The value of having worked for the government is in understanding how it makes decisions, how it thinks about problems and where its interests lie.
Benjamin J. HorwichLitigation
One thing that is particularly important to understand about the government’s processes for making decisions is that the government involves literally dozens of offices with disparate − and sometimes conflicting − interests on a given matter. The value of having worked for the government is in understanding how it makes decisions, how it thinks about problems and where its interests lie.
Just a few weeks after I started at Munger Tolles, I represented a client in a case involving a citizen suit brought by an environmental organization for alleged contamination. The U.S. government expressed interest in weighing in on the case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That is exactly the sort of process that I would have managed in my previous role as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice. My understanding of the government’s decision-making process allowed me to identify the interested agencies, predict their perspectives on the issues, and advise our client on the most effective way to approach the key players.
Munger Tolles appreciates the value of the firsthand experience that its lawyers get in other pursuits. The firm was a natural fit for me because the government also tends to operate in very lean teams where attorneys have a lot of responsibility from the start. At the DOJ, I was privileged to work with some of the sharpest, most capable lawyers that the profession has to offer. I came to Munger Tolles because I wanted to go to a place like that − one where, without question, anyone that you work with is at the top of their game. I haven’t once been disappointed.
I can still vividly picture the great relief I felt that the justice system was able to deliver a solution for my client in a time of real crisis.
Carolyn Hoecker LuedtkeLitigation
One of my favorite things in my job is getting to know the client and their business, and then figuring out how we can use the court system to both protect their rights and to tell their story. It is particularly fun to tell the stories of my video game clients because we get to do it with graphics, images and gameplay videos, which helps us teach the court about the product. And I get to play the games as part of my research – an added bonus!
One of my most meaningful cases in this area was representing Vostu, the largest social gaming company in South America at the time. I visited their headquarters in Buenos Aires, met the employees, and saw what a great company they had built. They were sued by Zynga for copyright infringement in California and Brazil. The Brazilian court issued an injunction that would have essentially shut down the company.
We fought that, asking a federal judge to stop the Brazilian court from shutting the company down. On the eve of the injunction going into effect in Brazil, the judge granted our temporary restraining order, sparing the company and the jobs of all those people. I can still vividly picture the great relief I felt that the justice system was able to deliver a solution for my client in a time of real crisis.
I took great satisfaction from representing a company at their hardest time, facing one of the most difficult problems a company could face, and providing them relief through the court system.
I was drawn to Munger Tolles by the opportunity to work on cutting-edge, high-stakes cases with some of the best legal talent in the country.
E. Martin EstradaLitigation
One of the benefits of spending several years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office is that I was able to develop and litigate dozens of complex, criminal cases from investigation through charging, trial, and appeal. When you work the entire lifecycle of a case, you learn to approach cases strategically and you acquire invaluable experience identifying and avoiding pitfalls that can jeopardize your case. In government, you must consistently practice at a top level because the cases and the highly intelligent bench officers demand your best work.
I was drawn to Munger Tolles by the opportunity to work on cutting-edge, high-stakes cases with some of the best legal talent in the country. As a trial lawyer at Munger Tolles, I also have the chance to work on a wide variety of cases, from securities cases to contract disputes to entertainment litigation to environmental matters. In each new matter, you can learn a new industry and a new set of facts. That’s part of what makes the job fun.
As in government, Munger Tolles provides the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest attorneys in the country who act to solve the client’s problems in creative ways and push and support you to do the best work possible. If you’re interested in working on cutting-edge cases and doing so with some of the top legal minds in the country, this is the perfect place to be.
I went toe-to-toe with the lead trial lawyer on the other side, who’d been practicing law for 40 years.
Erin J. CoxLitigation
I joined the Wells Fargo trial team at the end of 2012. I’d been at the firm a little over two years—I was in my third year out of law school when the lead trial lawyer asked me if I would jump on the case.
The leaders of the trial team were very generous with opportunities. It was motivating to rise to the occasion and to fulfill those expectations. I worked closely on witness preparation, writing examination outlines, and constructing the closing. I sat at counsel table every day in court, took part in sidebars with the judge, argued motions. I went toe-to-toe with the lead trial lawyer on the other side, who’d been practicing law for 40 years. Our argument took the entire morning; I probably argued for about an hour and a half. That was my first oral argument.
After a seven-week jury trial, we won a unanimous defense verdict.
From very early on, I’ve been given the opportunity to be a thought partner on everything and have been involved in strategic decision-making. People use shorthand like “early responsibility,” but I think it’s more than that. I think that it’s an ethos, a culture of giving people as much responsibility as they’re capable of handling, and not having different echelons that limit the type of opportunities you’ll be offered just because you haven’t done something before. That leads to new challenges all the time, which is both rewarding and, I think, necessary for an associate to not just develop skills, but thrive.
The distinctly collaborative way we run the firm makes it clear that we are part of something bigger than just the work on our desks.
Karen A. LorangReal Estate & Corporate
One of the hallmarks of Munger Tolles’ culture is the expectation that every attorney will be meaningfully involved in the business and management of the firm. When you have an idea, you are encouraged to reach out to your colleagues, make a case for your proposal and work collaboratively to get it up and running. From our on-site day care center in Los Angeles to our Green Committee – programs that were launched by junior attorneys – attorneys are encouraged to step up from day one to shape Munger Tolles through active participation.
