On January 2, 1885, 26-year-old Henry O’Melveny and 32-year-old Jackson Graves formed the firm of Graves & O’Melveny “for the purpose of practicing Law at the City of Los Angeles,” which at the time was undergoing a transformation that would take it from dusty cattle ranching town to bustling metropolis. What is now the oldest law firm in Los Angeles, the firm would undergo nine name changes—always including the name O’Melveny—before becoming O’Melveny & Myers in 1939. Today, this former two-man practice is an international, 800-lawyer firm with 18 offices in the world’s financial and political centers.
The firm’s rise to national and international prominence owes much to the founders and distinguished lawyers who followed in their footsteps, and their vision informs O’Melveny’s culture to this day. O’Melveny always has been anchored by a focus on client service, dedication to excellence, and deep sense of civic responsibility. Through the years, the firm has not wavered in its steadfast commitment to listen to our clients, build long-term relationships with them, and serve as true partners to help achieve their business goals.
In addition, the leadership of O’Melveny’s late senior partner and former chair Warren Christopher, whose distinguished career in public service is well known, was a guiding force in O'Melveny's diversity, pro bono, and community service efforts. Mr. Christopher, who passed away on March 18, 2011, remains a source of inspiration for those endeavors and to everyone in the firm as we work together as “One O’Melveny."
1885, Firm founded as Graves & O’Melveny
Over the course of his 60-year career in the law, Henry O’Melveny was instrumental in helping Los Angeles grow from a small frontier village to a major metropolis.
Early 1900s, Pivotal Irrigation Transactions and Water Litigation Support LA’s Growth
Businessman William G. Kerckhoff and his San Gabriel Power and Midway Gas Companies were clients of the firm for some 20 years, beginning with transactions related to his pioneering work harnessing hydroelectric power and delivering natural gas power to Los Angeles.
1930s, In Hollywood’s Golden Age, O’Melveny Enters the Entertainment Arena
The firm begins advising Columbia Broadcast System and representing A-list actors like Bing Crosby.
1939, Firm Becomes O’Melveny & Myers
Judge Louis W. Myers served as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court before joining the firm. During his illustrious career as a partner, Judge Myers focused on appellate court litigation, handling such important cases as NLRB v. Mackay Radio before the US Supreme Court, and won 90% of them.
1940s, Firm Represents Defense Contractors
During WWII, O’Melveny represents major defense contractors Lockheed, Northrop, and California Institute of Technology.
1950, Warren Christopher Joins Firm
The future secretary of state joins the firm, which he would one day lead as chair. Later Christopher cites O’Melveny’s open atmosphere, saying “it was very welcoming to me.”
1950s, Firm Negotiates Dodgers’ Move
Walter O’Malley taps the firm to represent him in a contract dispute over the Brooklyn Dodgers’ move to LA, ending with a state Supreme Court ruling allowing Dodger Stadium to be built.
1970, Century City Office Opens
As Century City rose from the old movie back lot of Twentieth Century Fox Studios to become a major commercial district, O’Melveny set up shop there to better serve its clients.
1970s, Firm Takes on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
The firm wins its first engagement related to Trans-Alaska Pipeline, bringing suit on behalf of Alyeska covering US$4 million in claims arising from defective protective tape on all 400 miles of pipeline.
1976, Washington, DC Office Established
Many of O’Melveny’s DC lawyers have served in senior government leadership positions or as counsel to community, educational and public interest organizations.
1977, Former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr., Joins Firm
Coleman becomes the firm’s first lateral partner since Judge Louis W. Myers 50 years earlier, and its first African-American partner.
1979, Newport Beach Office Opens
The Newport Beach office is home to the firm’s Life Sciences and Medical Technology Practice.
1983, New York Office Established
Located in the heart of Times Square, O’Melveny’s New York office counsels sophisticated, industry-leading clients.
1980s, Firm Takes on Coordinated Asbestos Insurance Coverage Cases
INA Corp. (which later becomes CIGNA) retains O’Melveny to defend against actions by numerous asbestos manufacturers in the decade’s largest asbestos-related dispute. Several years into the complex litigation, O’Melveny advises INA on settlement talks leading to the landmark Wellington Agreement.
1986, London Office Opens
O'Melveny's London office represents prominent private equity houses, financial institutions and corporate clients.
1987, Tokyo Office Established
The team in Japan includes bengoshi (licensed Japanese lawyers), allowing the firm to advise Japanese and foreign clients on US and Japanese law.
1988, San Francisco Office Opens
San Francisco lawyers use an interdisciplinary approach to help clients —innovative technology companies and leading financial institutions— with their business challenges.
1994, Hong Kong Office Established
Lawyers in the Hong Kong office practice US and Hong Kong law, with most speaking fluent English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese.
1990’s, Firm Helps Complete Historic Public Works Deal
O’Melveny represented the Cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles and their joint authority, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority, in one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken in the US—a US$2.4 billion, 20-mile, high-speed freight rail corridor linking the nation’s two largest ports with the intercontinental rail system.
1996, Shanghai Office Opens
O’Melveny is one of the largest and oldest foreign law offices in Shanghai.
2000s, Firm Takes Exxon’s Fight to SCOTUS
For ExxonMobil, the Firm wins a Supreme Court decision eliminating almost US$4.5 billion from the original US$5 billion punitive damages verdict in the Valdez case and establishing a new maritime law punitive damages standard.
2001, Silicon Valley Office Established
From offices at the top of Silicon Valley’s storied Sand Hill Road, lawyers in O’Melveny’s Silicon Valley office work with technology companies and investors to support growth at every stage of the corporate life cycle.
2003, Beijing Office Opens
O’Melveny was one of the first US law firms to set up in mainland China.
2004, Brussels Office Established
O’Melveny’s Brussels office helps clients navigate EU and national competition law, as well as trade and sector regulation.
2008, Singapore Office Opens
From its hub in Singapore, O’Melveny provides broad transactional and dispute resolution support for client needs in Southeast Asia.
2012, Seoul Office Established
O’Melveny ranks among the most active international law firms in South Korea, representing clients in antitrust investigations, patent litigation, and M&A.
2015, Firm Celebrates 130th Anniversary
2021, Austin Office Established
To better support its clients and capitalize on key firm strengths, O’Melveny expanded its footprint into Texas by adding an office in Austin. The Austin team includes lawyers regionally and nationally recognized for their work in M&A, investment transactions, project and infrastructure development, state and federal government and regulatory matters, and patent, trade secrets, and antitrust litigation.
2021, Dallas Office Established
Just three weeks after launching an Austin office—its first in Texas—O’Melveny opened its Dallas office, home to a team of high-profile restructuring, litigation, and corporate legal advisors serving clients in sectors that include energy, consumer products, hospitality, life sciences, technology, and financial services.
2022, Houston Office Established
Continuing its expansion in Texas, O’Melveny opened an office in Houston in May 2022—its third new office in the state in just ten months—with a team possessing first-rate M&A, private equity, capital markets, and finance experience.