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How They Were Built

What does it take to start a law firm? What’s it like? Was it easier a few decades ago? What has changed? Where do the pitfalls lie? To try to answer some of these questions, Don Oppenheim, former law firm executive director and consultant to many California law firms, interviewed three founders or co-founders of leading Bay Area law firms, each now in the later stages of his career.

The three Bay Area firms: Gordon & Rees, which now has 550 attorneys spread nationally over 29 offices; Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson, one of California’s leading public agency practices with more than 80 attorneys, operating from five offices across the state; and Shartsis Friese has one office in San Francisco, with more than 50 attorneys. All started in the 1970 or ’80s. Each has become a solid institution in the Bay Area, but each has a very different operating model. Each is branded. Each is successful.

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