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Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (center) with Eugene Ramirez (left) and Steve Manning (right) at the Kiesel Advocacy Center dedication ceremony in April 2013

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (center) with Eugene Ramirez (left) and Steve Manning (right) at the Kiesel Advocacy Center dedication ceremony in April 2013

Whittier Alumni Build One of the Nation's Largest Firms

Steve Manning, Class of 1979 - Managing Partner Eugene Ramirez, Class of 1987 - Practice Area Leader, Public Entity Defense Team

FIRM: Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP

PAST CLIENTS: McDonald's, Nordstrom, Target, County of San Bernardino

SIZE: 140 attorneys in five offices

AWARDS: Named by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's largest law firms (#288)

Sky diving. Motorcycle rides through the Baja desert. These are not typical outings for law firms. "We all need to test ourselves and face our fears head on. In the process, we will find we are all stronger than we realize," says Steve Manning, the firm's founder. "We will be able to face any adversity and not only survive, but excel."

Nineteen years ago, Steve Manning decided to start his own firm because he had a vision of practicing law with friends in a fun and supportive environment. He and 13 other attorneys, including fellow Whittier alumnus Eugene Ramirez, started Manning & Marder in 1994. Today, the firm is one of the largest in California, now called Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP.

At its inception, the firm's main practice areas were insurance defense and municipality defense. Today the firm is full-service, representing well-known clients such as McDonald's, Nordstrom and Target. M&KERT also has an appellate practice with several published decisions from the California Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Plans for Growth
The firm has grown immensely, with four offices in California and one in Arizona. Even greater expansion is in the works. "We have plans to become more of a national firm. We have received inquiries from clients to open offices in other states such as Nevada, Texas and Illinois," says Ramirez.

Ramirez says that the daredevil events have contributed to the firm's success. "We set up events that challenge us and help us to form the long-lasting bonds that contribute to our growth."

Whittier Contributed to Success
Manning and Ramirez attribute a portion of the firm's success to their law school experience at Whittier. "We all learned to think and write critically; we learned the law and how to apply the law to the facts of the case," says Ramirez. He adds, "We also learned to work hard, yet play hard and to maintain a balance in life. We continue that today." The firm hires Whittier Law School alumni as associates and students as externs.