About RJ Smith

RJ Smith Articles written 45

RJ Smith has been an editor for Los Angeles Magazine and The Village Voice, and a contributor to Spin and Details. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, Grand Royal and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of four books, including The One: The Life and Music of James Brown and the upcoming Chuck Berry: An American Life. A former Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute and Community Scholar at USC, Smith lives in Los Angeles.

Articles written by RJ Smith

Niloufar Park talks business, food and connections

The Seattle attorney has a special place in her heart for her hospitality clients

Here’s the secret behind Seattle-based firm Opsera’s name: It’s made-up. Niloufar Park and her co-founder (now at the ACLU) brainstormed for hours in 2019, searching for a moniker that conveyed why they wanted to practice law. Ops was shorthand for what kind of attorneys they wanted to be: operational forces. And era refers to this moment in history. “It’s time for powerful women,” Park says. She’s found others who agree. “Many clients reached out to me because they wanted to …

The Two-Culture Edge

Irene Y. Lee’s motto is ‘avoid drama’; opposing attorneys don’t always help

If the case had made it to the courtroom, it might have been called Mouse v. Mau5. On one side was the Disney Corporation, a fierce protector of its intellectual property; on the other, celebrity DJ Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5, who often appears with a huge, cartoonish mouse helmet—with Xs for eyes—covering his head. For years the two sides had been nibbling at each other. Deadmau5 filed a trademark claim on his logo and image, and Disney opposed it, saying it too closely …

'A Presence You Can't Learn'

Jennifer Moore is eloquent, charismatic—and takes no prisoners

As a child, Jennifer Moore spent hours listening to the stories of her grandfather, a natural raconteur who hailed from rural Pike County on the eastern edge of Kentucky. She recounts a favorite: “He convinced a man to allow him to put a Dixie cup on top of his head and stand across the street. Then Grandfather bet him he could shoot the star in the Dixie cup while it sat on top of his head. And the man agreed! “I used to think, ‘What a tall tale,’” says Moore, with a smile and a …

Alan vs. the Volcanoes

Taking on a mountain—occasionally, even an avalanche—keeps life in balance for Alan Smith

Alan C. Smith remembers the day in 2018 when a small avalanche headed his way while he was climbing glacier-studded Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia. There had been a lot of snow, but it was warm, and he and his guide were slogging through wet snow—nearing the final, steep ascent—when the slide whizzed by. They got clear of it. Then came a larger one—a wall of snow and rock and ice. Then came the sound. The entire face of the mountain where they had just been standing poured off a …

A Fighter and a Gentleman

Gordon Greenwood is known for his civility, but he’ll go to the mat in the hunt for justice

Growing up in small-town Mississippi, Gordon Greenwood was immersed in a culture of Southern hospitality. A job offer lured him westward 33 years ago, and though he encountered many differences in his new locale, he says his Oakland neighbors have at least one thing in common with those in his hometown. “They are driven to make life better for others. There’s a lot of that here,” he says. “People care a little more about who you are substantively. … There’s a big premium on being …

The Big Picture

Jill Smith is the hip, sardonic attorney making deals for Lego, Rube Goldberg and Godzilla

On a clear day you can see all the way to Catalina Island from Jill Smith’s 17th-floor window at Kleinberg Lange Cuddy & Carlo in Westwood. But this isn’t a clear day. It’s mid-September 2020, the wildfires are burning to the east, and the midday sky is yellow and murky. Smith’s practice area, entertainment law, is also murky. The COVID-19 pandemic caused Hollywood to hit the pause button in the spring, and even with productions starting again in the fall, nobody quite knows what …

Charity Begins at Home

But local lawyers are reaching out to neighbors here and across the world

Charity begins at home, reads the maxim of many a needlepoint pillow—but it doesn’t have to stay there, not even during a pandemic.  Across Ohio and Kentucky, lawyers are reaching out to meet needs caused by the coronavirus, faltering economies, or forces that were in play long before. We spoke with five attorneys making a difference both locally and globally. On the local front, when COVID-19 hit, it seemed the work done by the Reminger Foundation at Cleveland-based Reminger law firm …

Fighting Fire

Five attorneys talk about the massive class action against PG&E

On Nov. 8, 2018, a blaze that would come to be known as the Camp Fire broke out near Paradise. In about half a day, 20,000 acres and 6,713 structures were reduced to ash. The death toll would reach 86. A satellite photographed a mass of gray smoke the size of a small country drifting out over the Pacific Ocean—lives and hopes gone in a handful of hours. Fires are nothing new to Californians, but they are coming with increased intensity and regularity in an age when a stray spark is all it …

Won't Back Down

Alreen Haeggquist and Amber Eck have taken on the Salk Institute, Fairmont Grand, and Donald Trump

On a rainy day in early December, on the 20th floor of a glass tower overlooking downtown San Diego, Alreen Haeggquist and Amber Eck are showing off the offices of their eponymous firm. Handmade wood furniture built by Haeggquist’s husband fills meeting rooms, offices and common areas, where several people are checking in on the U.S. House hearings regarding the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Nearby, at the end of a long hallway, above the fax machine, hangs framed lithographs by …

The Ties That Bind

Brian Neary came from a 'city of hope' and it hasn’t left him

December 11th, 2019 was a tough day to be talking about the law in Jersey City. So maybe it was the right day for it, too.  Two assailants, one reportedly linked to the Black Hebrew Israelites group, killed a detective before storming a Jewish business in a targeted attack. Six people, including the shooters, died.  The shooting hit close to the heart for criminal defense attorney Brian Neary.  “That’s the neighborhood where I grew up, it’s five blocks away—the Catholic grammar …

Find top lawyers with confidence

The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.

Find a lawyer near you