that.”
Litigation clients: Barstool Sports, SKIMS, Riot Games. Represented NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, Jerry Seinfeld, and Stacey Snider against a copyright infringement lawsuit involving the ‘Bee Movie’.
On the transactional side, the corporate department tackles matters ranging from “straight M&A” to “outside general counsel work.” With no shortage of deals, “first years are doing due diligence and drafting disclosure schedules.” In terms of outside general counsel assignments, juniors found themselves “drafting written consent for shareholders and directors and helping with compliance issues.” Commenting on their experience, a junior explained: “I’m challenged without being thrown under the bus. Partners do a good job of giving out work that helps you learn and grow, rather than stuff that is beyond your capabilities.”
Corporate clients: Yamaha Guitar Group, Good American, Estate of Bob Marley. Acted as legal counsel for loungewear brand Skims Body, which was co-founded by Kim Kardashian and Jens & Emma Grede.
Fresh off the press: “This is my highlight. Our firm has an unlimited allowance of pro bono hours,” one interviewee proudly announced. “The firm is really good at encouraging us to spend time on these matters,” another added. Juniors can get involved in monthly small claims workshop clinics, domestic violence and sexual harassment cases, and matters involving rights for children with disabilities, which stem from a partnership with the Alliance for Children’s Rights that “the firm’s maintained for years.” For our sources, “handling adoptions” and “organizing complex case strategy” were particularly rewarding aspects of undertaking pro bono.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: undisclosed
- Average per US attorney: undisclosed
Junior sources enjoyed “the flexibility” that goes hand-in-hand with the firm’s smaller dimensions, which they felt boosted their career development. In particular, “we’ve started a series of regular trainings that the firm allocates a budget for,” an associate explained. These trainings happen four times a year at department level and are open to all attorneys who want to attend. “It encourages even the most junior associates to build their practice and market themselves.” The firm also allocates juniors a budget for lunches and networking events. And if you can think of it, it’s likely you can do it: “The firm encourages associates to come up with creative ways to network.”
Our sources also sang their praises for the firm’s mentorship program: “The pairings are very thoughtful!” Besides the formal set-up, “I’ve been able to get a lot of informal mentors,” one associate shared. “Personally, the partner I’ve worked with the most has really changed my life through mentorship,” they gushed.
GG’s single office model is central to its tight-knit culture: “Management knows everybody!” Ultimately, “we’re a group of people who like to be around each other,” interviewees explained, adding: “Obviously not everyone’s going to find people they click with, but when it works, it really does!” According to our sources, it’s the firm’s friendly feel that entices people to stay: “There are a lot of home-grown partners.”
Now that associates are back in the office, they’re determined not to rest on any laurels. A five-person associate committee organizes a bunch of social events. “We have lunches every Tuesday and Friday, and happy hours too! The firm is generous with that,” an insider explained. At the time of our interviews, associates were planning “a nice dinner, which the firm is happy to reimburse.”
“There are busy stretches, but I know that comparatively I have it pretty darn good here.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,750 target
GG’s relatively low (for BigLaw) hours target just got even lower. The firm recently reduced its billable target from 1,800 to 1,750 hours in order for associates to unlock bonuses. “People do sometimes get a bonus without hitting the target,” though. As a matter of fact, “any legal practice is challenging,” and our sources admitted that when push comes to shove, “there are busy stretches, but I know that comparatively I have it pretty darn good here.” During tougher periods, associates are supported with “check-in calls and little ‘thank you’ gifts here and there.” One insider was keen to highlight: “I rarely work weekends and the latest I finish in the evenings is 8 or 9pm.” Put quite simply, “there’s an understanding that we are human and come with limitations!”
On the salary front, “we’re a little below what the larger firms offer, but that’s reflective of our reduced billable target,” one junior explained. Compensation at the firm is lockstep, “except for the discretionary bonuses at the end of the year.” Generally, associates reported “no complaints with the lockstep salary, plus the bonuses are generous. I feel well compensated!” If there was a hint of frustration, it was directed towards the discretionary bonuses: “I do wish there was more transparency with bonuses.”
“The firm’s strategy is to remain a solo shop here in LA.”
Strategy & Future
The strategy and future front was where our associate sources were pleased to report a level of transparency. “The managing partner meets with associates every quarter to discuss firm updates, like hiring needs or finances,” sources explained. “The floor is also open to questions.” On the status of the firm, associates reported “nothing dramatic at the moment! The firm’s strategy is to remain a solo shop here in LA.”
Earlier this year, the firm announced its new partner class of three, who were spread across the litigation, trademark, and entertainment practices. When you take into account the firm’s average associate cohort of two to three per year, the chances of making partner are pretty good!
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sources agreed that DE&I is “an area we could improve on,” while recognizing the steps the firm is taking to increase representation. “Management is receptive to associates expressing that they want more attention in the space,” an insider explained. “They’re good at recognizing cultural and historic events.” The firm has a DE&I committee focused on running various initiatives which are supplemented by an allocated budget.
The firm is affiliated with a number of organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, such as the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Diversity Committee and the LACBA President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession. While associates are encouraged to get involved with the organizations, sources noted that they “would like to see a billable allowance for the DE&I initiatives.” Similarly, “it would be nice to see more diversity on the management committee.”
Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP
2049 Century Park East,
Main areas of work
Bankruptcy/insolvency, corporate, emerging technology and new media, employment, entertainment, environmental, intellectual property, litigation, private client services, real estate, and taxation
Founded over 60 years ago, Greenberg Glusker holds a unique position in Los Angeles as a full-service law firm, with particular expertise in bankruptcy/insolvency, corporate, employment, entertainment, environmental, intellectual property, litigation, private client services, real estate, and taxation. Committed to providing a wide range of services, we combine the personal attention of a boutique firm with the strength and breadth of services customarily found in a multioffice, international firm. Results-oriented client service is how we continue to distinguish ourselves today.
Law schools attended for OCI in 2023:
UC Davis, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and USC
Summer program components:
The main objective of our summer program is to provide the summer clerks with an honest and real experience of practicing law as a junior attorney at Greenberg Glusker. For purposes of the summer program, we divide the firm into three practice area subgroups. Each summer clerk will spend a minimum of three weeks in each practice subgroup. Typically, the subgroups are organized as follows:
• Real Estate/Environmental/Trusts & Estates
• Bankruptcy/Business & Tax/Intellectual Property
Our clerks will have the opportunity to attend trials, depositions and business meetings. Also, as a part of the summer program, we plan social events in order to facilitate multiple opportunities for the clerks to interact with each of our attorneys as much as possible. Our summer social calendar includes a mix of formal events such as concerts, sporting events, theater, and cooking classes, as well as informal happy hours and dinners.
Recruitment website: www.greenbergglusker.com/careers
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 3)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 3)
California: Los Angeles & Surrounds
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 4)