Take me down to Century City where the grass is Green(berg) and the clients are pretty.
“I’m in a small group, in a mid-sized law firm with BigLaw resources and offering a boutique feel. It’s unique in that sense.” This hit firm is known far and wide for its media offering and its star-studded client books which include the likes of Gerard Butler and Tom Cruise. As a taster of the type of cases the firm sees, it recently helped Star Wars and Knives Out director Rian Johnson in a civil suit brought by his former agent seeking commission from Johnson. It also recently defended Jerry Seinfeld and others in a lawsuit claiming that Bee Movie (2007) infringed copyright of a 1999 unproduced screenplay with a similar name. That one must have created a buzz around the office.
"We’re well respected in the community."
Hollywood A-listers aren’t the only stars at Greenberg Glusker. For their top work, Chambers USA recognizes the firm in LA for its expertise in highly regarded corporate/M&A work, and California-wide for its media & entertainment litigation, environment and bankruptcy/restructuring work. It’s also noted in Chambers High Net Worth for its private wealth law work in Southern California.
Greenberg Glusker is a firm where “everyone can get to know everyone. You’re not just an anonymous icon on an email.” Interviewees were open that “despite the fact that so many attorneys these days seem to jump firm to firm, I knew I wanted it to be possible to stay here my entire career.” They rated GG as a “a sustainable place with a realistic chance of being a partner. There are many equity partners who started as summer associates here.” More on career opportunities later…
Strategy & Future
Interviewees told us that the firm’s goal “is to remain a solo shop in Los Angeles.” Due to GG’s prowess, “there have been opportunities to merge into a larger firm – but the firm has no interest in that. They’re happy being this solo shop here. We’re well respected in the community and we’ve got our own little ship sailing down the waters here.” When it comes to growth, associates told us that the firm’s “taking on more people in each practice area, but it’s not crazy growth. We’re just keeping up with and adapting to the needs of the clients.”
The small junior cohort was placed across three of the firm’s nine departments: litigation, corporate, and estate planning. Department allocation is based on both the individual preferences of the incoming associate and the business needs of the firm.
“All kinds of companies and non-business clients such as entertainers and wealthy individuals.”
The firm’s litigationdepartment covers many sub-areas that juniors are able to grab work from as they wish. “It’s good for your career path to be able to select the work you love.” The team handles general commercial, probate, and contract work for “all kinds of companies and non-business clients such as entertainers and wealthy individuals.” Commercial work covers “all sorts, from construction matters to trade secret cases and employment disputes.” Probate work deals with trusts and estates work arising out of “high net worth families arguing with each other,” usually over inheritance issues. “There are so many little disputes in the space of entertainers and wealthy individuals that rise up here and there that you’d never think of – most of them end up settling outside of court.” Typical tasks for junior associates here include drafting motions, briefs and pleadings, as well as “lots of legal research and note writing.” Some can expect to argue motions and make court appearances: “You’re given a lot of leeway!”
Litigation clients: Hulu, Barstool Sports, Good American. Recently represented Costco Wholesale in a class action lawsuit alleging false advertising of Apple AirPods products.
Greenberg Glusker’s transactional-based estate planning team handles will planning, healthcare and estate administration for high net worth individuals and families. There’s also some tax and trusts work up for grabs. “As Greenberg is an entertainment firm, some clients that come through are very well known.” There are also CEOs and business owner clients who “have complex businesses that they need help with.” Working with high-profile entertainment and public eye clients was described as “the same as working for anyone else. It’s all the same, they just have more complex elements to them. But it’s the same in that I’m just helping them plan their futures for their families and make sure everyone is well situated.” Juniors in estate planning can expect to find “every day different.” Typical tasks include drafting waivers and transfer documents, administering estates following a death, and putting assets into trust. “You’re talking directly to clients, answering questions and getting a lot of responsibility as soon as you start!”
Estate planning clients: Assists multiple private families, entrepreneurs, and high-profile clients on matters of income tax and inheritance planning issues (largely confidential).
