Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey (GJELL) has a formula for success: it involves scrupulously vetting potential cases. The purpose is twofold, according to partner Andy Gillin, “It is our constant goal to keep our caseloads low in general and to see to it that those cases we do accept are uniquely suited to our skill set.”

By keeping its caseloads extremely low and by seeing to it that the cases it does accept are those that are suited to the GJELL approach, the firm brings enormous focus and intensity to each case it accepts. That is not to say that the firm ever turns down a case just because it is difficult.

To the contrary; GJELL is known for record-breaking verdicts in cases that have been turned down by other firms.

A substantial amount of time is spent getting to know the potential plaintiff.

“Not only does the case have to be ‘right,’ but the chemistry with the client has to be right,” says Gillin. Once those two factors lock in, hard work and creativity start to flow.

“We are a fortunate bunch of lawyers.

We get to do something that we believe in, for people we believe in.

It makes for a rewarding career,” says Gillin.

Finally, a lower than normal caseload also allows more time for pro bono work and public service. Every summer GJELL hosts its “Introduction to Careers in Law.” High school students from around the Bay Area are invited to the firm to spend a week receiving extensive, in-depth exposure to a law firm culture.

This will be Luke Ellis’s 16th year coaching the award-winning Mock Trial Team at Miramonte High School in Orinda. In spite of a full trial calendar handling catastrophic injury cases, Ellis makes time teaching basic rules of evidence and procedure to the students and honing his teams to compete with other high schools from around the county and the state in the annual mock trial competition.

“It’s hard work, but well worth it,” says Ellis. “Being with these kids as they come alive with the law and develop critical thinking skills is truly special.”

For decades GJELL has operated programs that offer good paying entry-level jobs to college graduates who are between college and law school. The firm employs two to four interns at all times. These interns typically work several years in the firm, and GJELL partners mentor these interns, helping them to matriculate to the best law schools around the country. More than 20 of these former GJELL interns are now practicing attorneys at places as diverse as California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) to big law firms around the country.

According to managing partner Andy Gillin, “We all began our careers in public service and are grateful for the mentoring we were given along the way. We want to pass something on to the next generation, particularly to kids who otherwise might not have an opportunity to be exposed to the many job opportunities in the legal system.”