Moez Kaba Talks Diversity, Career with Benchmark Litigation
Benchmark Q & A with Moez Kaba
Moez Kaba is the youngest partner at one of the country’s premier trial boutiques, Hueston Hennigan, a Los Angeles-based shop formed by a group of former Irell & Manella commercial litigation partners. The firm has earned considerable traction in the legal community via some high-stakes and high-profile appointments. Kaba, a co-founder of the firm, reflects both the firm’s approach as well as the cultural and generational shift in the US litigation landscape. In this Q&A with Benchmark’s Michael Rafalowich, he discusses these issues at length.
You are one of the youngest, if not the youngest, partner at your firm, yet you are one of its founders. Was the generational depth a business model mandate upon the formation of the firm or did it just happen organically?
The generational depth at our firm was both by design and by chance. A small core group of us worked together at our prior firm on the most challenging and high-stakes disputes for our business clients, and we valued each other as colleagues and friends. When we decided to launch our own firm, we focused on bringing together a deep bench of young, talented lawyers whose vision for a trial litigation practice aligned with ours. For us, that vision is to take on tough and interesting cases for commercial and public and quasi-public clients while maintaining a commitment to pro bono work. We focus heavily on training young attorneys so that everyone is prepared, and feels confident in front of judges and juries. I’m the youngest partner, but not the youngest lawyer at the firm by far. Our most senior partner, name partner Brian Hennigan, graduated law school 30 years before me. Our other named partner, John Hueston, graduated law school in the 1990’s and is one of the best trial lawyers in the country. That speaks to type of firm we are – we have tried to match vigor and new approaches with experience and perspective. Ours is a tough practice, a demanding practice, with creative, hard-working people on teams that span the generational spectrum. And I think this sort of diversity more and more mirrors the legal departments of our clients.
It seems as though your generation of litigators is not only bringing a fresh perspective in terms of age but it also seems to be a notably more diverse crop than that of 15 or even 10 years ago. Have you noticed more diversity among younger partners?
Definitely. There are so many lawyers within and outside of my firm that represent every nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. For me, personally, it’s really exciting to see so many terrific lawyers who look different and have different experiences but share in their passion for the law and excel in advocacy. I think that’s also a product of law schools and the firms themselves, both of which are fostering a more diverse recruiting environment. This is also driven by client demand. Clients are increasingly putting their money where their mouths are and holding firms accountable for assembling diverse teams. You see the same thing at the U.S. Attorney’s office. What’s most promising to me is that these are the people who will get jobs in government and be appointed to the bench. Diversity in law firms today results in more diverse public leadership tomorrow. I am proud, however, that Hueston Hennigan’s partnership itself is majority diverse.
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