Richard Meneghello was nervous. He’d
spent weeks drafting briefs and crafting
the oral argument for the fast-tracked
Albertsons, Inc. v. Kirkingburg, a disability
discrimination case that came before the
U.S. Supreme Court in 1999.
The case involved a truck driver with
degenerative vision loss in one eye who
lost his commercial driver’s license.
He had worked for Albertsons, but the
grocery chain would no longer let him
drive. The man obtained a waiver from the
Department of Transportation as part of
an experimental program, but Albertsons,
citing safety concerns, would not rehire him
as a truck driver. So he sued. Meneghello’s
firm represented Albertsons.
The day of the argument arrived, but
there was one problem: Attorneys are
required to practice for at least three years
before they can argue in front of the U.S.
Supreme Court, and Meneghello was only
2 ½ years into his career. Thus barred
from even the counsel table, he had to sit
on pins and needles in the public seating
gallery and watch the argument delivered
by his mentor, Corbett Gordon.
“I doubt I would have given the oral
argument even if I had been practicing
longer. Corbett is incredibly brilliant,”
Meneghello says. “Even though I have
utter trust and confidence in her, it
was like seeing a loved one perform on
stage. You’re just white-knuckled and
hoping things go well.”
Their teamwork paid off. Albertsons won
the case, 9-0.
Meneghello, who moved to Portland
with his wife, Kirsten, after graduating
from Georgia State University College
of Law in 1996, connected with Gordon
almost immediately. “For several months
in the summer while I was studying for the
bar, I did contract research legal work for
anybody and everybody, just to pay the
rent,” he says. “[Gordon] ended up using
me the most. She had her own small
employment defense law firm and we got
along really well.”
After he passed the bar, Meneghello
worked briefly with another firm before
a spot opened up at Corbett Gordon &
Associates. The two attorneys have been
colleagues ever since, including through a
merger with Fisher & Phillips. He’s now a
managing partner at the age of 39.
“Corbett definitely trained me not just in
the practice of law, but in the management
of an office and in the things you don’t
learn in law school about becoming
a partner in terms of marketing and
watching the bottom line and mentoring
younger associates and keeping clients
happy,” he says.
He knew law was his calling early on.
“I always found, out on the playground or
while playing sports, that [people on] both
sides of an argument would come to me
and have me resolve it,” Meneghello says.
“I realized I had this natural gift for being
able to weigh both sides and come up with
Resolving problems—and preventing
them from happening in the first
place—is how he views his role as an
employment and disability defense
attorney. “When I’m driving home from
work, the days I’m the happiest are the
days when I have the self-awareness to
realize that I really helped somebody
solve a problem,” he says.