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Triple Threat. Rizio Liberty Lipinsky

Consumer, Victim and Employee Attorneys Unite to Create Modern, Statewide Consumer Law Firm

On the heels of U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Law Firm Rankings for Rizio Law Firm in Riverside and Orange County, Liberty Law in Oakland and San Francisco, and Lipinsky Law in San Bernardino County, the firms' respective founders announced a much bigger win for plaintiffs, employees, and victims. After years of friendship, solidified through the three powerhouse attorneys' significant involvement in the Consumer Attorneys of California, Greg Rizio, Micha Liberty and Daren Lipinsky announced that they were pooling their expertise, passion, resources, and numerous offices throughout Northern and Southern California to create Rizio Liberty Lipinsky, a "modern, statewide plaintiff's firm," says Rizio.
"Together we have triple the legal know-how, triple the resources, and a much broader reach," says Liberty, the firm's female partner who is based in Northern California. Lipinsky concurs, adding, "Individually, we are used to facing bigger firms. But there is strength in numbers and our union, together with the teams we each bring, will enable us to offer even better representation to our clients." To put it mildly, the three are more than up to the task of challenging statewide and/or national corporate and insurance defense firms, on behalf of victims of personal injury, civil rights abuses, and unjust legal practices spanning from Mexico to Oregon.

Individual Successes, Unified Vision for California
It was no coincidence that the three attorneys chose to announce the launch of Rizio Liberty Lipinsky on the first day of the 57th Annual Consumer Attorneys of California convention in San Francisco. After all, each attorney has devoted substantial time and effort to the organization which represents the interests of 39 million Californians. In fact, Liberty was sworn in as the 2019 – 2020 President-Elect of CAOC during the convention and was also honored by the CAOC Women's Caucus with its Woman Consumer Advocate of the Year Award. Greg Rizio became the organization's Fourth Vice President—who will serve as CAOC's President for the 2022 – 2023 term. Lipinsky proved instrumental in assisting in the passage of SB820, which bars secret settlements in sexual harassment and sexual assault cases, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the request of Senator Connie Leyva and CAOC. He currently serves on the Board of Governors for the organization.

Indeed, the road to unity for the three attorneys was born of necessity—not for themselves, but to reach those who need the sheer might, reach, and bandwidth that RLL now offers. "There are statewide defense firms, but you don't see many plaintiffs' firms with a truly statewide presence," Rizio says. And he is right in his assessment, as it is unusual to see well-established powerhouse plaintiff firms coming together to form a new firm. In doing so, Rizio, Liberty and Lipinsky have become trailblazers.
"We know that there is a difference between how law is practiced in Northern California and Southern California," says Rizio. "We recognized that people who need a firm of this caliber are missing out. We also saw that all of the 'specialization' that firms are focused on can shortchange victims. Even the Bar is designed for separation and distinction between practice areas. We don't see these divides as helpful."
Continuing he said, "Instead, we believe that there is strength in numbers, strength in experience, strength in having Northern and Southern California attorneys, strength in fighting for victims of various types of injustices, and strength in the fact that all great trial attorneys have great teams working with them. That's why RLL was formed. We knew that by coming together we could provide a powerful voice for not only victims of catastrophic injury, but for victims of assault, abuse, workplace harassment, and discrimination, wherever we are needed. RLL pools skills, strategy, resources, offices, and teams to best represent our clients, wherever they are in California."
That experience—which includes record-setting successes, positive legislative change for plaintiffs, and headline-grabbing results—that each attorney brings to the firm could fill volumes. Rizio, for example, is best known for his remarkable trial skills in personal injury cases. Rizio secured the largest ever plaintiff's verdict in Riverside County, for a 25-year-old man who was severely injured in a car accident

on a freeway in Riverside County. At nearly $58 Million, Rizio's victory for the young man in 2014 was the highest personal injury award in the state, and the second highest personal injury award in the nation for that year. As the result, Rizio was awarded the industry's "Litigator's Award," which is given only to the top 1% of attorneys nationwide. He also received awards such as The Inland Empire Bar Association's "Attorney of the Year," and CAOC recognized him as California's "Trial Lawyer of the Year" for 2015. Not surprisingly, Rizio maintains an AV-Preeminent Rating, a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating, and has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and is an active member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).
Likewise, Liberty has no shortage of noteworthy successes to her credit. As Founder of Liberty Law in Oakland, she's spent her career "giving a voice to the voiceless," including victims of catastrophic injury, as well as victims of abuse, including child sexual abuse, racial discrimination, police misconduct, and those suffering from workplace harassment and discrimination. Liberty made headlines in 2015, after holding the Contra Costa County School District accountable for a child sexual molestation case in which school officials were aware of the abuse and took no action. As the result of her victory, CAOC presented her with the "Street Fighter of the Year" award. Liberty has also received more than a dozen additional awards including being named a "Top 100 Attorney" by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, being named a "Top Forty Under Forty" by the National Trial Lawyers and inclusion in the list of "The Top Women Attorneys in Northern California," by San Francisco Magazine. As an award-winning employment lawyer, Lipinsky's cases frequently include confidential settlements; however, his notable public successes on behalf of employees include securing more than $3 Million in an NASD Arbitration, which included $1.65 Million in monies received by virtue of voided promissory notes. This award represented one of the largest such awards in NASD/FINRA history. Lipinsky also championed employees from a manufacturing company, who sued their employer when they discovered a surveillance device in a workplace restroom. In Doe 1, et al. v. ABC Corporation Lipinsky secured a $6,500,000 settlement. Lipinsky has earned prestigious recognition and awards including the California Employment Lawyers Association's "Distinguished Litigation Results" Award in 2013 and has been named a "California Whistleblower Attorney of the Year" by Corp. International Magazine each year since 2014. Lipinsky has also been named a CAOC "Streetfighter of the Year" Finalist, and a "Top 100 Trial Lawyer" by the The National Trial Lawyers.

