50 Years Young, Wingert Grebing Celebrates 50 Years of Professionalism by Passing on Excellence in Advocacy and Tradition to the Next Generation of Attorneys.
History of Raising The Bar
Wingert Grebing has expanded its renowned litigation practice over the last half-century to extend its areas of practice to include substantial legal malpractice defense work, business disputes, employment cases, intellectual property matters, and significant personal injury claims. Wingert Grebing also counts many national companies and regional businesses (architects, hoteliers and developers) as clients, serving their needs in an array of complex legal matters and appeals.
Long before William L. (Ted) Todd, Jr. was appointed to the San Diego Superior Court in 1974 by then Governor Ronald Reagan, he had set in motion a legacy of service that would serve to benefit the San Diego legal community for years to come. Justice Todd’s partners at the time of his appointment to the bench, John Wingert and Charles Grebing, took the existing firm to a new level in 1974, increasing Wingert Grebing’s overall presence in the legal community through the specific actions of its individual attorneys. John Wingert, now retired from practice, served as President of the San Diego Chapter of the exclusive and by-invitation-only American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). In like fashion, Charles Grebing who is well-known for his work as a ‘lawyer’s lawyer, served as a past president of the San Diego ABOTA Chapter and of CAL-ABOTA, the organization’s regional arm.
By the time Justice Todd retired from the Fourth District Court of Appeal to which he’d been elevated, the principles and standards that made him an accomplished trial lawyer and a beacon of service in the legal field had been passed along to generations of attorneys. Justice Todd had certainly set the bar for excellence in practice and service. For businesses, individual and institutional clients, and the legal community as a whole, the example he set has carried on through the work of the attorneys at Wingert, Grebing, Brubaker & Juskie LLP, the San Diego firm founded fifty years ago.
Evolution of Service
As the firm grew, its reputation as a group of renowned trial attorneys was further solidified as, one by one, the attorneys at Wingert Grebing continued the traditions of excellence coupled with service that had been established at its inception.
Partner Alan Brubaker is a former President of the San Diego Chapter and the immediate past-president of the California Regional Organization of ABOTA, still serving on its National Board. In fact, Wingert Grebing has the greatest number of attorneys admitted to the American Board of Trial Advocates in San Diego. Currently, John Wingert, Charles Grebing, Alan Brubaker, Robert Juskie, James Mangione, Chris Todd and Roger Dyer are all active members of ABOTA, no small feat for a firm of fifteen attorneys.
At the local level, Wingert Grebing’s attorneys continue to make a lasting impression on the San Diego legal community through their extensive involvement in the San Diego County Bar Association. According to Deborah Dixon, Associate with Wingert Grebing and active member of the New Lawyer’s Division of the San Diego County Bar Association, “Our mission has always been to serve. Our attorneys have served as past-presidents of the San Diego County Bar Association, and have consistently served as Board Members for the San Diego County Bar Association and Foundation Board; we have held almost every position in the Association over the years. We continue to serve on committees and as frequent speakers for the Bar Association.”
In addition to serving the San Diego County Bar Association and supporting its events, the firm’s attorneys also currently serve as Masters and Barristers in local chapters of the American Inns of Court, on the Board of Directors for San Diego Defense Lawyers and the South Asian Bar Association of San Diego and as Committee Chairs for the Lawyers Club of San Diego.
Nurturing the Next Generation
“The firm prides itself on its practical approach to litigation. We meet weekly to discuss cases and provide a sounding board for our lawyers to discuss the issues involved in our cases. As a result of this collegial and familial environment, our clients benefit because at any moment, there are 15 talented attorneys willing to assist on a case, encourage and guide the effort,” says Partner Alan Brubaker. From a practical standpoint, this certainly promotes unity among the firm’s members, but serves a crucial role in fulfilling one of the tenets of the firm as a whole, the tenet being the emphasis on providing constant education to young attorneys and law students clerking for the firm.
“Our firm has a heritage of service to the bar. We are committed to promoting ethics, civility and professionalism to the bench and bar. For attorneys at Wingert Grebing, our work as trial lawyers is not just a job; it’s a way of advancing the profession,” Brubaker says. Therefore, to ensure that standards in practice remain high, Wingert Grebing takes educating young and soon-to-be lawyers very seriously. Indeed, the firm and its individual members devote a substantial amount of time to ensuring that young lawyers and law students are receiving the practical and technical experience they need, while reminding them of the importance of giving back to the profession and community.
