After spending over three decades in Am Law 100 firms, commercial litigator and trial lawyer Rick Richmond joined Larson LLP in the summer of 2021 with a new career goal. He shares why he made the move, what he’s looking for in the next step in his career, and how he sees Larson LLP to be the best fit for his practice.
You built a successful career at two large law firms. What influenced you to move to a boutique?
I’ve spent almost all of my career in Big Law. I founded the Los Angeles office of one and served as its managing partner for nearly a decade. Under my leadership, that office grew from just two lawyers to 57 lawyers at the time I transitioned away from the managing partner position. I really enjoyed the experience of founding and growing an office, and I have nothing but respect for my former colleagues, but it was time for a new challenge. I am not interested in coasting along to an eventual retirement in a big law firm—I’m eager to devote all of my time and attention to trying cases.
I love the courtroom and I want to be there as much as possible. I want to try cases of all kinds and I want to work with lawyers who do that too. I want to spend all of my time with lawyers who have experience working on a full range of complex litigation matters and who can take on any piece of litigation anywhere. It’s because of this desire to be intensely focused that I looked toward moving to a boutique. A litigation boutique is more specialized and it provides me with the opportunity to immerse myself in what I am most passionate about—high-stakes trial work.
What drew you to Larson LLP?
I’ve been friends with the founders of Larson LLP for a very long time and with some of the other partners as well. I have been referring cases to these friends for years and vice versa. We were discussing the possibility of collaborating on a recent representation and the conversation started flowing about joining forces more generally. It got me thinking—Larson LLP is strictly a trial firm. These lawyers are not afraid to take cases to court—in fact, they usually do go to court and they almost always win. Collectively, the 30 lawyers at Larson LLP have more courtroom experience than most litigation departments at Am Law 100 firms.
I was a partner at a highly regarded large law firm, so if I was going to make the move, it had to be to a firm with the proven experience and reputation of Larson LLP. It’s not a full-service firm and it’s not a niche firm. It’s a results-oriented boutique committed to success in the courtroom. In my view, Larson LLP is the best litigation boutique in Southern California. My new colleagues have such a wealth of trial experience—Stephen Larson’s reputation precedes him as a former U.S. District Judge and one of the foremost trial lawyers in the country. The partners, counsel, and associates have served as arbitrators and special masters, federal and state prosecutors, federal public defenders, and law clerks to federal and state trial judges and appellate judges. I’m now surrounded by people who want to do what I want to do—try cases with the very best.
What is unique about your approach to litigation? Why do clients come to you?
I focus on just two things in every case. One is building credibility. In every interaction with the judge, the jury, and opposing counsel, I want them to know that I am going to be able to back up everything I say, with the facts and the law. The other is keeping a running mental picture of myself in the courtroom all through the litigation process. As much as I can, I try to envision how I will use every bit of witness testimony, every admission in a deposition, every discovery response, and every document, to my client’s advantage while the trial is underway.
By focusing on these two critical aspects of their cases, from the first client meeting to the ultimate jury verdict and everything in between, clients know that I am not just going through the motions. Clients can feel confident knowing that I am always in trial preparation mode so that I will be in a position to provide the best possible representation when we are actually in trial.
How do you see your practice evolving at Larson LLP?
There’s no telling how my practice will evolve at Larson LLP. The sky is the limit! The firm is growing in size, but not growing away from what the founders set out to do, which was to build a firm focused on winning high-stakes trials. I also have more flexibility in the cases I choose now. Being at a boutique means fewer client conflicts, less red tape, and more room to explore potential new practice areas. For example, I had previously represented clients on a pro bono basis in some criminal trials, including a high-profile first-degree murder case. But, in my first weeks at Larson LLP I have already been hired to represent a client in a major felony criminal case that is on the eve of trial, which I find very exciting.
What do you consider to be your greatest trial victory so far?
That’s a hard one. Let me talk about just two. In one, I represented a company called Epic Systems in a trade secrets suit against the Tata Group, an Indian conglomerate. This case had multiple challenges. We had to prove information had been taken by Tata in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. Much of the supporting evidence had been deleted or destroyed. And, we had to piece together a lot of small bits of information from a lot of people in a very short amount of time, requiring us to present evidence from 50 witnesses in a two-week trial that included two openings and two closings. In the end, we ultimately convinced the jury to award Epic $940 million. At the time, our verdict was believed to be the largest jury verdict of any kind in Wisconsin history and one of the largest trade secrets verdicts in U.S. history.
The other was my representation of Dietrich Canterberry in a first-degree murder trial. Dietrich was raised here in Los Angeles and went on to graduate from UNLV, where he was the captain of the football team. On a Halloween weekend, Dietrich was drawn into an altercation outside of a Hollywood nightclub which resulted in the death of a man who charged at Dietrich during the altercation. Dietrich faced a possible sentence of 25 years to life. Although I was hoping for a complete acquittal, I was gratified when the jury returned a verdict of involuntary manslaughter, which resulted in Dietrich spending two years in jail. Dietrich is now out of jail and has resumed his productive life in our community.
What is one thing about you that someone wouldn’t learn by looking at your professional bio?
I love to hike and climb mountains. While my son David was still with us, we summited high-altitude and challenging mountains like Mount Whitney in California, Longs Peak in Colorado, and Grand Teton in Wyoming, and made a valiant attempt at Mount Rainier in Washington. We also climbed some other interesting places like Half Dome in Yosemite, Mount Baldy here in Southern California, and Mount Timpanogos in Utah.
Rick represents clients in a range of commercial litigation matters—including breach of contract, fraud, and class actions—and high-stakes intellectual property matters. He also counsels clients with respect to compliance issues in an increasingly complex legal environment. Throughout his career spanning more than three decades, Rick has litigated scores of complex and cutting-edge disputes in federal and state courts, federal and local administrative proceedings, and private arbitrations.
Download a printable PDF version of Rick’s Q&A here.