Friendship, Respect as Foundation of the Firm
Beyond the shared vision of how plaintiffs deserve to be represented in California, Rizio, Liberty and Lipinsky point to their lasting friendships and sincere respect for one another as the foundation upon which the vision for the new firm was built. "I have tremendous respect for Micha and Greg, as individuals, and attorneys. They are definitely great lawyers, but they are even better people," says Lipinsky. Rizio seconds that emotion. "We have all been highly involved in CAOC over the years, and we share the same commitment to protecting the people of California. We are all in this together, like a family. One of the reasons I'm so excited is that I couldn't think of a better 'brother' and 'sister' to have than Daren and Micha." According to Liberty, "I've known Daren since high school, and Greg for at least a decade. When we began talking about partnering, it made so much sense. I didn't just respect them as attorneys. I respect them as business owners, and I love who they are as people. We all focus on the harm done to the human being in our cases. Greg litigates on what happened to the person, what happened to the family dynamics as the result of an injury. Daren artfully litigates on how abuse by an employer, or by someone more powerful, impacts the individual. All three of us firmly believe that our job is to redirect justice after a harm."

Lipinsky and Rizio's friendship has also stood the test of time, beginning when they litigated against one another years ago. As the self-proclaimed "old man in the firm," Rizio recalls his first impression of Lipinsky being one of an "honest, hard-charging, young attorney." The two have since worked together, with Rizio serving as Of Counsel to Lipinsky Law for years. However, both Rizio and Lipinsky agree that Liberty was the missing link to launching the new firm. "Micha is exactly who we needed in order to meet the changing dynamics of the legal landscape in California. She's a terrific lawyer, who is based in Northern California, she has had incredible success in fighting for injured victims, employees, and victims of sexual assault and harassment. We also know that some victims prefer working with a woman. There are sensitive issues in both personal injury cases and sexual assault and abuse cases that clients would rather talk with a woman about, and Daren and I recognize that. We knew in order for this to become the kind of law firm that would provide plaintiffs with everything they need, we needed Micha."

United Front: A New Kind of California Consumer Firm

As Rizio, Liberty and Lipinsky usher in the New Year as a united front, they are most looking forward to what their team will be able to do for all of the people in California. "We are going to continue to work with legislature that will protect employees and consumers," says Rizio. "And we will continue to take cases to court, when we can't reach a fair settlement," he says. "I'll try almost any case. But all good trial lawyers need teams. If we're taking an employment case to trial, I need Daren beside me, and if we're taking a sexual abuse, or discrimination case to trial, I need Micha beside me. This is how we will better serve the people of California—as a team of partners fighting for them."
To that end, the trio will also provide bilingual services. Moreover, it is the attorneys' hope that more victims of sexual abuse and harassment come to find staunch allies and fearless advocates at Rizio Liberty Lipinsky. "When I went on my own 18 years ago, I lost cases because the clients wanted an 'aggressive' lawyer," Liberty says. "I am one of the most aggressive lawyers I know, but clients still wanted a man. I think that has switched in the new #metoo landscape. More sunlight is shining on these cases of abuse and harassment, and I'm thrilled to work on these cases with Daren and Greg. We are all fluent in trauma, we all focus on the implications that abuse, assault, injury, or discrimination has had on that person's life."
Additionally, the attorneys agree that the pooled efforts, experience, skill, and reach will also enable them to take on more cases including wage and hour class actions. "We are dedicated to reaching underserved populations, who have been taken advantage of," says Rizio. In the end, it's not about what RLL as a new firm will do for its partners. It's always going to be about the clients. "Joining forces is a natural fit for us," says Lipinsky. "Corporate and insurance defense will not be able to overpower us. We're leveling the playing field." As far as how the firm will grow and evolve over time? There are no concrete plans, or specific benchmarks that any of the attorneys feel compelled to reach. "Our plan is to replicate what we've already done individually, but on a bigger scale, as a team," Rizio says. "We just want every client who works with us to say, "Boy, those people love what they do. They really do care and they served us well. That's all that we have ever wanted to do, and it's what we'll continue to do: serve those who need us."

Will Mullins
Business Manager
Rizio Liberty Lipinsky
2677 North Main Street, Suite 225
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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