To that end, Wingert Grebing attorneys dedicate their time and resources to San Diego law schools, serving as adjunct professors, coaches for trial teams, and participating on the Board of Trust and Alumni Board for California Western School of Law, and on the Alumni Board and the University of San Diego School of Law Board of Visitors. Similarly, the firm’s attorneys are devoted to teaching trial skills not only to law students, but also to high school students, reinforcing the firm’s commitment to justice through excellent advocacy.
“We serve as judges in mock trials. We critique the students in an effort to help them improve their skills. We work with them on technical mechanics. As much as possible, we have law students clerking with us, as there is no better way to evaluate their skills than through work with experienced attorneys,” Brubaker adds. Wingert Grebing also encourages its younger attorneys to handle pro bono work to gain additional experience.
Wingert Grebing’s dedication to empowering young lawyers through practical experience and leading by example is just one way namesake partner Charles Grebing sees the firm as instrumental in keeping ethical practices and professionalism alive and well in the legal community. Grebing himself has been honored with the prestigious Broderick Award. This award is presented annually by the American Board to an attorney who is considered the model of civility, integrity and professionalism in the field of trial advocacy.
Leading By Example
The firm remains proud of its strong core leadership. “Wingert Grebing teaches our young attorneys not only how to practice law, but the importance of knowing the business of law,” says Stephen Grebing, the current Managing Partner. This philosophy of leading by example and engaging young attorneys in the practice of law early in their careers results in a direct benefit to the firm and its clients. Five of Wingert Grebing’s current partners began their legal careers as student law clerks at the firm. Among them are Stephen Grebing, the firm’s Managing Partner and Robert Juskie, one of the firm’s previous Managing Partners. Both embody the real history, spirit and future of the firm with their leadership and forward thinking approach to maintaining traditions of service, integrity and professionalism.
Passing Down Professional Principles
As the young generation of attorneys looks to the examples set by its predecessors, Wingert Grebing is determined to pass on some of the principles it holds dear. This is particularly true of the firm’s approach to serving the community at large, in addition to serving the bench and bar. “We dedicate our time to participating in numerous charitable events and causes, including Habitat for Humanity, Women’s Resource Fair and fundraisers and activities on behalf of local churches, including St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School,” Grebing says. The firm’s individual members also support programs that advance women’s rights, combat teen delinquency, educate regarding the rule of law, and promote ethics in the practice of law.
Wingert Grebing attorneys are actively involved in the San Diego Community. Their service includes representation of the indigent through the Legal Aid Society and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program. The firm’s attorneys also represent active duty service members during times of deployment. The firm has worked to develop legal relief programs and participates in outreach programs through the Bar. Members of the firm are proud to participate in an advisory capacity to San Diego Teen Court, and to educate students on all levels on the importance of the judicial branch and the constitutional right to trial by jury in civil actions.
But where exactly do the attorneys with Wingert Grebing utilize all of their expertise? In short, it all goes back to the clients and their challenges. “Lawyers of the firm endeavor to achieve the best outcome for its clients. In doing so, we ensure our effort and work product are commensurate with the client’s expectations and goals. We strive to achieve these goals by the most efficient and economical means,” says Brubaker.
“Whether our work relates to pre-litigation strategy, preparing for trial or focusing on alternative creative problem-solving methods, the firm prides itself in actively engaging with our clients and intently listening to their needs. We frequently achieve early resolution of matters before trial, but our clients know that we are capable and eager to try their cases, and have been for fifty years. However, we always first listen to our clients and allow them to participate in the case so that we can empower them. We excel in explaining and advising clients on complicated issues of law and ensure our clients understand and participate in their cases. This gives the client a sense of ownership and involvement in complex legal matters,” Brubaker continues.
In short, Wingert Grebing has worked hard to develop its well-deserved reputation for capable representation and a culture of reliance. Rewards from tireless effort over the years can be directly traced to the loyal clients that the firm counts as its own. In a sense, in this way, relationships come full circle.
