Name of business: Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold LLP
Name of partners: Kelton Lee Gibson, Dennis Neil Jones, Erik B. Feingold, Steven P. Lee and Douglas A. Bordner
Product or service: Legal services
Address: 5425 Everglades St., Ventura, CA 93003 (other offices located in Thousand Oaks, Valencia, Las Vegas, Reno and Mammoth Lakes)
Date established: 1971
Hours open: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Number of employees: 16 attorneys and 10 support staff
Franchise fee or startup capital paid: N/A
Person answering this: J. Roger Myers, founding partner, Of Counsel
What prompted you to start your own business? I always knew I wanted to study law. My first job out of law school was working in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. One of my colleagues, a man named Omer L. Rains (who later became a state senator), left to start his own private practice. In 1971, he asked me to join him, and we founded the law firm Rains & Myers. At first, we handled primarily criminal defense and divorce cases as well as civil litigation and business matters.
What is your educational and career background? In college, I played football at the University of Nebraska, where I studied Political Science and English; my goal was always to study law. Immediately after graduating, I joined the Marine Corp as an officer. My last assignment in the military was in Vietnam. I returned from Vietnam and left active duty in July 1966 and started law school at UC Hastings College of Law one month later. There were many anti-Vietnam protests in San Francisco at the time, but UC Hastings was one of the best law schools, so I stayed. I graduated with my Juris Doctor in 1969 and landed my first job at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
How much research did you do before starting your business? Since Omer Rains approached me and initiated the formation of Rains & Myers, I didn’t have to do much research. I had experience at the DA’s office and Omer had experience at the DA’s office and from running his own private practice for a few years.
What were the most helpful sources, including websites? Our most helpful sources by far were other attorneys and judges, who were kind enough to answer our questions. At the time, there were only 300 lawyers in Ventura County. Now there are more than 2,000, so the competition was much different.
When were you the most discouraged? It is always challenging when you lose a client, but of course, business often goes in waves. It was actually quite challenging between 1972 and 1974. At that time, Monte Widders had joined the firm and was working with us about half time, since he was still maintaining his private practice in Santa Barbara at the time. Both Rains and Widders were campaigning—Rains for state senate and Widders for Carpinteria City Council—so I was handling pretty much all the business in the office myself. After Rains was elected, he left the firm and, in 1974, we changed the name to Myers & Widders. After that, the firm started growing.
What company or individual do you admire? When we were getting started, I remember specifically admiring and looking to Don Benton and Bill Hair for inspiration and help. Don Benton is one of the named partners of Benton, Orr, Duval & Buckingham—Ventura County’s oldest law firm. Bill Hair helped found Nordman, Cormany, Hair & Compton, which used to be the largest law firm in the region. Both are great men and great attorneys.
What will make your business stand out from competitors? We are now, after 43 years, an established full-service law firm. Our team of 16 lawyers are all committed to providing top caliber and effective legal representation through ethical practices while serving our community. In every aspect of the legal work we perform — counseling, transactional work or litigation — our continued goal is to provide the best services while keeping our clients’ budgets and best interests in mind. MWGJF is distinguished not only by the scope of its legal representation, but also by its ability to undertake the types of cases usually reserved for large firms, but with lower fees, personal attention and other advantages of a small firm.
Who is your target client base? Anybody in need of legal assistance, from individuals up to multi-national corporations. Our team has proven track records of handling every stage of legal representation from forming a business to the final sale and everything in between. Our multi-jurisdictional offices serve individuals and businesses in Southern California, the central coast, Mammoth Lakes and Nevada. We are qualified to handle insurance cases and litigation, including construction defect; personal injury; employment law; estate planning; homeowners association law; intellectual property; municipal law; real estate; construction law; collections; elder care; and class actions.
Our real estate law, construction defect, homeowners associations, personal injury, estate planning and trial practice areas are particularly robust. Two members of our trial team, Greg Ramirez and Jill Friedman, are members of the exclusive American Board of Trial Advocates with millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements between them. Partner Erik Feingold was nominated in 2011 by the Consumer Attorneys Association of California for his role in obtaining the largest personal injury verdict in Ventura County. Additionally, the firm is AV Rated ® by Martindale-Hubbell, signifying that the firm has reached the height of professional excellence, partner Dennis Jones has been named a Southern California Super Lawyer numerous times over the past decade, and Michael S. Martin has been named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the past two years.