Many Ways to Make a Difference

As we look back at another interesting year, we're pleased at the progress we've made but acknowledge we'll never be satisfied. We continue to make strides to live our core values every day. Putting action to these guiding principles inspires us. With countless ways each day to make a difference, we reflect on a few moments in our 2023 story.

Thinking about the future inspires awe at what might be, all the possibilities and opportunities. In a more practical sense, manifesting the future we want takes focus, effort and leadership. Effective leadership – at all levels – is a critical element in building a strong and cohesive Nossaman. In 2023, we empowered a new generation of leaders, giving voice to a host of new perspectives and ideas we know will result in powerful action.

As a firm, we embrace the power of inclusion and promote diversity in all its forms. As individuals, we have unique stories to tell about how we live this value. Whether internally, externally, locally, regionally or globally, action speaks volumes. We are fortunate to have members of our Nossaman family actively participating in efforts and organizations dedicated to giving voice to, and putting into action, the belief that more inclusion and greater diversity is the best way forward.

We are privileged that much of our work with clients helps meet critical needs in communities across the country. Our commitment to "Do Good Things" reflects our passion and guides our involvement and investment in organizations making life better for others. Like ripples in a pond, we believe sharing a few of these stories will inspire others to act.

We hope you enjoy reading a part of our 2023 story. We continue to believe that the next chapter will be the best yet.

To be continued...


Leadership, at all levels, is the glue keeping everyone at Nossaman connected and focused on our goals while helping clients achieve theirs. Like many of our clients, Nossaman has made diversity, equity and inclusion key elements of our overall strategy. We recognize that more diversity in our leadership roles leads to more diversity throughout the firm.

Welcoming the Next Generation of Leaders

One of the critical responsibilities of every leader is to identify and develop the next generation, including their eventual successor. Last year was one of change within Nossaman, witnessing the election of a new managing partner and installation of a number of new group leaders. We are proud that these exceptional individuals are helping shape our future and develop the next generation of talent. Ultimately, our law firm is committed to doing what’s best for our clients and we believe that means a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Nossaman.


In April, we proudly announced the election of David Graeler as Nossaman’s new managing partner. David joined Nossaman in 2003 and became the first minority managing partner in our Firm’s 80+ year history.

Speaking with press at the time, outgoing Managing Partner George Joseph said, “David has an unparalleled understanding of the constantly shifting legal landscape and of the importance of delivering value to clients across a wide spectrum of practices. He is an effective leader and strategic thinker. I have the utmost confidence Nossaman will reach even greater heights under his stewardship, while continuing to offer exceptional service to clients and making a difference in our communities.”

David brings a well-rounded perspective to the managing partner role, having risen through the ranks from an associate to positions serving as chair of the Firm’s Litigation Department, co-chair of the Real Estate Group and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee.

I am humbled by the tremendous level of trust the partnership has placed in me and I am excited and energized to lead the Firm.” – David Graeler, Managing Partner

Both the Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ ) and Law360 highlighted David’s role as Nossaman’s first minority managing partner. When Law360 asked David about the significance of being the first minority to serve in the role, he remarked, “When it comes to being the first diverse managing partner in the firm's history, I think it's progress. I think it's a sign that Nossaman has really emphasized giving people with diverse backgrounds opportunities to succeed.“ David continued the discussion, noting that 60% of the Firm’s leaders are diverse.

Two of David’s highest priorities as managing partner are attracting strong, diverse talent who will benefit from Nossaman’s platform and add value to the Firm’s culture and clients, as well as developing and promoting the next generation of legal and professional talent.

David has nearly 25 years of trial experience as a go-to litigator for both plaintiffs and defendants. He excels at resolving complex business disputes both inside and outside the courtroom. When speaking with the LABJ, David stressed, “I very much enjoy practicing law and I didn’t want to stop doing what I enjoy. It’s also good for the firm if the managing partner still has a connection to the business of a law firm in a direct way. Based on my due diligence, I felt I could do it and do it well.” David has twice been recognized by the LABJ as one of the region’s “Most Influential Minority Attorneys,” most recently in 2023, and was one of LABJ’s “Top 100” Lawyers in 2022. Additionally, David has been highlighted as a “Commercial Real Estate Visionary” by the Los Angeles Times; a “Litigation Pioneer” by National Law Journal; and as “California Lawyer of the Year” by the Daily Journal.

