When Ashley Parris, a senior staff attorney
at Inner City Law Center, asked Gregory
L. Bentley to help litigate a low-income
housing case, pro bono, it didn’t take him
long to say yes.
“You always feel compelled to help the
Units didn’t have electricity. Cockroaches
little guy, and I’ve always admired those
that did pro bono work and helped the
least of these,” says Bentley, a married
father of three whose main work is
insurance litigation at Shernoff Bidart
Echeverria Bentley. “It’s something I
always wanted to do and I just never
The case, Villegas, et al. v. Vista
Cahuenga, et al., centered on a run-down
100-unit building with only 30 occupied
units and landlords who failed to meet
housing codes for fire safety, pestilence,
mold, plumbing, electrical and flooring.
and bedbugs were rampant.
“You see the conditions and it’s a no-
brainer: We have to do something, we have to
make a change,” Bentley says. “The tenants
just didn’t understand they had rights. It
was shocking to me that these people put
up with it for as long as they did.”
The kicker? The apartment building was
in Hollywood Hills.
“You always think [such conditions are in]
some third-world country,” says Bentley. “But
when you actually see it in the city where
you work and live … It made me angry that
people could treat other people like that.”
Bentley credits his father’s work as a
teacher and elementary school principal and
his mother’s natural empathy for “the DNA in
me” that guides him in his profession.
“Whether it’s an insurance company
that’s not paying claims when they’re due,
or denying health care for patients whose
doctors say they need it, or if it’s somebody
who’s suffered a tragedy as the result of a car
accident or the loss of a loved one, you have
to have empathy for your clients,” he says.
“We deal with situations where tragedy has
happened. Our job is to do the best we can
to bring back as much semblance of life so
these families can get back to as normal as
possible. And to make sure that whoever did
cause the problem is held accountable and
those who suffered are compensated.”
The Villegas case ended in April with a
nearly $4 million settlement.
HOW GREGORY L. BENTLEY AND INNER CITY LAW CENTER HELPED TENANTS WHO DIDN’T
KNOW THEIR RIGHTS—OR THAT THEY HAD ANY BY JIM WALSH
A HOLLYWOOD (HILLS) ENDING
BOOK CASE WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING?
It discusses our frailties at predicting
future events. We think we’re better
than we are at making predictions
about weather, baseball and financial
markets, based on mathematical
modeling, data collection and analytics.
Although we might be right sometimes,
one takeaway is our need to be modest
about our abilities.
MORGAN CHU / PARTNER, IRELL &
MANELLA; LOS ANGELES; BUSINESS
LI TIGATION; INTELLECTUAL PROPERT Y
My grandfather fought in that war—a
young private in the Scottish Rifles—and
I’ve always wanted to know more about
it. Farwell presents a vivid and detailed
picture of the causes and results of the
war, the battles fought and the remarkable
men and women who played a role.
BERT FIELDS / PARTNER, GREENBURG
GLUSKER; LOS ANGELES; ENTERTAINMENT &
SPORTS; BUSINESS LITIGATION
My daughter, a sophomore at NYU, was
reading it for a course; and I found it such
an amazing and enlightening book. I share
it with anyone who will listen.
STACY D. PHILLIPS / MANAGING
PRINCIPAL, PHILLIPS LERNER; LOS
ANGELES; INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
The Signal and the
Noise: Why So Many
BY NATE SILVER
The Great Boer War
BY BYRON FARWELL
The Brain That
Stories of Personal
the Frontiers of
BY NORMAN DOIDGE, M.D.