Competitive Nature Fits in Athletics and in Court
Background: Gregory Brown was born in La Jolla and grew up in Orange County. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University in 1984 and his law degree from the University of San Diego in 1987. Brown has been practicing for nine years, specializing in business and corporate litigation, construction, casualty defense and employment disputes. He is currently the managing partner of Kring & Brown with offices in Irvine, San Diego, Ontario and Phoenix.
For several years, Kring & Brown has been sponsoring, and Brown has been competing in, the Kring & Brown Human Race Triathlon, which benefits the Orange County Performing Arts Center and the Alzheimer’s Association. Brown and his wife, Michele, have been married 10 years and have three sons, 8, 4 and 1.
You are heavily involved in sports. Was that an important part of your youth?
“Yeah, I was involved in different sports.”
Is that part of your being a naturally competitive person?
You said that pretty quickly.
“I am sure of that.”
It must be a good characteristic for a litigator.
“I think we have to kind of have that. I don’t think anyone will say that I am not competitive (laugh).”
So, is it a coincidence that most of the places where there are Kring and Brown offices, you have lived there?
“(Laugh) Phoenix is not a coincidence. That has to do with me going out there and the fact we have a number of clients out in Arizona that send us California work, and they also send us Arizona work. It seemed like a natural thing. I am licensed out there, we have clients out there, and we have a partner that runs that office. It is not just my roots in Arizona, but that certainly helped.”
Turning to the Case in Focus. You were dealing with a molding company that the plaintiff wanted to buy, but the defendant sold it to someone else…
“Yeah, pretty dry.”
So, how do you make that interesting to the jury?
“We had to make it as interesting as we possibly could, but I tell you, it is pretty difficult. The interest in the case was really in the nuances, certainly not in the overall big picture. But is had a lot of people issues that were important to the case. It had to do with one person’s word against another person’s. There were interesting contrasts as far as one person’s word versus another as opposed to what everyone else involved in the transaction was thinking. Most of the witnesses were lawyers which was really unique. We had the senior named partner of Stradling, Yocca, Carlson and Rauth as a witness. The former managing partner at Paul Hastings was a witness. The senior counsel for M.A. Hanna Co. was a witness. The law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue was also involved. It seemed like nothing but lawyers (laugh).”
So how were the lawyers as witnesses?
“You know, it’s interesting. I think everyone would expect that lawyers would be great witnesses, and I don’t think that just because they are lawyers, they are great witnesses. They can be just as bad as anybody else.”
Judging from your approach to the case, it seems you had to create a little story for the jury.
“Yeah, the only way to present it was a story, and there was a story to it. Obviously, there were two different stories, and the case, I think, was presented from both sides in a pretty good fashion as far as that’s concerned. The jury understood both sides of the story. I think their side had a little more drama to it just based on the allegation they were making -that our clients were intentionally trying to conspire to defraud the plaintiff of the molding division.”
The plaintiff did not have as many assets as the defendant, but when you are talking about thus much money, the jury is not automatically going to have sympathy for one side over another?
“I don’t think so, and in my closing argument, that is kind of what I had to deal with. I think we had more evidence on our side, and I actually used the scales of justice in the closing argument. You know, everyone.
Cullins & Grandy
Douglas Cullins talks about the scales of justice with the preponderance of evidence. I used poker chips and filled the scales with chips to show how the evidence was overwhelming on our side. So, I actually went through and said, “OK, so and so testified to this,” and put a chip on the plaintiff’s side. So the [plaintiff] had three chips and we had like 25 chips on our side to illustrate the point that, in our mind, the evidence was overwhelming.”
How do you think a jury perceives you and so you often think about that?
“You have to think about that. I’m not sure how they perceive me. I know how I would like them to perceive me, and this is credible, clear, not wasting their time, passionate about my case and that I believe in my case. Also, that I am communicating well with them through evidence and anyway else I can that is permissible. I guess I don’t want to give them a reason to dislike me or our side. That’s my goal.
You have only been practicing for nine years, and you are a named partner for a firm with offices in four locations. Do you every sit back and say, “Hey I’m doing pretty good?”
“(Laugh). I look forward mostly and say “I hope I can keep it up.” (Laugh). That’s where I spend most of time looking, really. I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish, but there is still a lot of time left, so I think more about making sure I am able to keep us our success.”
You have four different offices, three children, you spouse,, not to mention you athletics. How do you balance that?
“Well, it is a balancing act. …I’m not trying cases all the time. I don’t try that many cases. I mean, everyone would like to try more cases, but you just can’t. So, when trials happen, I get support at home as far as the home front goes, and people at the office have to help cover any stuff I was doing. I want to make clear that as far as being managing partner, it doesn’t mean I am the man in chard of running the whole thing (laugh). I do a lot of the administrative work, and we have five other partners that all work together to make the firm as successful as possible and a good place to work.”
What do other litigation professionals say about this attorney.”
“Attorney Douglas Cullins of Cullins & Grandy in Laguna Hills describes Brown as a “tenacious, competitive attorney. I think if you are a good attorney, you have to be. He’s a smart kid. I mean, he is young and already the partner of about a 40-man firm. Gregory is a sharp kid and a great guy. He is a very confident, very ethical guy. That’s why I refer people to he.” Attorney Steve R. Kuhn of The Law Offices of Steve R. Kuhn in Laguna Niguel was Brown’s opposing counsel on a case and says, “I was very impressed by his organizational talents, his thoroughness and his professionalism.” Kuhn adds: “He is a gentleman and an all-around nice guy.”