Solomon Saltsman & Jamieson
attorneys define ‘zealous advocacy’

From left: Ryan Kroll, R. Bruce Evans, Stephen Jamieson, Ralph Saltsman, Jennifer Oden | Justin L. Stewart / Special to the Daily Journal

By Shane Nelson
Special to the Daily Journal

Stephen A. Jamieson’s colleagues are accustomed to receiving work emails from the longtime trial attorney at unusual hours.

“He’s famous in our firm for sending emails out at everything from 6 a.m. in the morning to maybe 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. in the morning sometimes,” his partner R. Bruce Evans said with a chuckle. “And even when he’s on vacation, you’re still getting emails from Steve because he lives and breathes being an attorney and never leaves it completely behind — even when he is outside of work. He always brings that energy, and he’s a great lawyer because of it.”

Partner Jennifer L. Oden agreed. “When you think of an attorney, and you hear the term ‘zealous advocate,’ you think of someone like Steve Jamieson,” Oden said. “He throws himself into absolutely every case. You’re always getting the best of Steve Jamieson.”

Headquartered in Playa Del Rey, Solomon Saltsman & Jamieson was launched in the late 1980s, and the 10-attorney boutique has operated with a stable collection of partners throughout much of its existence, according to Jamieson.

“A lot of lawyers don’t enjoy what they do,” Jamieson said. “One of the reasons that our partnership has lasted so long, and been so successful and effective, is we enjoy what we’re doing, and we really enjoy working together.”

Much of the firm’s work focuses on Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) cases, including litigation, licensing, permitting and land use-related matters involving alcohol and liquor law.

“We also represented First Amendment ABC cases,” another of the firm’s founders, partner Ralph B. Saltsman, said about the firm’s caseload in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “There were times when our clients were both ABC clients and the officers who arrested them.”

The boutique’s practice areas have expanded over the years to now also include personal injury cases, internet and casino gaming law and employment matters.

“We’ve represented everybody from mom-and-pop convenience stores, Fortune 100 oil companies to the Catholic Church and The Getty,” Evans said. “Everything from the church to museums to grocery stores to gas stations, movie theaters and sports venues.”

Oden noted, meanwhile, that her administrative ABC law and related land use practice often requires substantial relationship building.

“What I really like is the strategy associated with it from a business perspective,” she explained. “Working with local community stakeholders, such as neighborhood councils or planning commissioners or city planners or city council members — and really bringing the By Shane Nelson
Special to the Daily Journal Solomon Saltsman & Jamieson attorneys define ‘zealous advocacy’ MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2023 entire process together, so the local jurisdiction understands the entity or business that’s coming in, and the business understands the expectations of the local jurisdiction.”

Partner Ryan M. Kroll, who is based in the firm’s Portland, Oregon office, now tackles a large chunk of the litigation practice along with Jamieson.

“What we’ve found is we work really well together and enjoy working together,” Kroll said of Jamieson. “And our clients get the benefit of having two different people with two different perspectives looking at things. And usually, if the two of us can agree on some thing as a plan of attack and strategy, it typically comes out pretty well for the client.”

Kroll pointed to a case he and Jamieson tried in October 2016 to illustrate how the firm’s expertise in ABC law has paid off for past clients. In that matter, the firm represented a man who was pushed out of his wine business by his father and uncle and subsequently sued them for fraud, civil conspiracy and defamation, among other allegations. J. Hamilton Wines Inc. v. Hamilton et al., 56-2014-00456089 (Ventura Super. Ct., filed Jan. 8, 2015).

“Prior to coming to us, our client spoke to several other lawyers that only saw this as a family squabble and not worthy of a lawsuit,” Kroll said. “In the context of an alcohol licensee, when someone comes in and pushes out an owner — even if they’re related — that’s a real problem in a highly regulated industry. So that’s what jumped out to us, and we thought it was pretty interesting and really wrong.”

The trial jury initially awarded $915,000 in compensatory damages to the plaintiff and entered a verdict ruling that the son was also entitled to punitive damages against his father and uncle, according to Kroll. The firm ultimately settled the case for a total of $1.8 million before moving into the punitive damages phase scheduled for the following day, Kroll said.

“With our alcohol background, we knew you can’t have a false ownership with an alcohol licensee,” Kroll explained. “So we were able to get involved, and with a little bit of creativity, we were able to get a pretty good verdict, given that the wine business was just starting off and they really had no history of making a profit.”

Newport Beach defense attorney Curtis C. Holmes II has opposed Solomon Saltsman & Jamieson on several cases over the years, and he described them as a good group and very professional.

“When I see Jamieson’s name, or his firm’s name, show up on my phone, it always puts a smile on my face,” Holmes said with a chuckle. “They’re easy to work with, cooperative. … And Jamieson just overall makes the experience pleasant, and you definitely don’t always get that with opposing counsel.”

Holmes noted, however, that the firm — and Jamieson especially — is no pushover.

“I know I’m going to have my hands full,” Holmes said of opposing the boutique. “And there’s not a lot of fluff with Jamieson. He cuts to the chase, and he knows his cases well. Even though, as a defense attorney, I may not go along with his assessment, I can appreciate it, and I see where he’s coming from. He’s not making this stuff out of whole cloth. … And he’ll certainly take his cases to trial, but it will be a good, fair fight, and that’s all you can ask for.”

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