In closing comments with Law360, David addressed what has kept him at Nossaman for two decades, pointing out, “It's really a firm with genuinely good and nice people who are also exceptional practitioners. As a midsized firm, we work on very interesting matters, similar at times to the ones big firms handle, but also with the flexibility to work on smaller matters.” In the same vein, during a separate interview with the LABJ, David noted that Nossaman does not “have any intention of growing beyond a mid-size firm [and is] growing in areas that are our cores, what we’re known for.”  He added, “There are not that many midsize firms around these days. There’s been so much consolidation of midsize firms and not many of them have been around as long as we have.”

Additional information about this exciting change is available here:


In 2023, Nossaman was pleased to name six new practice chairs to lead key groups across the Firm. These partners, working in concert with existing leadership in other groups, are strategizing to deliver value for clients, develop new service offerings, expand capabilities and develop talent. New group leaders who took the helm in 2023 included:

Full coverage of these moves is available here:


We've all heard it; actions speak louder than words. We believe it's important to recognize those who put effort behind their intentions. We proudly spotlight three of our Nossaman action heroes who dug in and made a difference in very impactful ways.


Artin Shaverdian | Office Administrative Partner | Los Angeles

In 2023, the Ministry of Justice and the High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs of Armenia put together the Armenian National Lawyers Forum (Forum)—a sort of “first lawyers’ assembly.” The Forum’s organizers worked through the global network of Armenian bar associations to identify and invite lawyers from different parts of the world with different areas of expertise to participate in a multiday conference and knowledge-sharing discussion. Nossaman's Artin Shaverdian was invited to share his knowledge of real estate issues related to infrastructure development, land use and environmental laws. 

Collectively, the speakers addressed a variety of issues they believe Armenia needs to tackle. The Forum separated attendees into smaller breakout groups to provide lawyers time to share their expertise and experiences. Artin was asked to join two groups: the legislative reform workshop that included several members of the Armenian Parliament and the Ministry of Justice and a group focused on creating an arbitration center in Armenia to help establish trust amongst the country’s business and professional community.

The legislative reform discussion revolved around transparency and public comment on rule making bodies. In the United States, federal agencies are afforded authority to regulate certain activities by establishing regulations. Such rule making bodies are required to publish and receive comments on proposed new regulations and rule changes, providing valuable input from stakeholders and other segments of the population before new regulations are finalized. Armenia does not yet have such a system. Artin and the legislative reform breakout group are helping guide Parliament establish legislation so that regulatory agencies delegated authority to make rules will utilize a similar online portal where proposed draft rules can be published, enabling stakeholders as well as those with expertise from the diaspora located in countries with similar legislation and rules to help review and provide comment.

Artin and the group addressing limited arbitration resources were presented with a different challenge. Presently, parties bidding on and constructing large private and public projects often stipulate to go outside of Armenia to review and settle disputes. Those involved in large infrastructure projects – particularly local companies – would prefer a center on their own soil where these disputes can be adjudicated. Armenia has recently created the Armenia Center for Dispute Resolution (ACDR) whose mission and purpose is to develop and promote the practice of arbitration and mediation in all aspects of Armenia’s legal community. The center is in its infancy at the moment. Artin and other attorneys from around the world provided valuable input during the conference and continue to work with ACDR on building capacity for ADR practice in Armenia, including amending relevant legislation, recruiting and training neutrals, training the legal community, educating the public and marketing Armenia as a seat of arbitration. The effort is growing, and Artin is proud to offer ongoing consultation in the center’s formation.

Working to enhance transparency, expand local capabilities and provide Armenians a greater voice is a tremendous honor for Artin. Read more about his journey to give back and learn about what fuels Artin’s passion for Armenia.


Kimberly Kamkar | Associate | Los Angeles

The Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) has been for me both a refuge and a source of empowerment. I joined my first WLALA event while I was still in law school—it was the first networking event I attended where the people seemed to take a genuine interest in me. I was hooked. So, after graduating, I returned to the organization in search of connections within the legal industry. My first job out of law school had me second-guessing some pivotal things and I was looking for ideas, inspiration, support...anything. And I found those answers at WLALA.

