The San Diego Daily Transcript Named me a 2014 Top Attorney Finalist for Corporate Litigation in San Diego

Most of The Antitrust Attorney Blog entries focus on antitrust and competition law, which I suppose isn’t a surprise. But that hides the fact that I am a business litigator as well. While many of my matters relate to antitrust, some of them don’t.

So I thought this award would present a good opportunity for me to remind you that although I really enjoy antitrust, I can also help you with straight-up business disputes. This includes everything from basic breaches of contract to complex global disputes spanning several jurisdictions. It also includes, of course, appellate attorney work, which I write about from time-to-time.

In fact, my antitrust background gives me a leg-up in business and corporate litigation because I have spent years studying markets: I understand how companies compete in a market, which helps me to quickly grasp how an industry or company functions. This experience improves my ability to incorporate business considerations into my descriptions of various options for the client throughout the litigation process.

Many lawyers look at litigation as a game, to win at all costs, instead of understanding that litigation is just one of several tools to use—offensively or defensively—to develop a competitor’s position in the marketplace. It is important at every decision point to recognize that—unlike the litigator that probably works with a bunch of other competitive litigators that stress winning above all else—the client cares about the result relative to the cost.

Indeed, having my own business has further focused my sensitivity to the client’s perspective. I think I understand the client’s need to find someone that (1) they trust; (2) will pursue their goals, with the overall context of the business in mind; (3) will do great work. That may sound like the typical gobbledygook from a lawyer, but I think most businesses that have had to hire litigators will tell you that those three points are everything.

I started Bona Law PC in March 2014 and it is now August. Time flies. So far so good. I’ve been quite busy and I love the work. Even though people told me that I couldn’t do antitrust outside of a big firm, I have done a lot of antitrust. In fact, we are filing an Amicus Brief to the US Supreme Court this week in an antitrust case.

I will say this: I can’t even imagine anymore what it is like to work for a big law firm. The control and freedom that I have now to build my practice and run my matters is something that I don’t think I could ever give up. And the difference between living life as an employee at a large company and living life as an entrepreneur transcends the meaning of the phrase “career decision.” Starting my own practice was a great life decision.

Here are a couple of new developments at Bona Law PC:

  • Aaron Gott recently accepted my invitation to join our firm as our second Of Counsel. William Markham, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate and antitrust attorney, joined Bona Law PC as Of Counsel when we first starated. Aaron is also the Vice President and General Counsel for David’s Famous Gourmet Frozen Custard. Check out his blog. Aaron is an exceptional writer, who has already made a positive impact on the firm. Like me, he believes strongly in challenging government conduct.
  • I accepted an invitation from International Referral to be their California Antitrust and Competition member. This International group does what a lot of international law firms do—it organizes talented attorneys in practice areas and jurisdictions around the world. They make invitations and scrutinize an attorney’s credentials before accepting them into their membership. I am of the strong belief that the traditional law firm model is not the best business model for the future. It isn’t necessary nowadays for attorneys that work for a client to all be from the same firm, particularly when they are from different specialties and jurisdictions. The benefits to the clients are minimal. The big firms themselves benefit from the structure because they cross-sell. But the benefit to the clients probably isn’t worth the extra price that results from the huge fixed costs of running an international business.

My International Referral membership will allow me to, if I’d like, quickly find an attorney in another jurisdiction or specialty that can help one of my clients. There are a number of events and opportunities for the member attorneys to get to know each other and each other’s work. This is, in practice, similar to a large law firm, except the email signatures won’t match. In fact, it is better because when you are with a big firm and a client needs help in some far-away place, you are expected to refer the matter to that attorney, even if (1) you have no idea who they are (which is quite typical) and (2) you don’t know if they are any good. I can refer clients to International Referral members, but if for some reason I don’t feel comfortable with a particular member, there is no pressure for me to send a client their way.

Anyway, my antitrust and competition practice focus was global when I was at a large firm and this will give me an extra tool to develop the global aspect of my antitrust practice through Bona Law PC.

Finally, if you like this blog, please tell the ABA before August 8.

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