Profile: Alan Mirman
By Mirman, Alan*
When Bob Mosier invited me to write my profile for the Receivership News my first thought was how to make such a piece interesting to RN readers. I decided the right formula is a combination of personal background, career history and a little insight into our profession and why we do what we do. Here goes….
I’ve been practicing law for more than 30 years. That seems like a very long time, but in taking stock, I’m happy to say that I still enjoy what I do. Bizarre as it may seem, I knew as a junior high school student growing up in West LA, that I wanted to be a lawyer (actually, a litigator). This early focus on a career in the courtroom was one of the rationalizations I used when skipping Political Science theory seminars to play Frisbee with David Pasternak, then my undergraduate classmate at UCLA, and now my colleague on the Receivers Forum Board. We knew we wouldn’t really need to learn the history of war, or the details of the soon-to-be moot Cold War anyway. Had I then anticipated some of the aggressive tactics used by litigators perhaps I would have paid more attention to the classes on warlike behavior.
I began practicing in the creditors’ rights field after graduating from UCLA law school by joining Epport & Delevie, which by 1983 became Epport, Kaseff & Mirman. After five subsequent years of partnership with friend and law school classmate Allen Michel at Michel, Cerny & Mirman, I became a partner at Horgan, Rosen, Beckham & Coren in 1992.
I’ve always emphasized litigation, workouts, and documentation of loans and real estate transactions in my practice. My current firm represents numerous financial institutions and small businesses, and has a broad range of specialties, including corporate work, health care, and general business litigation. Needless to say, we also handle a great deal of litigation relating to receiverships.
Having practiced with “boutique” firms throughout my career, I am committed to the concept that small firms provide the best in talent, service, and “bang for the buck.” I also like the lifestyle and the camaraderie found in smaller firms (at least in the firms with which I’ve been associated).
My practice also includes an emphasis on provisional remedies. I’ve served on the State Bar Debtor-Creditor and Bankruptcy Committee, and as Chair and Newsletter editor of the LA County Bar Remedies Section (then known as the Provisional and Post-Judgment Remedies Section). I’m also on the Commercial Law Committee of the LACBA Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section.
One of the more interesting roles I played in this area was when I successfully lobbied for a revision to writ of attachment statutes to allow under-secured personal property creditors to obtain such writs. I’ve been retained many times as an expert witness in pre-judgment remedies cases and have spoken on many panels for the California Receivers Forum, various bar associations, and similar groups.
My involvement with receivership law began in the 1990’s when I was appointed by Judge Robert O’Brien to the Ad-Hoc Committee on Receiverships, formed to propose standardized rules and forms in that area. I joined with many members of that committee to form the California Receivers Forum, and have been on the board of the LA/Orange County Chapter since its founding. Kent Johnson and I were the co-chairs of the Chapter in 2004. Faithful readers of the Receivership News know that I author the Heard in the Halls column, which regularly (but often unsuccessfully) solicits comments, questions or other input from the readership.
I have never served as a receiver but my practice has focused more and more in recent years on representing receivers, and the lenders who get receivers appointed. The cases have been varied and the work interesting. There is something to be said for representing the Court’s appointed agent. Judges tend to support the receivers they appoint, so long as that receiver is doing a good job, reporting regularly, and working to keep expenses under control.
I can’t overstate the importance of the receiver communicating well with the parties and the court, and of retaining the trust of the appointing judge. I’m honored to represent some of the finest receivers in the state. It can be a challenge to protect a “troubled” estate against multiple attacks by competing creditors, or to cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation when the parties have a history of litigation and animosity.
I come from a family of teachers and educators. My parents founded the Mirman School for Gifted Children, and I’ve learned a lot from my lifelong involvement with the school. I was Board Chair for many years, and now serve as a board and committee member. I have particularly enjoyed serving on the Board of Directors of the UCLA Law Alumni Association, the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank (a great charity to support), and Rampage Futbol Club, in addition to the Mirman School Board and the Receivers’ Forum.
It is probably true that the personality traits that bring each person his or her successes as a lawyer, a receiver, a real estate agent, a property manager or in any other profession are reflected in the non-work components of one’s life. In other words, even when a person is relaxing he or she tends to bring the same characteristics to “play” that they bring to work. I’ve taken a look at some of the consistencies in what I do at work and when away from work, and imagine that you might find the same consistencies about yourself.
My avocations seem in many ways like mirror images of my vocation, in other words. Besides my number one avocation — which is my focus on family — my hobbies are golf, soccer refereeing, and vegetable gardening. No diving with sharks or hang-gliding in my game plan. I have been married for 23 years to my wonderful wife Nancy. Ours is a “my 3 sons” family, with Aaron, 20, a sophomore at Oberlin College in Ohio, Zack, 17, finishing his junior year in high school, and Jesse, 14, getting ready to start ninth grade in the fall. Soccer and music fill our home, and our love of travel leads us to regular and relatively lengthy vacations, most recently to Spain, Hawaii, Italy, Greece, Costa Rica and the Yucatan.
I say that avocations mimic vocations (or is it vice-versa?) because I realize that refereeing a soccer match is like being a lawyer in so many ways – it requires the extrapolation of a set of laws to apply to a given situation, usually with extremely little time to make the analysis, and one or more affected parties ready to argue passionately about the result. At least the referee gig isn’t sedentary and I’m pleased to say that confirming letters and requests for sanctions are not part of the terms of engagement.
This is also true in golf. There, as in the legal arena, one is always “practicing.” We know that success depends on doing our best at every moment, and that we must learn to manage the game instead of taking wild risks. Whether one takes the safe approach by laying up instead of aiming for the narrow space between the trees, or by advising the client to settle instead of rolling the dice with a jury, attorneys are often risk-adverse.
How do practicing law and vegetable gardening complement one another? Organization, advance preparation, paying attention to the calendar, and constant tending – these are the keys to success.
I hope I’ve provided some food for thought. If you have a comment, please send it to me for my Heard in the Halls column. That will ensure someone is reading it.