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Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

At a Glance

Uppers

“Not a lot of big egos.”

“Amazing array of substantive opportunities for young attorneys.”

Downers

“The lack of a higher upside for above market hours (when you work them).”

“Low leverage can mean that matters are understaffed.”

About Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Munger, Tolles & Olson is a SoCal elite, with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm is best known for its litigation chops, and through its highly selective recruiting process, draws in a high number of clerks. 

Cali Firm with Cornhusker Friends

Munger Tolles was founded in 1962 by seven partners, including Charles Munger and Edwin Leroy Tolles. Munger departed after three years, but this proved to work in the firm’s interests. A close friend of investor Warren Buffett, Munger went on to become vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which in turn became a long-time Munger Tolles client. 

Tolles passed away in 2008, leaving Ronald L. Olson as the last name partner still in active practice at the firm. Olson, who joined in 1968, is also connected to Berkshire Hathaway (he’s a director of the company) and served as Founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southern California Public Radio. For many years, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (which happens to be owned by one Charles Munger) has named Olson one of California’s most influential lawyers, acknowledging his work for clients like Yahoo!, the J. Paul Getty Trust, Shell Oil, Michael Ovitz, and the late Paramount chair Brad Grey.

Winning on Pacific Time

Proving that the West Coast can be the best coast, Munger Tolles made headlines in 2008 when The American Lawyer placed it atop the magazine’s “A-List.” It was the first time the honor had gone to a firm outside New York, but not the last: Munger Tolles placed No. 1 on the Am Law A-List seven more times, most recently in 2022. Today, Munger Tolles operates nine general practice areas with numerous subspecialties, with growing strength in criminal investigations and defense, as well as appellate work. Niche practices include tax and bankruptcy. The firm counts among its clients some of California’s largest companies (think entertainment, energy, and retail), national corporations, large universities, leading Wall Street banks, foreign government agencies, and international corporations.

Own It

Munger Tolles is atypical in that it promotes an “ownership mentality” among its ranks. In adherence to this culture, partners all weigh in on the pay of their fellow partners, and all attorneys have input into the recruiting process, review the firm’s financial books, and participate in all important firm decisions. A highly selective firm in terms of both hiring and its acceptance of cases, Munger Tolles has historically rewarded those who make it through the hiring gauntlet with an accelerated path to partner: The average associate can be considered for the partnership after six to nine years at the firm. While the firm keeps its ranks lean, it prides itself on the diversity of talent within its doors—clients who hire Munger Tolles may find themselves with lawyers who hold graduate degrees in history, literature, medicine, economics, or physics.

News & Awards

NOTABLE CASES
  • Advised Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in its agreement to purchase Alleghany Corp. for $11.6 billion in cash
  • Won a $15 million jury verdict on behalf of Vanessa Bryant in her trial regarding the inappropriate sharing of photos from the scene of the helicopter crash that tragically killed her husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant. 
  • Represented Lyft, Inc. in multiple actions regarding the classification of rideshare drivers and the enforcement of arbitration provisions, including in the Superior Court of California, California Court of Appeal, and the First, Second, and Ninth Circuits. 
  • Represented PG&E in a historic settlement with six Northern California counties impacted by the 2019 Kincade Fire and 2021 Dixie Fire.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
  • No.1 on the A-List, 2022—The American Lawyer
  • Three Top Verdict Awards, 2022—Daily Journal
  • Three California Lawyer of the Year Awards, 2023—Daily Journal
  • Mansfield Certification Plus, 2022—Diversity Lab
  • Best Places to Work For LGBTQ+ Equality, 2022—Human Rights Campaign Foundation
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

350 South Grand Ave.
50th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: (213) 683-9100

Firm Stats

Chair: Brad Brian
Hiring Attorneys: Wesley Burrell, Bryan Heckenlively, and Laura Smolowe
Managing Partners: Hailyn Chen and Malcolm Heinicke
Total No. Attorneys (2023):
150 - 250
No. of Partners Named 2023:
3

Base Salary

Base Salary (2024) 1st Year:  $225,000 2nd Year:  $235,000 3rd Year:  $260,000 4th Year:  $310,000 5th Year:  $365,000 6th Year:  $390,000 7th Year:  $420,000 8th Year:  $435,000 Summer Associate: $4,327/week

Employment Contact

Kevinn C. Villard
Director of Legal Recruiting
(213) 683-9242
kevinn.villard@mto.com

No. of U.S. Offices: 3

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

Los Angeles, CA (HQ)
San Francisco, CA
Washington, DC

Major Departments

Corporate
Environmental
Financial Restructuring
Labor & Employment
Litigation
Real Estate
Tax
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.