ANGEL GARGANTA ’92
Hard to believe, given his status as a leading consumer class action defense litigator, but Angel Garganta has pulled only one all-nighter as a lawyer. While his commitment to work-life balance permeates Venable LLP’s San Francisco office, where he is a hiring partner and cochairs the firm-wide Class Action Defense Group, its roots extend to Boalt Hall.
Garganta left Princeton in 1984 to pursue a history Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. His now-husband, fellow Princeton historian Michael Schwarz ’93, soon followed and the couple settled in San Francisco. After realizing professional academia was not the right fit, both found their way to Boalt—and vowed not to let it consume their lives.
“We treated it like our job,” says Garganta, a Cuban immigrant who decided to apply his talent for turning facts into compelling storytelling to a law career while working as a paralegal. “Nine to five, then we went home and had dinner together.”
They even brought their domestic life to school, hanging out in the California Law Review lounge with their black lab Amelia.
Twenty years later, Garganta and Schwarz, now in-house counsel at Oracle, were married by retired federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, for whom Garganta had clerked.
Garganta cut his teeth representing big banks with “the old lions of the San Francisco bar,” at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen (now Morgan Lewis). But after representing Dannon in various consumer class action suits, his focus shifted toward the food and beverage industry.
“There has been exponential growth in this area because of FDA information becoming available on the internet and consumers becoming more interested in healthy, natural, organic products,” Garganta says. This fueled his practice, as the Northern District of California is commonly called the “food court” because so many consumer class actions are filed there.
As a partner at Arnold & Porter, Garganta’s class action prowess earned the respect of both clients and opposing counsel. In 2014, Venable, which boasts one of the country’s top-ranked advertising practices, invited him to join the firm’s new San Francisco office as its fourth partner. In just over three years, Garganta has helped grow the office to more than 30 attorneys.
“We take pride in bringing in talented lawyers, but also people that will fit into our firm,” Garganta says. “It’s actually a lot like Boalt. That spirit of collaboration and helping each other you see among Boalt students, I like to think we have that at Venable.”
To help maintain his firm’s talent and diversity, Garganta has begun to develop a relationship with Berkeley Law’s La Raza student organization.
“People from different backgrounds bring a totally different perspective to the table,” he says. “And it’s an added benefit if they’re from Boalt.”