Above: “It’s important to staff and attorneys to have a feeling of being part of a team,” says managing partner Ed Harnden. “You get there by celebrating their successes.“ From left, holding bowling trophy and Hood to Coast gear: Tami Tolbert, Sean Ray, Linda deHackbeil, Emily Harnden and Stephanie Davis.
Below: Barran Liebman usually sponsors an employee Hood to Coast team. From left: Sam Hernandez, Nelson Atkin, Anneka Nelson and Amy Angel (on floor).
Regular poker tournaments keep it light for Aaron Starr, Lindsay deHackbeil, Kyle Abraham and Desiree Marek.
// Photos by Eric Naslund
Rank: 1st best small company
Years on the list: 4
In 1998 a team of lawyers and staff left a large Portland law firm and set up a boutique office specializing in employment law and labor management under founding partners Paula Barran and Richard Liebman. Fifteen years later, save for just a handful who have moved on, the core of that team is all still at Barran Liebman LLP.
To one of those original attorneys, managing partner Ed Harnden, that speaks volumes about Barran Liebman as a workplace.
“We’ve always focused on having a culture where everyone works as a team, not just on a particular case, but on everything we do,” he says. “That includes making sure we recognize each other’s successes.”
It also includes putting families first — letting young families have plenty of time together or making sure spouses and children feel like they’re part of the larger Barran Liebman family — and giving back to the community through organizations like the Oregon Food Bank and the St. Andrew Legal Clinic. The firm has also been known to shell out random bonuses on, say, Leap Day or the Fourth of July. It sponsors a Hood to Coast team every year, and regular social soirees keep the mood light and friendly.
“I truly enjoy coming to work every day,” Harnden says. “If you can say that, things are pretty good. Our goal is that everyone here can say the same thing.”