Law Firm: Reed Smith
Practice Area: Appeals
Years in Practice: 12 as an attorney, 21 as a judge
Law School: Loyola Law School Los Angeles
A partner at Reed Smith’s Los Angeles office, Margaret Grignon is known as one of California’s best and most successful appellate litigators. She has won victories in state and federal appeals courts in cases such as wage-and-hour class actions, arbitrations, health insurance benefits and employment issues. Her clients have included health insurance companies, retailers, post-secondary educational institutions, banks and other financial institutions. In April 2009, Grignon scored a big victory for Wachovia Bank when the California Court of Appeal effectively snuffed out a class action lawsuit by determining two putative class representatives previously had either released their ex-employer from or had settled their claims. The court’s ruling permits California employers to offer enhanced severance benefits to terminated employees in exchange for broad releases of claim and confirms that a class representative must have a personal stake in the action in order to prosecute a class actions lawsuit. Since 2008, Grignon has earned significant wins in more than 12 published cases by the 9th U.S. Circuit’s affirmation of a $450 million arbitration award in a dispute over insurance coverage for workers’ compensation claims. Last year, Grignon won appellate reversals of multiple trial court orders that – for the first time ever – addressed legal issues relating to transfers of structured financial settlements.
Pretrial Ritual: “I just try very hard to keep my adrenaline at bay. I make sure I’m very early. I get there with plenty of time. I go over my notes and make sure I’m calm and comfortable.”
Biggest Career Break: “My appointment to Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1984 by Gov. George Deukmejian. Having been a judge allowed me to go back into law with some name recognition.”