A Brief History of GJEL Accident Attorneys

It’s hard for me to believe that Ralph Jacobson and I started this law firm in the 1970s. It just doesn’t seem as if that much time has gone by. When we first met, I had just graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, and Ralph was a third-year law student at Stanford University. We met in East Palo Alto that winter working at the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, a non-profit that provides free legal services to low-income people and their families. Ralph and I became instant friends, and in three years we decided to found our own firm—what is now GJEL Accident Attorneys.

We definitely had a few bumps along the way. The only landlord who would rent to a couple of brand new lawyers was a brand new landlord who had less experience at his business than we had at ours. The February completion date of our offices turned out to be an April completion date, so for the first two months of our practice, Ralph and I shared one “desk” – a piece of plywood nailed to four 2X4’s. There were also no interior walls, nor was there electricity. Somehow, with a little good luck and some good friends nearby, we managed to keep our sanity and do a good job for our first clients.

Our firm has come a long way from those first couple of months, but our commitment to “the little guy” has not changed. It’s true that our firm has grown bigger, our cases have grown bigger, and we’ve gained new partners, but we still stand up for the rights of injured people against big insurance companies just like we did when we started. Luke Ellis, Jim Larsen, Kristin Lucey, and our entire staff have joined Ralph and me in the original spirit and commitment of our firm.

One of the advantages of practicing personal injury law is that it allows us to take cases on a contingency fee basis. For those who aren’t familiar with contingency fees: the fee for our services is contingent (in other words, it “depends on”) the outcome of your case. We do not charge our clients until we win or settle their case. This structure is critical to the health of our legal process, because it allows individuals, no matter their income level, to take on major commercial enterprises and nation-wide insurance companies, even if they cannot afford the up-front cost of hiring a lawyer.

We’ve had opportunities and occasions to expand our firm, but all of us have been careful not to take on more cases than we can handle. We are not, nor have we ever sought to be, a high-volume law practice. We carefully limit our caseload so that each and every case receives the full attention it deserves. We consider this approach essential to maintaining the quality of service with which we strive to provide our clients.

We also aim to establish a personal connection with each client, and we take each case personally. A law firm can theoretically handle a far greater number of cases than we do, but it can only handle so many cases the right way. It is our commitment both personally and professionally to handle cases the right way, and to treat our clients the right way.

I do virtually all of the hiring at the firm personally. It is my goal to hire highly-skilled, hard-working people. However, it is equally important to me to have staff members who are humble, approachable, friendly, and compassionate people. We’re a consumer- and client-friendly firm, and we want to see that approach reflected in everyone on the GJEL Accident Attorneys team, from the most senior member to the newest hire. I encourage you to read some of the things our clients have had to say about us over the years—they offer more insight into what it’s like being represented by GJEL than I’m able to provide here.

I hope you’ll call 866-218-3776 or email us for a free, no-obligation consultation. My staff, my partners, and I look forward to speaking with you.

–Andy Gillin