As GG is a small firm, associates were open that there’s “not really a structured training program.” Instead, juniors are given the opportunity to “do observations but count it as billable – which is super helpful.” Partners were described as “angels” who “put hundreds of hours into training us and talking about our career paths.” Unanimously interviewees felt that “partners are supporting in long-term careers,” and that the firm “really wants people to stick around for their whole career.” One junior exemplified this when, as a summer, “we were invited to the annual holiday party and they announced their new partners. As they gave speeches, I was surprised by the number of new partners that started as summers.” As not many juniors are taken on, Greenberg Glusker “aren’t churning us out. The goal when they hire us is that they’re hoping one day they’ll be calling you ‘partner’.”
“Pro bono has given me some of the most substantive opportunities I’ve had and gives me skills I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to understand at this level,” one interviewee reflected. Greenberg Glusker is “very involved” in pro bono, helping out in areas such as a monthly small claims workshop clinic, domestic violence and sexual harassment cases, rights for children with disabilities and a partnership with the Alliance for Children’s Rights “handling adoption matters.” The latter is extremely popular, with interviewees telling us: “It’s very rewarding helping bring a family together.” We heard that partners are “very tolerant – of course if there’s a client deadline and they need you to meet it, but pro bono is still a priority.”
Greenberg Glusker has an unlimited pro bono policy where attorneys can bill as many pro bono hours as they like. Each month, an overall hours total is circulated around the firm with billable and non-billable hours – “pro bono hours are reflected as billable. If you looked at anyone, you wouldn’t be able to tell what was billable and what was pro bono. It takes away any stigma anybody might feel for doing ‘too much’ pro bono work.”
Pro bono hours
- For all attorneys: Undisclosed
- Average per attorney: Undisclosed
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 1,800 requirement
Greenberg’s relatively low (for BigLaw) hours target is “extremely reasonable.” Especially for those at the junior end of their career, the firm “doesn’t put pressure on hours – they want you to hone your craft. It’s about quality over quantity.” Actual hours “vary by department.” For example, those in litigation can expect to do 1,500 to 1,800, whereas we heard that in transactional groups the figure is closer to 2,000. “But that’s just temporary,” one chimed in, “they’re hiring more people to bring hours down for everyone as the goal is for us to have more of a work/life balance.” Generally, working when the going isn’t tough is “finishing at 6pm and not working weekends.” No out-of-hours calls and an expectation to “not answer emails in the evenings” means GG juniors felt they could “completely switch off” in their downtime.
The firm recently upped salaries by $20k, with a first-year salary going from $170,000 to $190,000.“It moves us more in line with the BigLaw scale.” However, some felt the jump “isn’t too significant – which is good news for me as the hours trade-off is preferable.” Overall, interviewees felt their compensation is “extremely fair for the hours I work – I’m very happy with it.”
“They’ve done an excellent job of keeping morale high.”
Interviewees told us those who fit in at Greenberg Glusker are “people who are sharp, personable, thoughtful and caring.” Unanimously we heard that “people know who you are, care about you and value your time inside and outside the office.” There is a focus on togetherness, which came in handy during the height of the pandemic: “They’ve done an excellent job of keeping morale high.” Folks at GG went to remote trivia nights, happy hours, mental wellness events, and holiday parties such as a “Halloween chocolate and beer pairing event – it was fun!” Associates enjoyed each other’s company, finding they even “stay behind after meetings to catch up and grab lunch – things like that.”
At the time of interviews, GG had suggested attorneys return to the office for two days a week. “I really missed that experience of being in the office,” admitted one source. The firm moved digs in Century City three weeks before lockdown – “we’d been at the former location for 50 years!” Now attorneys can finally enjoy the “beautiful new offices,” taking up three floors of a tower with “plenty of natural light, unlimited snacks and kombucha on tap.” Century City was dubbed an “awesome, fast-paced, exciting place to work. We can see the Hollywood sign from our new office. It’s very distant but it makes you feel part of something big. It’s a great feeling.”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
According to juniors, the firm is “taking very substantive steps” in the D&I space. As the firm is small, there’s “less red tape and a lot of opportunity to communicate about things effectively. The size is uniquely positioned to make quick improvements in this area.” However, it also means “it can be hard for them to compete with large firms – we have no big diversity scholarship or signing bonuses.” We heard a lot about the level of women in partnership, with associates telling us it’s “rewarding to have female mentors who are open about their experience in this space, like a family and how to make it.”