Perhaps clients come to Wingert Grebing because the firm’s attorneys are among the most respected and experienced in Southern California (as evidenced by five of the firm’s attorneys being listed in The Best Lawyers in America, and two of the firm’s partners, Charles Grebing and Alan Brubaker achieving Fellowship in the American College of Trial Lawyers). Perhaps the clients come to Wingert Grebing because the firm as a whole has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating (AV®) for legal ability and ethical standards. But one thing is certain; Wingert Grebing’s clients afford their lawyers the opportunity to continue to learn something new every day, which the firm is then excited to be able to pass along to the next crop of attorneys. Make no mistake, when clients entrust Wingert Grebing with their advocacy and legal needs, they indirectly assist in assuring that the future of the practice of law remains strongly rooted in principles of professionalism, ethical practice and relentless service to others.
A Toast to the Future
For Wingert Grebing, the best way to celebrate fifty years of service is to look to the future of the firm. The firm has increased its emphasis on pre-litigation strategy and risk avoidance. Additionally, given the time the firm dedicates to serving the legal community, it is not surprising that, over the years, new specialties develop. For example, Charles Grebing has cultivated a focused specialty for the firm in the challenging field of legal malpractice. “Representing lawyers and defending their interests in claims and litigation is a necessary challenge in our field,” Grebing says.
To commemorate the anniversary of their firm, Wingert Grebing has recently celebrated its move to the 12th floor of One America Plaza, 600 W. Broadway, its new offices providing sensational views of the San Diego bay and Point Loma. But as far as Brubaker is concerned, the true celebration is in the evolution and the growth still to come. With its traditions rooted in litigation, the multi-faceted firm practice with its traditions rooted in litigation has extended its reach to include a successful personal injury practice, real estate development and construction matters, employment and construction law, and is growing in its focused areas of intellectual property practice and all forms of professional liability defense.
Certainly, the firm hopes to increase its positive influence in San Diego and within the legal community specifically though the actions of its individual attorneys. To date, and following in the footsteps of the firm’s founder, three additional former partners have been appointed to the bench, including Thomas O. LaVoy and Michael B. Orfield, both serving on California Superior Court, and Michael M. Anello, who was appointed to the Superior Court and subsequently confirmed as a Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
Quite clearly, there are a great many reasons why Wingert, Grebing, Brubaker & Juskie, LLP should be celebrating half a century of service in San Diego. Indeed, while the firm is proud of its individual members’ current and historical recognitions, awards and appointments, its members are quick to point out that they owe it all to their clients. As such, in addition to continuing to serve each of their clients with timely, effective lawyering and ethical professional service, the sure-fire way for Wingert Grebing to show its gratitude is through carrying on a tradition of effective advocacy and service well into the future.
Alan Brubaker, a career lawyer with the firm, is not only a leader within the firm, but also in the community, maintaining his active involvement in ABOTA and the American College of Trial Lawyers. Brubaker emphasizes civil trial work with a focus on the hospitality industry and representing individuals and companies in complex matters. In addition, Mr. Brubaker maintains a thriving business litigation practice, including intellectual property challenges, and continues to defend and prosecute significant personal injury cases.
Charles Grebing, has been practicing law at the firm for his entire 42 year career. He exemplifies the values of the firm and continues to be a model of civility and professionalism and an outstanding advocate for his clients. Grebing specializes in the representation of attorneys in complex litigation matters. Grebing is a certified legal malpractice specialist.
Stephen Grebing, who started his career with the firm as a file clerk in college, has literally risen through the ranks of the firm and serves as its current managing partner. In addition to his busy business litigation, construction and transactional practice, Mr. Grebing handles entitlement and land-use processes for developers, working cooperatively with municipalities and agencies in joint resolutions.
Robert Juskie, a partner of the firm, has spent his entire career at Wingert Grebing. He frequently solidifies his reputation as a powerful advocate for his clients in the courtroom, trying high-exposure personal injury matters and business disputes. Juskie has led the firm in its endeavor to ensure that its technology is current, efficient and user-friendly.
Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie LLP
600 W. Broadway, Suite 1200
San Diego, CA 92101
Filed Under: Featured Stories
About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal