Typically, a fourth anniversary wouldn’t attract too much attention – it’s not really a milestone, and it doesn’t have a sexy gift attached to it like gold or diamonds (it’s actually fruit or flowers). But when you have accomplished as much as Phoenix real estate law firm MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC (M&G) has in its’ first four years, it is time to jump on a table and shout.

What is there to shout about? In just four years, Patrick MacQueen and Benjamin Gottlieb, the founding partners of Arizona’s top-ranked  real estate law firm each year since its’ inception MacQueen & Gottlieb each have been acknowledged as one of the top attorneys in the state in evaluations conducted by  Valley magazines and other national media outlets.

For a firm that is designed to operate like a sports franchise (a bit more on that later), it is fitting that in just four years MacQueen and Gottlieb have built themselves a very impressive trophy case including:

Patrick MacQueen:

• #1 ranked real estate law firm in Arizona by Ranking Arizona 2019, 2020; #3 in 2018

• Named to the Best Lawyers in America© List for 2021, representing the top 6% of attorneys in the U.S.

• Member, America’s Finest Lawyers

• Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star 2012-17

• “People and Projects to Know” in commercial real estate 2019 by AZBig Media

Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona as chosen by AZ Business Magazine 2019 and 2020

• America’s Top 100 Attorneys Lifetime Achievement Award

For a complete list visit https://www.mandglawgroup.com/patrick-r-macqueen-esq/

Benjamin Gottlieb

• #1 ranked real estate law firm in Arizona by Ranking Arizona 2019, 2020; #3 in 2018

• Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star 2017-20

• Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona as chosen by AZ Business Magazine 2020

• Member, America’s Finest Lawyers

• America’s Top 100 Attorneys Lifetime Achievement Award 2020

• Founder and member of the ASU Law Alumni Networking Group

• For a complete list visit https://www.mandglawgroup.com/benjamin-l-gottlieb-esq/

But more than the awards from peers, clients, and the business community, what sets M&G apart after four years is something more subtle. There is just a whole different vibe at the firm than is found at virtually any other firm in the Valley, and it starts from the top.

MacQueen and Gottlieb have a relaxed friendship that translates seamlessly to their law partnership. They enjoy golfing, are family men and top-notch attorneys who, frankly, don’t act like it – or at least like the stereotype of an attorney. A visit to their offices is more like visiting an ad agency than a law firm, and the witty banter that permeates the hallways around the partners’ offices filters down to everyone in the firm, creating a collegial atmosphere that fosters teamwork and togetherness. We win and lose together.

“It’s not as if the firm laid down an edict in our bylaws that decreed, ‘We’re going to be a cool, hip firm,’” said MacQueen. “It’s just the way Ben and I had always acted around each other outside the office. But when we founded our own firm, we decided that we would encourage the kind of talk you hear around a backyard barbecue or in your den, it’s really worked out well.”

Whether it was planned or happened organically the fact remains, M&G is, in fact, a different firm. Just ask attorney Chris Zarda, the firm’s Director of Complex Litigation, about the atmosphere around the office.

“I was working for a firm officed right down the hall from MacQueen & Gottlieb,” he said. “Over the course of a year or so I came to know and appreciate the attorneys and staff at M&G and the firm culture and how different it was from that of a “traditional” law firm. It made a huge impression on me, and it became apparent that this was the firm I was meant to join to continue my practice and mentorship efforts, and I was fortunate they had room for me.”

Firm Director of Administration Pam Molnar seconded Zarda’s assessment of the firm culture.

“I’ve been in law firm administration for more than 30 years and I’ve never worked with a firm like this one,” said Molnar. “It’s just the antithesis of what you’d expect from working in a law firm – the atmosphere is light and easygoing, but underneath that you know we’re all expected to do great work. And I think because of the atmosphere Ben and Patrick have created, we are

more productive than we would be otherwise because everyone appreciates the atmosphere in which we get to work.”

It’s all well and good to have a great culture, but you also must provide great service to your clients and generate great outcomes to gain the reputation the firm has developed over just four years.

“When Pat and I founded the firm, we really wanted to do things differently from other firms and we’ve succeeded in doing that,” Gottlieb said. “The best part about it is the culture we wanted to create has allowed us to be better lawyers. We give our clients a lot of team representation; in fact, we try to operate the firm like a sports franchise. Pat and I are the coaches, and the senior attorneys are the team captains, so we’re mentoring and grooming our young attorneys while also producing great outcomes for our clients.

