Robin Meadow finds that lawyers he meets are astonished when he tells them that his Los Angeles firm Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland has 22 attorneys, all of whom are appellate specialists. "Once you leave D.C.," Meadow said, "firms tend to have one or two appellate lawyers at most."
There is strength in numbers when it comes to appellate work, partner Kent Richland said. The firm can gather a group of appellate lawyers in one room to discuss the abstract legal theories and strategies that often are essential to winning at the appellate level. "One person by himself or herself doesn’t give you the same horsepower," he said.
The firm’s horsepower has carried it to six wins in six years before the U.S. Supreme Court, an enviable record for any firm, inside or outside the Capital Beltway. Greines Martin lawyers are also active before the California Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere.
Its January U.S. Supreme Court victory in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council was typical. As it often does, the firm represented a government agency challenging a ruling by the Ninth Circuit — an enticing invitation for a Supreme Court that seems eager to reverse the Ninth. But the firm may be best known for Richland’s 2006 U.S. Supreme Court victory on behalf of actress Anna Nicole Smith in the probate and bankruptcy case Marshall v. Marshall.
That suggests the range of legal areas the firm handles. "What defines us is the variety of our work," said Meadow.
A recent win before the Ninth Circuit came in entertainment law. The court last December affirmed a $319 million verdict for Meadow’s client Celador International Ltd. in a dispute with The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC subsidiary over profits from licensing the game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
At the California Supreme Court, Richland is part of the legal team representing Stephen Glass, the disgraced former journalist, in his effort to win admission to the State Bar of California. The Committee of Bar Examiners ruled he was not sufficiently rehabilitated. It has not yet been scheduled for argument.
By tradition, whenever the firm wins a case, a neon sign in the firm’s library that flashes the word "Appeals" is turned on. By Richland’s count, the sign has been lit 15 times in the last year — with more, presumably, yet to come.