The sage advice to "be yourself" has served me well. Long before being officially invited to join any WLALA committees or assume any leadership roles in the legal industry, I had strong ideas and the desire to voice them. But I was never actually sure if I was supposed to speak up in certain settings and, at the time, I didn’t know very many people; however, one-by-one, WLALA members stood behind me, supported me, listened to my ideas and helped push me forward.

Empowerment is an over-used buzzword in many diversity-focused committees, but being a part of WLALA has helped me both as a lawyer and as a person. I went from being tentative, doubting my ideas and questioning my value to leading a team of incredible women. Without the empowering support from WLALA’s leadership, I would never have found myself on the board of directors of WLALA. Helping to promote and advance WLALA’s mission of advocating for and promoting women in the legal profession and maintaining the integrity of the legal system is an honor. Finding ways to support women and encourage diversity is a great concept, but something that takes effort and persistence. WLALA has shown me how important it is to create safe spaces to make sure people feel recognized, valued and have the opportunity to develop their voices.


Maggie Rodarte | Employee Engagement Specialist | Los Angeles

In 2018, a few months after beginning my journey at Nossaman, I was invited to work with the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Committee). At the time, Committee membership was limited to attorneys and policy advisers; however, the mission aligned so well with my personal values that I knew I wanted to be a part of its growth and development.

After initially working with the Committee in an administrative support capacity, my role changed in 2020. We were in the throes of the pandemic—sheltering in-place and working remotely—when George Floyd’s murder shook the country. Amidst protests, increasing social unrest and violence against marginalized groups, Nossaman broadened the scope of the Committee to focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As the Committee ramped up efforts to bring all members of the Firm together to have important conversations, I stepped up my involvement.

The Committee leaned into the remote work situation and developed an educational series called Elevating Awareness. The programming was designed to address current societal issues and cultural events, but would also aim to create a more inclusive, compassionate and representative environment at Nossaman. It was then that I recognized how important it was to enhance my skillset and continue to gain knowledge that would enable me to help guide the Committee and the Firm to achieving its goal.

Beginning in 2021 and into 2022, I attended webinars and conferences specifically focused on DEI efforts and trends. I sought more professional development in the form of enrolling in the DEI Certification course through Cornell University. I was able to complete the six-week-long course in 2023. That experience solidified my belief in the importance of creating diverse, equitable and inclusive work environments. The strategies I learned were immediately and directly applied to the content and programing of Nossaman’s Committee and related affinity groups.

I am so proud to be able to share my knowledge with the Committee and to continue working to keep evolving Nossaman’s approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is a deeply held personal goal to make an impact on the larger legal community by modeling at Nossaman the positive impact equitable representation, psychological safety and economic justice can have on a workforce. I am grateful to Nossaman for supporting and providing me with the opportunity to gain the education and training necessary to accomplish my goal.

As we enter 2024, I am now the co-chair of the Committee’s Historically Underrepresented Groups (HUG) affinity group. Change can take time—or it can happen quickly. During my relatively short tenure at Nossaman, six years and counting, I am proud to be an example of the progress the Firm has made in representation and inclusion.


We're all connected to causes, through family, friends, beliefs and circumstances. We highlight two people who have connections to organizations working to make a difference in lives throughout our communities.


Ashley Walker | Senior Policy Advisor | Sacramento

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the largest nonprofit dedicated to creating a world without blood cancers. Since 1949, they have invested more than $1.7 billion into groundbreaking research to help pioneer many of today’s most innovative cancer-treatment approaches. LLS is at the forefront of the fight to cure blood cancer. They are not only dedicated to curing these cancers, but also to improving the quality of life for patients and their families who are battling these diseases. This is a very personal fight for my family and me.

My son Nolan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) when he was just four years old. Almost immediately after his diagnosis, I was on a hunt to learn everything I could about this type of cancer. It was important to me to make connections with other families and support groups who had been impacted by this type of cancer. Through my research, and at the recommendation of my colleague Fred Dombo in our Washington, DC office, I found LLS.

LLS offers support groups for patients and care givers faced with battling blood and/or lymph system cancers. They are the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable and coordinated care. In addition to providing a wide variety of support resources, LLS is very focused on furthering research to cure these cancers. The more I learned, I knew I wanted to be involved in the organization in some way. That’s where Nossaman came in!

