Daily Journal Extra - May 12, 2003
Tapping the Reservoir
It's a rare melding of teen domestic abuse, marriage for gay couples, Nazi
looting of family art and Anna Kournikova. That mix merely skims the surface
of this year's 20 under 40, our annual compilation of the top young atto
Here's Our Formula for Success:
Take 50,000 lawyers younger than 40, throw in remarkable accomplishments
throughout the early stages of their careers and narrow the field to 20. The
result is an incredibly skillful group of lawyers sure to make their mark on
the legal landscape, also known as our 20 under 40.
With our 11th annual selection of California's top young attorneys, the
editors and staff at Daily Journal EXTRA should have learned a few tricks to
make the whole process easier by now.
Jokes about pulling names from a hat aside, we should calculate a
mathematical equation: Plug in date of birth, book of business, practice
area, key victories and other noteworthy successes; divide by the square
root of lawyerly greatness; and spit out the names of 20 attorneys under 40
for inclusion on our list.
Instead, the collection of deserving lawyers grows each year, making our
picks all the more difficult and impressive.
This year's group includes attorneys who have developed novel legal
theories, a couple of political bigwigs and even a pair of corporate
attorneys who managed to make a buck during the downturn.
Bruno Katz wrote the book on defending military pilots against claims of
wrongdoing with the Judge Advocate General's Corps, while USC professor
David Cruz is working to extend First Amendment rights to same-sex couples
who wish to marry.
As chair of the judicial committee of La Raza Lawyers Association of
California, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Arriola
carries the voice of the Latino constituency to the bench. And Browne &
Woods partner Eric George has the ear of Gerald Parsky for recommending
federal judicial candidates.
Pillsbury Winthrop's Allison Leopold Tilley and Latham & Watkins' Tracy
Edmonson certainly break the mold. Both are women in the ultimate men's
world of law - corporate practice - and both have continued to excel despite
the slumping economy and their locations in tech-heavy Northern California.
In the public-interest arena, Judy London continues to fight for immigrants'
rights at a time of tightening border security and increasing federal limits
on immigration. Meredith Blake, meanwhile, chose to start her own
public-interest group, reaching out to young girls who are victims of
Add Hollywood - both talent and the studios - real estate, a top municipal
lawyer and a few others, and our lesson in mathematics is almost complete.
As you read about the 20 attorneys on the following pages, we're sure you'll
agree: It doesn't take a math whiz to calculate success for their futures.
E. Randol Schoenberg
Creating art is a big part of E. Randol Schoenberg's family history, a past
shaped largely by the cruelties of the Nazis.
So the Los Angeles attorney gets a special satisfaction from representing
the descendants of families who claim that the Third Reich looted their
"It's obviously just incredibly rewarding," Schoenberg, 36, says.
Both of his grandfathers, Austrian natives Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl,
are well-known music composers who fled Europe's gathering political storm
in the 1930s. They eventually settled in Los Angeles.
As a partner in the three-attorney firm Burris & Schoenberg, "Randy"
Schoenberg is making his own mark in two pending actions.
One case involves a 1922 Picasso, titled "Woman in White," which once
belonged to Thomas C. Bennigson's grandmother. The Nazis allegedly
confiscated the $10 million artwork from a Paris art dealer. A Chicago
collector purchased the piece and recently tried to sell the painting with
the help of a Los Angeles art dealer.
The other litigation seeks recovery of six Gustav Klimt paintings, worth
$150 million, that Maria Altmann contends were stolen from her family by the
Nazis and then transferred to the Austrian government.
For Schoenberg, who graduated USC Law School in 1991, the issues are clear.
"You can't get good title to stolen property," he says. "The original owner
is supposed to get it back."
While he gained notoriety through the art cases, Schoenberg says his sense
of justice motivates him in the business litigation he generally handles.
Last year, he succeeded in setting aside a 15-year-old default judgment
against a contractor sued by the developer of a Riverside apartment complex.
Schoenberg won by arguing that his client had not received proper notice of
the entry of judgment.
To opposing counsel David A. Ossentjuk, Schoenberg prevailed by stressing to
the judge the inequities of the situation, or as Ossentjuk says, "the warm
and fuzzy fairness as opposed to the cold dispassionate law."
"He was clearly the underdog in my case, and he did a good job," Ossentjuk
of Westlake Village's Jackson DeMarco & Peckenpaugh says.
Schoenberg's knack for the law may stem from his father, retired Los Angeles
Municipal Court Judge Ronald R. Schoenberg. But Randy Schoenberg admits that
his grandfathers' music genes didn't pass to him.
"I like to listen," he jokes.
- Eron Ben-Yehuda
© 2003 Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.