“Consequently, our clients are much more than just a file number here – even internally we reference our cases by name,” he continued. “Any member of a client’s case team will be up to speed on a case at any given time, which helps us build personal relationships with our clients since they speak to all the members of their team. To continue the sports analogy, our quarterback (the lead attorney) handles the ball, but all the other members of the team are running the same play and know where he will go and they should go at all times. The team moves in synchronicity, with each player knowing what the others are going to do at any given moment. I tell you; it is a lot more fun working this way than grinding away on a case by yourself, and we think it produces better results.”

For a firm that only has been operating for just four years and with two relatively young partners (MacQueen is 42, Gottlieb 35) they have plenty of experience, combining for 24 years practicing law. Their previous experiences led them to the knowledge that they wanted their firm to be different, as noted above. And largely because they have chosen to be different, the business and legal communities have noticed. This has contributed to their garnering recognition and accolades, and both partners are grateful for the accolades their burgeoning firm has received.

“It’s always great to be recognized by the people in the community we serve as being at the top of our field,” MacQueen said. “We strive to provide our clients with great legal representation and do it in an atmosphere that is enjoyable for both our clients and our team. Ben and I believe that by creating that kind of atmosphere, it helps attract clients who may not want to deal with an attorney in a “traditional” law firm atmosphere.”

Gottlieb agreed. “The differences between M&G and other law firms don’t end with the firm’s culture – although it does start there. I think the way we operate gives our clients a unique experience, allowing our attorneys to broaden their level of expertise, and results in great outcomes for our clients.

“Both Pat and I are committed to finding ways to maintain our leadership position in today’s changing market by being different, he continued. “We really try not to adapt to trends we see at other places – we try to create our own path, and it’s worked extremely well so far.”

To illustrate how the firm is different from others, here is a quick anecdote. On the firm’s first anniversary, most law firms would present the partners with a photo of them shaking hands and cutting the office ribbon, or some other ‘canned gift’. MacQueen and Gottlieb each received a custom-made bobble head doll of himself, which remains on each partner’s desk to this day.  This year, to celebrate four years, all M&G’ers received a custom caricature sticker for their M&G water bottles. So, you see, in ways both large and small at M&G they just things differently.  M&G’ers can often be found wearing the custom M&G socks they all received after completing a team scavenger hunt around downtown Phoenix for their Holiday celebration.

In addition, when each employee is onboarded, they are asked to provide one Magnificent & Great (M&G) thing about themself that is then featured in their bio on the firm web site.

It’s not just the senior level people who see and appreciate the cultural differences between M&G and other firms. Brandon Bodea, the firm’s first law clerk, and now an attorney with the firm, explained why he chose to stay at M&G after graduating from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“I was originally attracted to M&G because of the firm’s unique and modernized perspective on the practice of law.  Rather than viewing the practice as an antiquated tool, M&G seemed to focus more on pragmatic and goal-oriented results. M&G was focused on its clients, not expanding an elaborately bloated giant law firm.”

And once Bodea joined the firm, he saw that the elements that attracted him to the firm were being put into practice, which benefitted both the clients and staff.

“While staying true to its roots, M&G has grown as a family.  M&G has hired some of the best and most passionate attorneys that Arizona has to offer, and that has resulted in a team of attorneys and professional staff that can proudly be considered a second home. And because we all feel so comfortable here, it allows us to truly make our clients feel special and cared for. A client is more than a billing code or a set of facts in an ever-expanding universe of legal problems. M&G knows this and constantly implements strategies to focus on a client and his or her needs.”

The partners reflected on their recent successes and highlighting the top accomplishments of the past year in their own minds. When Gottlieb looked into his trophy case, he saw the following as his top achievements: The firm prevailed on summary judgment in a commercial lease matter on behalf of a landlord, where the tenant stopped paying rent because it could not use the property as intended after the lease began.  The court ruled that based on the language in the lease, the tenant bore the risk of this situation occurring. In another case, we obtained a substantial cash settlement for a client in a fraudulent conveyance action after prevailing in a jury trial and obtaining a judgment against the judgment debtor entity.  The judgment debtor sold a building during the litigation and transferred the proceeds from the sale out of the entity. Finally, on a personal note, Gottlieb indicated that being named to the list of the Top 100 Attorneys in Arizona was “truly gratifying.”

MacQueen’s list of accomplishments for the past year reflects both his passion for business as well as his passion for competitive golf. He  noted the firm being named #1 real estate law firm in Arizona for a second consecutive year; being named to the Best Lawyers in America© list by US News & World Report, an honor bestowed on no more than the top 6 percent of attorneys in America; and winning the Club Championship at Whirlwind Golf Club, adding another new trophy to his case.

Two partners, two different views of success and one law firm charting its own course to success. MacQueen & Gottlieb is truly creating its own path – a path to the top of the legal profession in Arizona.