In July of 2023, after Nolan finished his two-and-a-half-year treatment for ALL, I was ready to give back to the cancer community. As co-chair of Nossaman’s Women’s Affinity Group (WAG), we began discussing charities the Firm could become more involved in, focusing on those that meant something special to us through life events we had each experienced. I proposed that the Sacramento office participate in the 2023 Light the Night event hosted by LLS. Light the Night is all about bringing light – awareness – to the darkness of cancer. It is an encouraging and uplifting event that focuses on how far treatments for these cancers have come, while also acknowledging how much work remains to find a cure. Equally important, the event honors those who have lost their lives to the disease.

Nossaman’s participation in Light the Night reminded me that the support I receive from my colleagues extends well beyond my work for the Firm. It reminded me that we all have battles – often ones that no one knows about – and of the importance of getting to know the people we work with for who they are. It reinvigorated my belief that we are more than just colleagues…we are friends.


David Lee | Office Administrative Partner | San Francisco

Quite simply, the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank (Food Bank) is on a mission to end hunger in its communities. With food insecurity on the rise, more than 53,000 households rely on the Food Bank's pantry network and home-delivered groceries. That mission resonated with David Lee, Nossaman's San Francisco office administrative partner. As part of the Firm’s participation in the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, members of Nossaman's San Francisco office chose to spend time volunteering at the Food Bank.

Why the Food Bank?
"The reason we chose the Food Bank was really twofold. First, it's an important regional organization that really helps San Francisco and Marin and we wanted to actively participate within the local community. Second, the organization does so much good work in such a critical area of need. The amount of food they distribute to needy individuals is astounding."

From the newest member of the office's professional staff to a member of the Firm's Executive Committee, the level of participation was inspiring. Within a couple of hours, the Nossaman group was able to pack more than 800 bags of food – totaling nearly 23,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable goods – that were distributed within the community. When the Food Bank presented David with the metrics, he reacted, "I was astonished. It is incredible what a small group can accomplish in a couple of hours. That experience sticks with you, it's motivating."

A Lasting Impact
As David noted, the Food Bank has a unique culture and spirit. "This was my first time working with this organization. I've volunteered at similar non-profits over the years and it was apparent from the start, the individuals working at the Food Bank absolutely care about what they are doing." It was a welcoming experience. David noticed, "They are dedicated – it wasn't just staff setting up boxes or arranging food items. They helped the volunteers and interacted with us. They really partnered with us to make the experience meaningful and rewarding – lots of smiles, encouragement, motivating music – they made us feel inspired and welcomed."

Volunteering stirs a host of feelings. Gratitude is a recurring sentiment. David reflected, "One of the unexpected reminders of this experience was that it reinforced the importance of ensuring that the work we do professionally doesn't overshadow our responsibility within the community." He continued, "We can get siloed, professionally, where we end up with a very directed focus on work. This was an opportunity to remind ourselves that we're part of a larger ecosystem. That as members within that ecosystem we have an obligation to do what we can to make the ecosystem better." Looking back at Nossaman's September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance experience with the Food Bank, David smiled and remarked, "I think that we did that."


Doing the right thing is its own reward. Seeing clients and peers recognize our progress fuels our motivation. These results are a reflection of our clients' trust in us and our peoples' belief in our firm and our future.

Recent recognition of our DEI efforts include:

  • Vault’s 2023 “Best Midsize Law Firms to Work For” recognized Nossaman, for the fourth time, as one of the top midsize law firms for diversity
  • Law360’s 2023 Diversity Snapshot recognized Nossaman as a top 15 firm for minority attorneys (101-250 lawyers category)
  • National Law Journal’s 2023 Women in Law Scorecard ranked Nossaman in the top 25% of law firms in the U.S. for women
  • Nossaman was included in the National Law Journal's 2023 LGBTQ+ Scorecard with 3.31% of attorneys self-identifying as LGBTQ
  • Law360’s Glass Ceiling Report ranked Nossaman as one of the Top 10 firms for female equity partners (midsized law firm category)
  • Nossaman ranked among the top 20 firms on Law360’s Social Impact Leaders report of firms taking the greatest strides on social responsibility (101-250 lawyers category)
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