I have experienced this first-hand. I was part of the attorney-driven transformation of our MTO Fellows Program into a broader program aimed at preparing aspiring diverse students for admission to and success in law school. As a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, I was asked to reinvigorate the Minorities’ Initiative to focus on recruiting, retaining and supporting attorneys of color. On our Development and Retention Committee, I have watched and helped attorneys at all levels develop and run new training programs. As a member of the firm’s Policy Committee (during my second year at Munger Tolles), I was asked to weigh in on the most significant questions facing the firm.
The distinctly collaborative way we run the firm makes it clear that we are part of something bigger than just the work on our desks. Our committees offer attorneys the opportunity to get to know their colleagues across practice areas. They foster transparency by allowing all attorneys to be included in firm decisions – big and small. And by giving junior attorneys the chance to articulate a goal and then follow through on implementation, our committees provide huge growth opportunities that in turn benefit the entire firm.
I’ve had the opportunity to shape and execute case strategy from day one.
Bryan H. HeckenlivelyLitigation
My very first day at Munger Tolles, I was asked to work on a major class action arbitration with Malcolm Heinicke and Martin Bern. For two years, I ran the day-to-day operations on the case – I did everything from digging through the documents to traveling around the world to take depositions. When it was time to go to trial, I knew the client and the facts very well, so I had the opportunity to cross-examine more than a dozen witnesses, put on key direct examination witnesses and deliver part of the closing argument. After a three-month trial, we won the case.
This initial trial experience paved the way for me to serve as first chair, or lead counsel, defending the University of California in a highly publicized privacy lawsuit. With the full support of Brad Phillips, I worked on every stage of the case, from the motion to dismiss and summary judgment argument through mediation and depositions – ultimately representing the University at trial. During the process I also got to work with the press that covered every day of the trial.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to pull the case together and present it in a way that was digestible and persuasive to a jury. It was a great feeling to sit at counsel table during the plaintiff’s closing argument knowing I could respond to every point because I was so immersed in the case – and setting it all out for the jury during closing argument was so much fun! After less than an hour of deliberation, the jury ruled in our favor.
I feel very lucky to have had these opportunities as an associate. In law school, I was really involved in mock trial and knew trial work was something I wanted to do. In these cases, and many others, I’ve had the opportunity to shape and execute case strategy from day one – which is exactly why I came to Munger Tolles.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had so many opportunities in my first two years as an associate.
J’me K. ForrestLitigation
I joined Munger Tolles because I wanted to be a trial lawyer. The day after I finished orientation, I was asked to work on a case defending NBCUniversal and KNBC Los Angeles in a trial that was set to begin in a matter of weeks. During the one-month jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, I had the opportunity to draft several key examinations and help prepare the president and general manager of KNBC Los Angeles to testify. After almost a week of deliberations, the jury announced it was deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.
My next trial involved preventing the founder of an entertainment management company from being dissociated from a limited liability company. Munger Tolles took up this case just three weeks before trial against two of the most prominent trial lawyers in the entertainment industry. With the full support of Luis Li and Martin Estrada, I was able to conduct two direct examinations, work closely on developing case strategy, and handle an evidentiary argument before the court. After a two-month trial in Santa Monica Superior Court, we won a complete defense verdict.
I also worked on a multi-party environmental case concerning the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana. In that case, I routinely took depositions that were defended by lawyers 20 years my senior. Brad Brian and Bethany Kristovich have encouraged me to meaningfully contribute to the team since my first day on the case—from knowing the documents to mastering a complex set of facts to helping prepare our client’s senior vice president for trial.
Munger Tolles prides itself on giving associates hands-on experience that allows them to take charge of their careers with support and guidance from senior attorneys. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had so many opportunities in my first two years as an associate.
Many of the qualities instilled by the military – taking initiative and responsibility, demonstrating leadership – are highly valued at a firm like Munger Tolles.
Before attending law school, I served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, deploying twice to Afghanistan. Before joining Munger Tolles, I was a firm client, serving as plaintiff in a case challenging the U.S. Department of Defense policy barring women from serving in combat positions essential to career advancement.
Many of the qualities instilled by the military – taking initiative and responsibility, demonstrating leadership – are highly valued at a firm like Munger Tolles. Both environments encourage you to stretch outside your comfort zone, think confidently and deliver excellent results. In return, the firm delivers on its promise of offering junior attorneys meaningful experience and the opportunity to do substantive work early on. In fact, I am now a member of the legal team working on the women-in-combat lawsuit, and I had the opportunity to argue in court in that case during my first few months at the firm.
Having had careers in the military and investment banking prior to becoming a lawyer, it was important to me to join a firm where I could have agency and control over my professional development. At Munger Tolles, junior attorneys are given all the responsibility they can handle and empowered to work in the practice areas that interest them.
I also was drawn by the close-knit nature of the firm’s D.C. office, as well as the democratic culture, which gives attorneys a sense of ownership and belonging in the firm. Having the opportunity to work and collaborate with colleagues who are smart, kind and committed is delightful.