Source: Pacific Coast Business Times.
The founding named partners took a plunge after building careers at larger full-service firms by starting their own boutique focused on employment law, intellectual property and litigation in May 2011. Earlier this year, the firm finally outgrew its initial offices and moved to a new space in Camarillo to accommodate new faces.
“We opened with, at the time, five attorneys and 287 clients and two paralegals,” Gabler told the Business Times. “We now have eight attorneys, four paralegals, and we’re over 900 clients. It’s been wild and a blast, and we’re thrilled it’s gone this well.”
Light and Gabler’s move in 2011 was the first salvo in what turned out to be a significant realignment of professionals amount Ventura County’s top law firms. In the end, eight attorneys decamped from Nordman Cormany, then the region’s biggest firm with 34 attorneys. Ferguson Case Orr Paterson became the region’s largest firm with 30 attorneys by summer’s end.
In September of that year, Procter Slaughter & Reagan, which was previously the fifth-largest law firm in the Tri-Counties with 18 attorneys, became two firms: Slaughter & Reagan, which stayed in Ventura, and Wisotsky, Procter and Shyer, which is based in Oxnard. And in 2012, Louis Klein and Dan Friedlander, formerly with Jackson DeMarco Tidus and Peckenpaugh, strike out to start a new Westlake Village firm, Klein Friedlander.
At LightGabler, about two-thirds of the firm’s client base comes from its traditional stronghold between Santa Barbara and the San Fernando Valley. Gabler credits the growth to the firm’s team-oriented approach to client service. For the business owner, employment law questions usually come up at a bad time — like when an employee has stormed of threatening to sue or violated workplace rules in a big way — and so the firm tries to make sure it gives a quick response. “We always have somebody available to assist even if the ‘usual’ attorney is tied up at the moment,” Gabler said.
Gabler said the team approach also applies inside the firm. “It’s really a core piece of what we had in mind,” she said. “We’re very focused on supporting our people and insisting that everybody work cooperatively and back each other up.”
In fact, the firm has become known as the “fuzzy slippers firm” because the partners are lenient on footwear if it helps productivity and teamwork. “We gave everybody novelty slippers at our holiday party,” Gabler said.
Gabler said that despite the firm’s growth, it has no plans to add practice groups or merge. “We’ve been approached by other firms with offers to merge or join other practice groups, but we haven’t wanted to do that,” Gabler said. “We have found there to be a tremendous amount of collaboration with other lawyers in the community. We’ve done a tremendous amount of referrals now that we can look around and see who’s there.”