Alisha J. Walker, Carol T. Contes, Joe Donnini, Denise M. Guzman, Carla B. Hoffman. Photo by Brad Jacobson
Guzman Law Group, P.C., focuses on owners of closely held businesses, companies with annual revenues from $3 million to $75 million. The team of four attorneys and their support staff serves as their clients’ in-house corporate counsel. They also handle a variety of trust and estate planning for business owners and families.
“It was from representing companies that we grew into estate planning and trust,” said founder Denise Guzman. “We really follow people during their lives, during their business careers and then unfortunately when the time comes we take care of their estates.”
The firm’s clients span the business spectrum, ranging from manufacturing to post-production entertainment. A family the firm represents owns the rights to the hit musical Rent.
Guzman, a long-time Palos Verdes resident, said the firm has a team of attorneys that work well together to best serve their clients’ needs.
“It’s a great team environment,” Guzman said of her fellow attorneys. “We each have our niche. With business people the need is immediate. Estate planning takes longer. It sometimes takes years to close out an estate.”
For corporations, Guzman Law Group’s in-house counsel approach includes attending quarterly meetings, drafting contracts and anticipating potential legal issues. “You have to stay in tune to what’s happening in order to advise your clients,” Guzman said.
She takes the same outlook on estate planning, getting to know the families she works with closely. “In estate planning you really have to dig deep into the family needs and understand how the family functions,” she said. “You need a keen ear sometimes to guide them.”
“I really love our clients,” she said. “You’re almost a confidant.”
Last year, Guzman received trained in a new collaborative process to resolve trust cases. Similar to collaborative divorce, the idea is to preserve the family relationship. Oftentimes, children end up not speaking to one another after a drawn out legal dispute, she said.
“They are beginning to understand that we want to preserve the family and the dynamics once mom and dad are gone,” she said.
Guzman has served the South Bay for the past 30 years as a noted business and estate planning attorney. She earned a bachelor’s degree from USC and a law degree from UCLA. In 1992, she founded the South Bay chapter of the American Business Women’s Association. In 2010, Comerica Bank, in partnership with the Los Angeles Lakers, recognized her as their “Woman of Entrepreneurship” honoree.
“Key for me has always been mentoring the younger associates at the firm,” Guzman said. “I’ve always felt that was my job. You don’t want them to make the same mistakes you’ve made, but I want them to become the best they can be.”
Before stepping down last year, Guzman served for 12 years as a trustee for the Palos Verdes Arts Center. She currently serves on the boards of the non-profits PS I Love You Foundation, which provides health and wellness classes for disadvantaged children, and Joy2Learn, an arts program for children.
Guzman Law Group. Manhattan Towers, 1230 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 650, Manhattan Beach. (310)321-6640. GuzmanLG.com