2021 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#18
At a Glance
“Everyone is collegial, and it is truly a team atmosphere [with] little hierarchy.”
“Lots of autonomy.”
“The quality of the work and the value the firm places on its associates.”
“We're a small shop with big matters—that can make for some busy times.”
“Very little formal training.”
About Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
One of SoCal’s elites, Munger, Tolles & Olson has only recently expanded beyond the Golden State. The firm is best known for its litigation chops, and through its highly selective recruiting process, draws in a high number of clerks.
Cali Firm with Cornhusker Friends
Munger Tolles was founded in 1962 by seven partners, including Charles Munger and Edwin Leroy Tolles. Munger departed after three years, but this proved to work in the firm’s interests. A close friend of investor Warren Buffett, Munger went on to become vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which in turn became a long-time Munger Tolles client.
Tolles passed away in 2008, leaving Ronald L. Olson as the last name partner still in active practice at the firm. Olson, who joined in 1968, is also connected to Berkshire Hathaway (he’s a director of the company) and served as Founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern California Public Radio. For many years, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (which happens to be owned by one Charles Munger) has named Olson one of California’s most influential lawyers, acknowledging his work for clients like Yahoo!, the J. Paul Getty Trust, Shell Oil, Michael Ovitz, and the late Paramount chair Brad Grey.
Winning on Pacific Time
Proving that the West Coast can be the best coast, Munger Tolles made headlines in 2008 when The American Lawyer placed it atop the magazine’s “A-List.” It was the first time the honor had gone to a firm outside New York, but not the last: Munger Tolles placed No. 1 on the Am Law A-List five more times, most recently in 2019. Today Munger Tolles operates over a half-dozen practice areas, with growing strength in criminal investigations and defense, as well as appellate work. Niche practices include tax and bankruptcy. The firm counts among its clients some of California’s largest companies (think entertainment, energy, and retail), national corporations, large universities, foreign government agencies, and international corporations.
Aside from its reluctance to expand geographically, Munger Tolles is atypical in that it promotes an “ownership mentality” among its ranks. In adherence to this culture, partners all weigh in on the pay of their fellow partners, and all attorneys may vote on all job candidates, review the firm’s financial books, and participate in all important firm decisions. A highly selective firm in terms of both hiring and its acceptance of cases, Munger Tolles has historically rewarded those who make it through the hiring gauntlet with an accelerated path to partner: The average associate can be considered for the partnership within five to seven years at the firm. While the firm keeps its ranks lean, it prides itself on the diversity of talent within its doors—clients who hire Munger Tolles may find themselves with lawyers who hold graduate degrees in history, literature, medicine, economics, or physics.
News & Awards
Munger, Tolles & Olson was named to National Law Journal’s Pro Bono Hot List for the third consecutive time on May 1. The firm was one of 16 U.S. law firms to be included in the report, which served as a precursor to the firm’s 2020 AmLaw #1 A-list Ranking announced on July 24, which is based on pro bono work as well as high associate satisfaction and strides within diversity and inclusion.
Munger, Tolles & Olson announced two new additions to its partnership in 2019. On September 10, John W. Berry, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission senior official, joined as a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Then, on October 1, former federal prosecutor Robyn Bacon returned to Munger, Tolles & Olson to continue her work leading major trials and investigations.
Munger, Tolles & Olson announced that all attorneys, managers, and employees will be eligible for up to 18 weeks of paid leave effective September 1, 2019. This revised policy aligns the employee benefits with attorney benefits and significantly extends the available paid leave for medical and family care, as well as parental leaves. Parents giving birth are eligible for an additional six to eight weeks of paid disability leave. Am Law also recognized Munger Tolles for its parental leave in January 2019, prior to this launch.
Munger, Tolles & Olson announced on March 6, 2019 that the firm has elected Malcolm A. Heinicke and Hailyn J. Chen, who both began their legal careers as summer associates at the firm, to serve as co-managing partners. As part of the leadership transition, Brad D. Brian, a co-managing partner from 2015-2018, assumed a newly created position of chair. Munger Tolles also mourned a tremendous loss with the passing of Co-Managing Partner Sandra Seville-Jones on March 11, 2019.
- Represented Facebook when it was sued by the Russian Federal Agency of News for removing its account, which allegedly played a role in misinformation campaigns during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.
- Represented Hollywood studios in winning a copyright lawsuit against VidAngel, resulting in the largest jury award ever in a mass infringement copyright case.
- Represented J. Paul Getty Trust in acquiring the priceless photographic archive of Ebony and Jet magazines at auction, preserving decades of African American history.
- Represented MGM Resorts in obtaining a favorable settlement resolving claims stemming from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
- Top 100 Verdicts List, 2019—The National Law Journal
- No. 1 on A-List, 2020—The American Lawyer
- 100 percent Corporate Equality Index, 2019—Human Rights Campaign Foundation
- Appellate Firm of the Year, 2019—Chambers USA
- Mansfield Certification Plus Status, 2019—Diversity Lab
350 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: (213) 683-9100
Managing Partners: Hailyn Chen & Malcolm Heineke
Hiring Attorneys: Robyn Bacon, Margaret Maraschino, and Adam Weiss
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
150 - 250
No. of Partners Named 2020:
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer Associate: $3,654/week
Kevinn C. Villard
Director of Legal Recruiting
No. of U.S. Offices: 3
No. of International Offices: 0
Los Angeles, CA (HQ)
San Francisco, CA
Labor & Employment
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.