I’ve always envisioned my career including a teaching component

A Conversation With Jerry Grossman On Lessons Learned & His Life In The Law

As the month of June quickly unfolds, Fennemore is featuring our high-profile Real Estate practice group, and one of our newest attorneys, Jerry Grossman who works out of our San Diego office. Jerry possesses a wealth of experience in real estate finance law, and has represented clients in a broad range of general commercial and real estate finance matters for more than 30 years.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Jerry as he reflects on his career in the legal profession – while also looking forward.

As we continue to welcome the remarkable attorneys at our new Southern California offices, this week we’re happy to turn the spotlight on Jerry Grossman, who works out of our San Diego office! How are things going during the transition? And what’s your vision for the future as we continue to grow in Southern California?

The transition is going very well.  Being able to call on the expertise of folks in other offices—for example, both Cathy Reece, who is currently helping to restructure a bond issuance for a major client, and C.W. Ross, who stepped in on a potential acquisition for that same client—has been a blessing.  And just this week, a request for recommendations for an institutional trustee for a small bond issuance has produced several helpful responses. 

My vision for the future includes there being a larger office in San Diego, and having the opportunity to mentor someone—to pass on the things I’ve learned about commercial and real estate finance (and ensure that my clients have quality representation in the future).  I’ve always envisioned my career including a teaching component.

Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on in the real estate and business and finance sectors?

I’m currently working on several projects with a green energy company that is a pioneer in the food waste-to-renewable natural gas arena.  They are developing new facilities, or upgrading existing ones—and operating them—both here in the United States and around the world.

What would you tell your younger self – or a 1L at the Cal Berkeley School of Law now contemplating a career in the legal profession?

Transactional law exists–and bringing a cooperative attitude to the table (or screen) can help you achieve the best results for your client. Also, unlike much litigation, transactions typically have a beginning, a middle, and an end that are within sight of each other on the calendar.

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

I can’t really choose one. Three of the major influences on my legal career have been:

  • The Hon. Edward J. Schwartz, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in San Diego, for whom I clerked after graduating from law school and who stressed the importance of treating everyone with respect.
  • Steve Weise–UCC, general commercial law, and opinions maven (currently a partner with Proskauer Rose)–from whom I learned much over several years as his colleague at Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe and through participation in professional associations.
  • John McNeece (now retired from Pillsbury Winthrop), who on two different occasions hired me to practice commercial and real estate finance law at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, and was an all-round great colleague and friend.

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

Not exactly a failure, but the decision that has had the greatest impact on my career:  turning down partnership at Heller Ehrman in 1989 to move my family back to San Diego. (My mother-in-law had died a few years earlier; my father-in-law was starting to age; and my wife, Mary, really wanted to be in San Diego to help her sisters provide him with support.) 

It would be 15 years before another firm made me partner. On a personal level, it was the right decision to have made, but it cost me professionally. What did I learn?  Never look back—but don’t burn bridges.  (Two of the firms I’ve been with have hired me twice.)  How did I pick up the pieces?  I kept plugging away, focusing on perfecting my skills and on serving my clients to the best of my ability.  My relationships with my clients continue to make my practice enjoyable on a day-to-day basis.

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?             

Worst (back in 1980):  “San Francisco is a dying market.  All the good work is moving to Los Angeles.”

Best (from my cousin, who had gone to Yale Law School):  “Unless you plan to work east of the Mississippi after graduation, don’t go to Yale—go to Berkeley.”

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming?

Podcasts:  numerous (on my daily commute), including “Word Matters” (Merriam-Webster), “Throughline,” “Code Switch,” “Radiolab,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “There’s No Such Thing as a Fish,” “The Sarah Silverman Podcast,” and “Savage Lovecast,”

Reading:  Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson,  Recently finished:  The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson.  Scheduled to start:  American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins.  Most often re-read:  The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Much-loved:  Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Theodore Sturgeon, Langston Hughes.

Watching/streaming:  British/New Zealand murder mysteries (“Death in Paradise,” “Brokenwood Mysteries”) and British game shows (“Richard Osman’s House of Games,” “Q.I.”)

I know you’re an inveterate proofreader and editor! How did you acquire this skill? And how has this attention to detail informed your practice – and life in the legal profession?

I think it’s innate—and a little bit of a compulsion.  Even when reading for pleasure, I can’t help but proofread.  It’s led to nearly a decade of service on the Editorial Board of the California Business Law Section’s “Business Law News,” including four years as Editor-in-Chief, as well as to active participation in the drafting of several opinion reports and related articles.  (My apologies for typos that, even now, survive my own scrutiny.)

Many thanks to Jerry, and all of the new attorneys and allied legal professionals in our new Southern California offices who are already making an impact on our clients’ businesses, and in the communities where we live and serve.

For more information on our Real Estate practice group, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/real-estate/

And for more information on our Business & Finance practice group, please see: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/business-and-finance/

Get MORE. Insights

Stay ahead in the legal world – subscribe now to receive the latest insights and news from Fennemore Law Directly in your inbox!