~ Then and Now
known as Fredericks and Hanna, the firm was founded in 1915
by John D. Fredericks, formerly the District Attorney of Los
Angeles County, and Byron C. Hanna, at one time Frederick's
chief trial deputy. The firm was well known for its
expertise in trial and appellate work. As District Attorney,
John Fredericks had been lead prosecution counsel against
the McNamara brothers who were convicted of having bombed
the Los Angeles Times building in 1910. The McNamaras were
defended by Clarence Darrow. Later, in 1912, Fredericks prosecuted
Darrow in two jury bribing cases arising out of the McNamara
case. Both trials ended in hung juries. In 1928, Harold
C. Morton became a partner of the firm which then was known
as Fredericks, Hanna and Morton. In 1932, the firm took its
present name of Hanna and Morton. With the arrival of
Harold Morton, the firm continued to maintain its reputation
as a trial and appellate firm and also began building a reputation
as one of California’s premier oil and gas law firms.
Byron Hanna died in 1951 and Harold Morton, in 1978. In recent
years, while still known for its trial and appellate skills
and its oil and gas expertise, the firm has developed expertise
in environmental law, corporate transactions, real estate,
energy regulation, foundations and trusts and general business
law. Moreover, the firm has attracted lawyers with broad national
experience, having held responsible legal positions in government,
large publicly held corporations, private corporations, foundations
and large national law firms.
Transactions - represent individuals,
partnerships and corporations in business formations,
large and small acquisitions, mergers and entity
restructurings, and as general business counsel.
Estate - represent developers, buyers,
sellers and property managers in a wide range
of real estate and land use and Brownfields
and Natural Gas - provide services
to both majors and independents in the petroleum
and natural gas industry, including oil and
gas field, pipeline, refining and marketing
transactions and litigation.
- represent producers of electric power in
transactions, regulatory proceedings and litigation.
- represent businesses and individuals in all
types of environmental matters including federal,
state and local issues, in litigation, in proceedings
before regulatory agencies, and in transactions.
- represent fiduciaries, largely defending
trusts and handling other fiduciary litigation.
Organizations - create and represent
non-profits with particular expertise in creating
and representing private foundations.
- represent complex estates in probate proceedings.
Dispute Resolution - represent clients
in the mediation and arbitration of cases as
a cost-effective solution.
- represent clients in complex appellate matters,
both state and federal, including matters tried
by other firms.
Trials - represent clients in both
state and federal courts, including defending
class actions and derivative suits. Serve as
local counsel for out of state law firms with
cases in California.
Trials - defend corporate and individual
clients being investigated or charged with “white collar” crime.
- represent insureds who have been denied coverage.
combine long-established traditions with new ideas. On the
one hand, we adhere to traditional values of professionalism,
honesty and loyalty to our clients’ interests. On the
other, we seek new ways of going about our work so as to solve
our clients' legal problems more quickly and cost effectively.
Our approach is based on seven principles:
No. 1 Reward results, not hours. Pay
for hours, you will get hours. Pay for results, you will
be more apt to get results. The key here is that not only
must lawyers and clients be able to define good results
both must be willing to take risks. That is, clients must
be willing to pay something extra for good results and
must be willing to take a hit for poor results.
No. 2: Capitalize on experience.
An experienced lawyer generally will do a better job in less
time than an inexperienced lawyer. Clients should not be put
off by the experienced lawyer’s higher billing rate.
Considering the efficiency with which the experienced lawyer
works and the high cost of adverse outcomes, the experienced
lawyer will generally be much more cost effective in the
No. 3: Shorten the cycle. Not
only is legal work time intensive and therefore expensive
but so too are the often overlooked internal costs associated
with legal problems. Based on discussions with lawyers in
a number of corporate legal departments, we estimate that
for every dollar a client pays a lawyer to handle a problem,
it costs another dollar in lost profits because of lost time,
internal distractions and loss of focus. The solution? If
the goal is to reduce legal costs, find a way to solve problems
more quickly. In other words, shorten the cycle.
