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It’s a Profession First

At Fleming & Fell PC, Civility, Integrity and Experience Result in Big Firm Quality with Small Firm Flexibility

ProfessionalProfile_2013George Fleming’s reputation as one of San Diego’s most highly regarded trial lawyers is well-deserved. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Fleming has tried more than 100 cases, was past president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, named one of the Best Lawyers in America for more than a decade, and is routinely selected for inclusion in San Diego Super Lawyers. But what makes Fleming & Fell unique is its philosophy that the law is a profession first, not a business.

To that end, Fleming has always placed emphasis on an often overlooked aspect of being a true professional; namely mentoring up and coming attorneys. Early in his own career, Fleming worked his way from law clerk to equity partner in McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees, Sharkey & McIntyre. “The mentorship offered at McInnis was unique, top quality and nurturing. My vision was to [eventually] recreate a firm with an environment similar to that which I enjoyed at McInnis which included excellent trial lawyers, early and intense training of young lawyers, and impeccable ethics,” he says.

In 2008, he brought his vision to life, forming a partnership with a gifted attorney he had mentored who shared his goals and commitment to civility and ethics. At Baker & McKenzie, Bibianne (Bibi) Fell was one of the associates who worked on Fleming’s cases. As had been his practice since early in his career, Fleming had taken an interest in training Bibi to prepare and take cases to trial.

“He takes the approach of allowing you to test your skills in deeper waters, but promises not to let you drown,” Bibi says. “He was a senior attorney, and he got me involved. When George decided to leave ‘big law’ and open his own firm, I was ready to be his partner.”

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Big Firm Quality
When Fleming and Fell launched their firm in 2008, they already had an incredible reputation in place, thanks in large part to Fleming’s profile in the San Diego legal community. Bibi was earning her own stripes as well. She was twice recognized as a Top Young Attorney by the San Diego Daily Transcript, and is an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at the University of San Diego School of Law. She regularly gives guest lectures to the students of the USD Civil Clinic. Fell also serves as a co-Program Director for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Deposition Skills and Deposing the Expert Witness programs. She has taught both deposition skills and trial skills through NITA since 2008.

Consequently, it came as no surprise that word-of-mouth referrals followed Fleming and Fell into their new practice, as did referrals from opposing counsel. The two also added Tracey Angelopoulos as a partner, and brought in Cary Miller and Charles Fell as Of Counsel attorneys for the practice. The end result is a team of attorneys who seek to resolve matters for clients with as little litigation as possible, but with the advantage of having the ability and willingness to take their clients’ cases all the way to trial if necessary. “Our clients have told us that hiring our firm sends the message to the other side that they are serious about going all the way,” says Bibi. Likewise, due to the reputation the firm has earned over the past five years, from time to time, Fleming & Fell PC is also pulled into cases shortly before trial as trial counsel.

Small Firm Flexibility
Yet, despite its big firm pedigree, Fleming & Fell PC—which focuses on products liability litigation (individual and Class Actions); complex civil litigation; commercial litigation; contractual disputes & indemnification; labor and employment litigation; wage and hour disputes (individual and Class Actions); employee theft & trade secret; fiduciary litigation and unfair competition & business torts—is truly a boutique trial firm.

“This is a profession first, and a business second,” says Fleming. “We don’t employ scorched-earth strategies. We owe it to our clients first and foremost to do a good job. We also have an obligation to the courts and the community not to waste resources.” As such, Fleming explains that in lieu of fighting every battle in a case, “we focus on the war.” That means that Fleming & Fell PC tends to focus on one or two critical weaknesses in opposing counsels’ argument, rather than fighting every little detail. In this way, the firm is able to efficiently and effectively handle what is important, while sparing clients the expense (and courts the time) of arguing over details that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. “We only fight the battles worth fighting, and we pick our battles very carefully,” Fleming notes.

Fleming & Fell’s reputation for integrity and professionalism with clients extends to courtrooms and to the community as well. “We work really well with others,” Fell says. “We are known for our civility, so judges know that if we’re fighting over something, it must really be an issue.”

Fell acknowledges that part of what the firm does to remain committed to being professionals first may not appear to make a great deal of sense from strictly business standpoint. “As a smaller firm, we are able to be more flexible with our billing rates. We can set flat rates, or make adjustments as necessary,” she says. Moreover, Fleming & Fell PC allows its clients to have a say in which attorneys they want working on their cases, and to have direct access to the team at all levels.

It is clear that George Fleming and Bibi Fell have found a strategy for success which results in victories for their clients, and allows them to remain committed to their core values of honesty, integrity and civility. With a steady but conservative growth plan in place, it’s only fitting that part of their expansion will include the mentoring of young attorneys that when it comes to practicing law, it’s a profession first.

Contact:

gfleming@flemingfell.com | www.flemingfell.com | 858-554-0500

Fleming & Fell PC
4225 Executive Square, Suite 200 | La Jolla, CA 92037

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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