Growth at Stoel Rives
Stoel has grown from an office in Portland, Oregon, which still serves as its headquarters, to the 11 offices it has today. Matt Moscon has chaired the firmwide litigation practice group at Stoel Rives for the past seven years. “We are a fullservice firm handling most areas of practice other than family law,” he says. The firm is also a member of The American Lawyer’s Am Law 200, which means it is ranked as one of the top 200 firms internationally. It has also received numerous awards and accolades. Moscon is particularly happy that his Salt Lake City litigation group recently achieved a Band 1 ranking by Chambers and Partners. Moscon sees this as a happy conclusion to his tenure as a practice group leader. “Before the end of the year, I’ll pass the reins to another attorney in our Portland office,” he says. “It’s healthy for a firm to rotate management roles, and it’s important to give opportunities to younger lawyers.” Moscon will then focus on building the firm’s energy litigation practice, though he will continue to have a general commercial practice as well.
Yet even with such a solid, local team, Stoel will staff cases with the best lawyer, irrespective of geography. “We always put our best players on the field,” Moscon states. “If we have a case that comes to us in Salt Lake City, we don’t automatically work with someone down the hall. If we have colleagues in our San Francisco or Seattle office who have the expertise that’s needed, then we work cross-office.”
Bringing New Attorneys Into the Fold Grooming the up-and-coming class of associates for long-term success is an integral part of Stoel culture. Each associate is matched with a mentor and a partner coach to help them understand the nuances and challenges of legal practice. Experienced associates such as Jose Abarca, Landon Allred, Lauren Hosler and Chad Pugh lead the charge among the younger litigators and serve as role models to summer associates such as Joy Kalumbi. “We make every effort to see that associates are invited to meetings, hearings, closings, depositions and trials,” says Moscon. “And summer associates are given challenging legal work, plus social and professional opportunities to interact with other attorneys. After a summer in one of our offices they should have a true sense of what life is like for Stoel Rives associates.”
This year, Stoel Rives is welcoming back attorney David Jordan after a three-year leave of absence. “For years he was an anchor of our litigation department,” explains Moscon. “He left at the height of his practice to serve as a mission president for the LDS church in London. He just returned and we’re very excited to have him back.” Moscon admits that he was nervous when Jordan left, because Moscon felt pressure to make sure young lawyers wouldn’t lose out on work assignments that Jordan’s practice provided. Fortunately, several of the younger partners such as David Mortensen, Tim Conde, Cameron Sabin, Marc Rasich and others rose to the occasion. In addition to his substantial commercial practice, Jordan will now focus on mediations and arbitrations. Stoel is also pleased that Vaughn Pedersen, Michael Menssen, Kim Hammond and Andrew Wojciechowski have joined the team recently to add depth of practice.
Later this year, Stoel Rives will also welcome back litigator Monica Call as she returns from parental leave. “She’s an integral part of our trial group,” states Moscon. “We invest a lot in finding and training our attorneys, and our clients invest in relationships with them, so we want our lawyers to stay at Stoel and balance their professional life with a rich family life.” Moscon points out that reduced-hour and flexible-time policies have helped the firm support working parents and assist with their transition back to practice. “One of our finest partners, Jill Pohlman, wouldn’t be with us if we didn’t allow this type of flex-time arrangement.”
The Stoel Rives Difference
Although there have been several name changes since the firm’s founding more than 100 years ago, the commitment to its clients hasn’t changed, and the litigation group continues to welcome challenging cases.
As practice group leader, Moscon has been able to observe litigation practices across the country. “The level of litigation practice in Salt Lake City is extremely sophisticated, particularly considering the size of our market,” he notes. “Our peer firms in Salt Lake have some tremendously talented lawyers.” That said, he believes one thing that sets Stoel Rives apart is the depth of its bench. “Not only is our practice recognized in Band 1 by Chambers, but David Jordan, Ken Black, John Anderson and I are individually ranked by that organization as well. We also have a number of extremely talented young partners who have received many accolades in their own right – Justin Palmer is a great example. That depth of practice is hard to beat in this market.” He also is quick to praise colleagues such as DJ Williams, a construction and products litigator, for heading up Stoel’s pro bono initiative, and Matt Durham, a labor and employment litigator, for his leadership on the firm’s diversity committee.
Asked about aspects of group leadership he has enjoyed most, Moscon doesn’t hesitate. “Watching our young partners and associates develop their practices, without a doubt,” he states. “We’ve devoted a lot of energy toward hiring the best, and it is paying off. We have a very talented group of young lawyers. Take our newest partner, Lauren Shurman, for instance. She has skills well beyond where mine were at that stage of practice.”
When asked about what has led to his own success, Moscon is quick to acknowledge his colleagues. “I have an extremely complicated case that is currently being litigated in nine different lawsuits, in multiple jurisdictions. Partner Mark Hindley’s skill in organizing a case that complicated has been invaluable.” He acknowledges even more gratitude to the litigators who came before him. “I’ve been able to learn from the best. Ken Black, David Jordan and John Anderson are as good as it gets. Any skill I brought was far outweighed by the unique opportunity to learn from these lawyers. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that John has single-handedly made me the curmudgeon I am today.”