California Rainmaker Rises To Leadership Post at Munger Tolles

May 13, 2015, 6:48 PM

Munger Tolles & Olson announced on Wednesday that Brad Brian will serve as Co-Managing Partner, effective immediately. He will work alongside Sandra A. Seville-Jones, 54, who had been the sole managing partner for five years.

Brian, 63, who said he has consistently logged at least the second-highest number of billable hours at the firm, will continue practicing and simply add the managerial role to his responsibilities, leveraging his trial experience defending companies in civil and criminal proceedings to bring in new business.

Yet he will also have a new focus: “It’s to maintain what I think makes this place special, and to make sure we grow the next generation of leaders in the firm,” Brian said in an interview.

His past clients have included Transocean, Ltd., which faced pollution claims arising from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Brian explained that when he handles trials, he likes to get others involved by cross-examining witnesses and taking key depositions, and he’d like to bring that same management style to his role as co-managing partner, tapping new leaders to take on business initiatives like promoting diversity and supervising the professional development of lawyers.

“I have always allowed other lawyers to play major roles at trial... I am going to come in, and use that model at the firm,” he said.

The decision to place Brian into the leadership post was the result of a months-long interview process led by an 11-member managing partner committee, which spoke with every lawyer at the firm, as well as a number of staff members to gauge their feelings about who should lead the firm going forward.

“I had been thinking about it for the last year or so as something that I might want to do, but it’s not something that I campaigned for,” said Brian.

Seville-Jones has served as managing partner for six years and is known as an advocate for diversity in the legal profession. With clients including Oaktree Capital Management and Universal Music Group, her practice focuses on advising companies in corporate, business and securities law.

Although Seville-Jones was not available for comment, Brian stressed the transition is amicable. “We met the other day for a couple hours. We are very good friends. We will divide things up so we don’t duplicate each other. I have always been a sounding board for Sandra, so that isn’t going to change.”

Brian joined Munger Tolles more than 33 years ago, after a clerkship with a federal appeals court judge and a brief stint as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles kickstarted his career. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Brian has made a name for himself as a tireless litigator.

“It will probably be more emails from different people,” said Brian of his new role. “Instead of getting up at 5 a.m., I’ll get up at 4:30 a.m.”

(UPDATED: This article has been updated to clarify Brian’s comment about his productivity, which referred to the number of hours he billed.)

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