No. 4: Build relationships. Retaining
a lawyer should involve more than simply hiring a technician – it should involve building relationships. Lawyers
and clients need to understand each others’ businesses,
know each others' staff and particularly learn each others’ expectations and goals. Solving legal problems
requires a creative environment. Good relationships foster
creativity; bad relationships destroy creativity.
No. 5: Use the billing process to build
trust. Too often the billing process is a point of friction
between lawyers and clients. A lawyer’s bill should
not be a relationship breaker. It should be a relationship
builder. We don’t charge more than a reasonable fee
and our Billing Policies infra give our clients the
final word on whether a bill for our services is reasonable.
No. 6: Make use of technology, outsourcing
and teaming. Before lawyers can move away from pricing
services solely on the basis of hours spent and begin pricing
on the basis of results, they need business plans which permit
profits to be made without leveraging off the time of others.
To do this requires that lawyers rely heavily on technology,
outsourcing and teaming rather than hiring three or four associates
per partner. This permits an experienced lawyer to prepare
large cases without a large, full time legal staff and the
high fixed costs and dependency on hourly rate billing that
go with such a staff.
No. 7: It is not enough for a lawyer to
be technically qualified. In addition to being
highly qualified from a technical standpoint, a lawyer must
add value by offering creative, practical solutions that help
clients do three things: (a) bring problems to satisfactory
conclusions in the shortest possible time; (b) avoid future
problems, and (c) discover profitable opportunities. For instance,
a lawyer may be the very best of trial lawyers but he does
his clients a disservice if he does not find creative ways
of solving most disputes without litigation. He also does
his client a disservice if he does not suggest periodic “near
miss” analysis. From time to time every business has
“near misses.” Some are problems thankfully avoided.
Others are missed opportunities. Either way they need to
identified and analyzed in an orderly fashion so that in
the future the dangerous near misses can be avoided and the
can be seized.
often the billing process is a point of friction between lawyer
and client. We believe that it is an opportunity to build
trust between lawyer and client. We are flexible and
willing either to bill by the number of hours spent on the
matter or to establish alternative results-oriented fee arrangements.
We believe that over reliance on so-called “hourly rate
billing” oftentimes misses the mark in that it is not
sufficiently sensitive to results. It can also lead to inefficiencies.
Wherever possible, our preference is to adopt billing methods
which align our interests with yours and which reward results
rather than reward expenditures of time without regard to
will not charge more than a reasonable fee. If a dispute
arises as to the reasonableness of our fee, the client has
the final word. If we were to conclude that the client's
of reasonableness was unfair, our remedy would be to exercise
our right to cease work and withdraw as soon as permitted
by the canons of ethics.
For many years we have represented businesses of all sizes.
They have ranged from major corporations with large sophisticated
legal departments to small, privately owned businesses without
in-house legal staff. We typically work on a project-by-project
basis although for some we have served as general counsel,
giving advice on a day-to-day basis. In recent years, our
business clients have included, among others:
British Petroleum (formerly Atlantic Richfield
Beringer Wine Estates
Burbank, California, City of
Clayton Industries (a privately owned
manufacturer of industrial equipment)
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Firmenich (an international, privately-owned,
fragrance and flavors manufacturer)
Glendale, California, City of
Metal Edge Inc. (a privately owned manufacturer
of archival materials)
Modesto Irrigation District
Northern California Power Agency
Northern Trust Bank
Pamarco Incorporated (a manufacturer of
Pasadena, California, City of
Redding, California, City of
Shell Oil Company
Silicon Valley Power
Southern California Public Power Authority
Southern California Utility Power Pool
Strategic Energy LLC
Texaco Inc. (now ChevronTexaco Corp.)
Turlock Irrigation District
The Williams Companies, Inc.
Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL)
Warren Resources, Inc. (an independent
oil and gas producer)
Wells Fargo Bank
Institutions. We have substantial experience in
the formation, regulation and governance of charitable institutions.
Typically we work for these clients on a project-by-project
basis although in the case of one of the nation’s largest
charitable foundations—the W.M. Keck Foundation—we
act as general counsel.
We also are well versed in the representation of individuals
with significant real estate, business, trust, tax and estate