In terms of the firm’s actions, it puts out monthly newsletters where “somebody talks about their heritage,” and holds events including celebratory days for Native American heritage month and LGBTQ+ pride month. Both associate and diversity committees give people at all levels “access to communication on this.” Overall, diversity and inclusion is “a very high priority for the firm. It’s constantly something they’re trying to improve as much as they can.”
Mental health is a focus at Greenberg Glusker too, with resources such as meditation and self-reflection Zoom events to “jump into every few weeks.” What was once in-person exercise events are now “weekly virtual workouts to help us feel good inside and outside.” The firm recently assigned extra days off for “mental health and family time, which is very thoughtful and nice.”
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed
Greenberg Glusker’s California presence is clear in the schools it typically attends for OCIs: UCLA, USC, Berkeley, Stanford and UC Davis. The firm singles out UCLA and USC as its “key feeder schools.” But this shouldn’t put off any out-of-state hopefuls as the firm is also open to impressive resumes that it receives outside of the OCI process.
Interviews are conducted by both partners and associates, and the firm prefers to send alumni of the school in question to do the interview. Associates told us that “what’s most important to Greenberg Glusker is to choose someone who will be enjoyable to work with – a positive contributor.” The candidates the firm sees at OCI will most likely tick all the essential boxes with their resumes, but will they be able to hold a more off-the-cuff conversation? “I was extremely nervous going in, but we spent the duration of the interview talking about fantasy football!” one associate recalled. “It was clear that they were seeing whether I’d be a good fit for the firm.”
Top tips for this stage:
“The main aim at OCIs is to get a feel of whether the student will fit well with the firm.” –a second-year junior associate
“Lack of energy/spark is one of the most common reasons we hear for not bringing in a candidate for a callback.”– hiring partner Aaron Gafni
Callback interviews consist of 20-minute interviews with six attorneys (a mix of partners and associates from different departments), as well as a meal with two more attorneys. One associate recalled being impressed by the variety of the interview panel: “There were older partners and younger associates, and men and women from different practice areas.” Hiring partner Aaron Gafni tells us: “We use the interview process more to get to know the candidate’s personality, and less to drill down on the candidate’s legal knowledge, capabilities or experience.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Bring energy and show enthusiasm for the firm.”– hiring partner Aaron Gafni
The firm’s ten-week summer program is divided into three rotations that cover all the firm’s practice areas. Two designated work coordinators are on hand in each rotation to assign pieces of work to the summer associates. Gafni says that “attorneys often bring summer associates to court hearings, depositions, meetings and conferences.” There are also weekly social events. Past highlights include Hollywood Bowl concerts, Dugout Club at the Dodger game and a karaoke night – Gafni says: “Summer associates arestrongly encouraged to sing.” Of course, it goes without saying that summers should “always remain professional.”
The firm tells us most of the summers return as full-time associates. Practice area assignment is based on associates’ preferences and the business needs of the firm, and associates felt “they do their best to accommodate your preference.”
Top tips for this stage:
“Ask tons of questions before diving into a project, and double and triple-check your work before turning it in.” – hiring partner Aaron Gafni
Number of laterals: undisclosed
In a “typical year,” Gafni says, Greenberg Glusker hires around 50% of its annual associate appointments through lateral hires. Most of these hires comes “from larger, national law firms” and laterals are targeted on the basis of “need.” Gafni says the firm “generally looks for mid-level associates” when looking for lateral hires and is “currently looking to hire associates in transactional departments, including corporate, real estate, IP/tech transactions, entertainment and employment.”
Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP
2049 Century Park East,
- Head office: Los Angeles, CA
- Number of domestic offices: 1
- Partners US: 72
- Associates US: 29
- Main recruitment contact: Aaron Gafni (email@example.com)
- Hiring partner: Aaron Gafni
- Diversity officer: Brian Moskal
- Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 3
- Clerking policy: No
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 2Ls: 3
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022 split by office: Los Angeles: 3
- Summer salary 2022: 1Ls: $ 3,654/week 2Ls: $3,654/week
- Split summers offered? Yes
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 2021:
UC Davis, UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, and Stanford
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, 2022
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 4)
- Environment (Band 4)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 3)
California: Los Angeles & Surrounds
- Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
- Real Estate (Band 4)