Ring, 50, sandy-haired and wearing a
light blue custom-made suit, seems, for a
Los Angeles attorney, to be one low-key,
laid back dude. Then Taylor, 63, ambles in,
clad in a checkered shirt, rust colored jeans
and sports shoes, and Ring seems uptight
Taylor is the “big picture guy,” and
Ring the self-described “details man” and
managing partner, but both men pride
themselves on running a loose ship.
“We don’t keep tabs on anyone,” says
“We do, we do!” Taylor insists.
Ring. “I kind of just know where they are
because they tell me, but we don’t keep
Taylor nods. “We treat you like a grown-
up. You’re getting the work done, that’s
fine. If we need to find you, we look on the
calendar. And if I really need to find you, I
have your cellphone.”
And while they have group lunches with
staff three or four times a month, it’s not
to talk shop. “We just shoot the shit,” Ring
says with a smile. “And it’s not polite.”
What they don’t have, they’re quick to
emphasize, is regular “firm meetings.”
Mock-banging his fist on the table, Ring
proclaims, “From the start, we vowed,
‘No firm meetings!’ We have maybe two
meetings a year.”
Taylor shakes his head. “Every three or four
months we sit and go over all the cases.”
While Taylor says this, Ring puts up two
fingers—indicating two meetings—and
emphatically juts them into the air.
At which point Ring shrugs and laughs.
“He’s just saying that for the malpractice
Such disagreements are part of the game.
“Sometimes I’ll say to John, ‘You gotta be
kidding me! You’re taking that case?’” Ring
says with a laugh. “Or he’ll say to me, ‘I just
don’t see how that’s a case!’ And that’s great.
We can say whatever we want to each other,
and no one takes it personally. We talk to
each other like brothers.”
As for “I told you so” moments, Ring
says, “Of course there’s ‘I told you so!’ But
it’s always in a good-natured way.”
But it would be a big mistake to confuse
a “hands-off” philosophy with staff for
being anything less than “all hands on
deck” regarding clients.
Taylor says, more seriously, “We
So we’re here every day.” He pauses and
represent people that bad stuff has
happened to, and in a disproportionate
number of the cases there’s a bad person
on the other side, not somebody that we
vilify. We believe in the integrity of our
cases—I use that word all the time. We
like fighting the good fight.”
“We’re both grinders,” Ring adds. “We’re
here every day, not disappearing for three
weeks at a time doing something. We grind
away. If we started resting on our laurels,
that’s the biggest mistake we could make.
looks at Taylor. “What’s wrong with us?”
THOUGH THEY CAME TO THE LAW IN
different ways, both were influenced by
their fathers’ business experiences.
Ring’s father worked at a small
manufacturing business and rose to
become company president. Consequently,
at USC in the mid-’80s, Ring ran with a
crowd that assumed you’d get a business
degree and go into real estate. It was a
prospect that didn’t enthuse him.
By happenstance, someone suggested
he take a business law course and he was
instantly enthralled. “I didn’t know one
damn thing about lawyers growing up,”
Ring says. “I had no lawyers in my family,
I never dealt with lawyers, I never talked
about lawyers. Nothing. Zero,” he says.
When the dust settled, Ring landed a job
at an insurance defense firm.
Taylor’s father worked in the marketing
department at Ford Motors. One of
his tasks was reading movie scripts to
decide which Ford products to feature
in various films. According to Taylor, his
father was “constructively terminated,”
meaning he was put under an untenable
work position and quit. Taylor’s sense of
pulling for the underdog was born.
While in law school he clerked for
two years in the public defender’s office,
and upon graduating he traveled to Los
Angeles to look for a public defender
position; but Prop 13 passed that year,
which threw county government budgets
into disarray, and essentially meant a
hiring freeze in the public defender’s
office. Needing a job, he finally took one—
also with an insurance defense firm.
Separately, both men recall sitting in
the courtroom looking longingly at the
plaintiff’s bench and wishing they could be
sitting on that side.
“I knew right away I wanted to be on
the other side, the guy representing the
individual,” Ring says, mentioning Bruce
Broillet as a particular inspiration. After
a couple years, he joined the father-son
plaintiff’s firm McNicholas & McNicholas,
handling personal injury and employment
His career took a turn one day when
a family walked in, claiming that their
son had been molested by a teacher. “It
was the mid-’90s. You didn’t hear much
about sexual abuse and harassment
cases. Victims didn’t want to come
forward.” Ring and Patrick McNicholas
took the case, and lawyers for the school
district agreed on a settlement totaling
less than $1 million. Surprisingly, the
school board, which had final approval,
vetoed the settlement and the case went
to trial. “We got a $10 million verdict,”
Ring says. His phone started lighting up.
Taylor’s “Bruce Broillet” appeared in the
form of Mike Piuze, who was occupying the
plaintiff’s seat in 1982. Starting in 1984,
Taylor worked with Piuze for four years,
then branched out on his own. In 1990, he
became a founding member of Greene,
Broillet, Taylor & Wheeler.
Twelve years later, when he was turning
50, Taylor decided he wanted to start his
own, smaller firm. “I wanted to look out
different windows,” he says.
Ring, too, was entertaining the idea of
going it alone. It was a mutual friend who
had the inspiration to pair them up. At that
first meeting, Taylor and Ring sealed the
deal with a handshake.
From the get-go they tried a lot of cases.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work, there’s
lots of risk associated with it, and sometimes
we lose. But if you’re not losing cases, you’re
not trying enough cases,” Taylor says.
This philosophy has residual benefits.
“Knowing that you’re willing to go to trial
ensures that you get the best result for
your client,” Taylor says. “It strengthens
your position.” He tosses in a metaphor. “If
you’ve made it 95 yards down the field, and
mediation is the last few yards, the moves