Team Spotlights

Camaraderie and teamwork define the culture at Scali Rasmussen. Meet some of the members of our team. 

Gwenn Albright

Published on

We’re lucky to have Gwenn Albright on our team– not just because of the value she provides as a paralegal, but because of all the twists and turns in life were necessary for her to arrive here.

The journey dates to her time as a legal secretary trainee at a law firm that had also just hired Jeffrey Erdman and Julie Pearson, who are now shareholder and principal, respectively, at Scali Rasmussen.

“Jeffrey became a law clerk to one of the partners at the firm – I think he was all three of my then pre-teen daughters’ first crushes,” says Gwenn.

Gwenn kept working with Jeffrey for many years as he formed Bennett & Erdman alongside Roberta Bennett, though they initially parted when the two partners went their own ways as she remained at Bennett’s new firm. As that practice was winding down, Gwenn says she was more than happy to reunite with Jeffrey at his new firm, and Scali Rasmussen was more than happy to have her.

“I really love the crew. Everyone is easy to work with. I appreciate the ability to work remotely but also enjoy my in-person time in the office,” says Gwenn. “There is no real day-to-day for me, per se. I am given projects to do by whomever needs help. I see the project to a conclusion, bird-dogging issues as they arise and under the direction of whichever attorney or senior paralegal has given me the task.”

Outside of work, Gwenn loves reading, cooking, and playing Scrabble with her husband. She’s also an on-duty grandmother to her eldest daughter’s five-year-old twin boys three days a week, as well as her youngest daughter’s three-year-old girl two afternoons a week. Grandmothering to her middle daughter located in St. Louis (if and when it happens) may be a bit trickier, says Gwenn, but she’s more than happy to give it a try.

“My family is my passion. I used to think that wasn’t enough for a ‘passion’, but age has taught me that it is – at least for me,”

Jennifer Whisenant

Published on

It’s hard to say no to life in sunny Los Angeles, but it can be easier than uprooting yourself from home. Luckily for Jennifer Whisenant, her career at Scali Rasmussen affords her the best of both worlds.

“I work from home in Gilbert, AZ three days a week, so I love the two days I spend in the office. It is great to interact with the staff and attorneys. And it’s terrific in the summer, as being in LA is a break from the dry heat in Arizona where temperatures are averaging 115 degrees,” says Jennifer.

She’s been with the firm for just over three years now, but Jennifer says she’s known firm founder Chris Scali for nearly 40 years. When she caught word that his law firm was in need of someone to handle operations and finance, she says she jumped at the opportunity.

“The grind of being in the construction industry for twenty years was wearing thin, and I was ready for a new challenge in a new industry,” says Jennifer. “What’s great about this job is that no two days are the same, and the plan for the day in the morning, ends up looking very different reflecting back at the end of the day.”

It took some time to get used to the industry change, but by now, Jennifer says her only regret is that she didn’t make the jump sooner.

Outside of her work, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and his two children, a nineteen-year-old daughter and a ten-year-old son. They love being outdoors, from beach trips to hiking to golf or just hanging by the pool. Despite loving all those warm, sunny activities, Jennifer says the best place she’s ever travelled to is actually Antarctica.

Christian Scali

Published on

Scali Rasmussen was founded on the notion that it’s not necessary for a personal life to suffer for a professional life to thrive, and employees are encouraged to pursue passions and live life to the fullest. In that regard, Christian Scali is happily leading from the front.

Chris says he realized early in his career that the traditional BigLaw lifestyle and his own personal and professional desires weren’t compatible.

“I didn’t want to sacrifice my interests and individuality in pursuit of that traditional career track, where the law firm may be well known nationally, but the individual is never anything more than a cog in the wheel,” Chris says.

In his practice, Chris focuses on automotive law, with a particular emphasis on the representation of franchise dealers. But in his capacity as the firm’s managing shareholder, he rejected the belief that the firm’s size determines the breadth of services offered, a popular line of thinking among megafirms. Though enormous practice groups have their advantages, most companies would be better served with a personal touch from an individual with a name, a face, and a phone to call.

“Say you’ve got two candidates for a job - one whose every waking moment is defined by their career, and another who performs their duties, efficiently and to the letter, but is an otherwise fully formed person with a life outside of the office. I think in most cases people will say they would prefer the latter,” Chris says. “People inherently understand that we need that sense of balance in our lives, but many in the legal industry have convinced themselves that ignoring that very basic human instinct should somehow be a point of pride.”

When it comes to pursuing passions, cultivating a firm culture, and fostering a sense of openness and warmth, there’s no better example of Chris’ commitment to the cause than Villa Ardore. An eight-bedroom suite Tuscan estate and luxury spa located in the rolling hills of Florence, Italy, Villa Ardore is a labor of love created by Chris and his husband Stephen Lewis, who own and operate the property together.

“To turn this dream that we’ve had for decades now into a reality has been an incredible experience, both in terms of how we’ve physically rejuvenated the property, and how we’ve worked to make Villa Ardore not just a personal passion, but a professional pursuit,” says Chris. “Our clients and colleagues are practically regulars. The villa provides an environment that’s away from all the hustle and bustle where they can really relax.”

Halbert “Bert” Rasmussen

Published on

Not long after we welcomed Halbert “Bert” Rasmussen in 2017, the firm previously known as The Scali Law Firm was officially transformed into the Scali Rasmussen PC we know today.

As firm founder Christian Scali said at the time of the rebranding, placing the Rassmusen name on the office front door was an honor well-earned by Bert, who is among the most prolific (and consistently successful) litigators in the industry today, particularly when it comes to representing franchises in the automotive space.

He is well-regarded by his peers, and even his opposing counsel tend to have kind words for him away from the lectern. He has been recognized numerous times by distinguished legal and business publications and institutions of law, having even been awarded Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Peer-Review Rating.

Bert is happy to put his vast experience in automotive law to work not just in courtrooms and boardrooms, but in books, periodicals and publications as an industry thought leader. He is the author of several industry compliance books and publications, including “A Dealer Guide to the FTC Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rule,” published by the National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA) as part of the NADA Management Series and the Franchise Law Manual published by the California New Car Dealers Association.

Bert is a frequent speaker at industry events, including the California New Motor Vehicle Board Industry Round Table, where he is often sought for his thoughts on the future of the automotive industry.

Eric Robinson

Published on

Officially, Eric Robinson is Scali Rasmussen’s records manager. Unofficially, he says, he’s also the firm’s running back and all-around utility player.

“I really do everything; I catch passes, I block, I’m doing whatever’s necessary that day, from docketing to mail processing and client intake,” says Eric.

While the firm’s operations are taking its attorneys all over Southern California and beyond, Eric’s often called upon as the anchor back at home base.

“I take pride in being able to help the firm as a whole, to help everyone complete their projects in an efficient manner. They can count on me to know what they need and when and how they need it,” Eric says.

Eric grew up in South-Los Angeles, and says he became an activist in college after witnessing firsthand the negative impact that drugs and the gangs that peddled them had on his neighborhood and throughout the city. He became a volunteer for the Amer-I-Can Foundation for Social Change, kickstarted by civil rights leader and pro football hall of famer Jim Brown.

He remains active with social reform and support programs since, most recently through Suit Up, which provides spirit gear, team uniforms, and student body club apparel to underserved high schools at cost.

“What I admire most about Eric is his commitment and dedication to helping others, which he not only demonstrates in the office, but through the numerous organizations he helps. I am deeply appreciative of his work with Give Mentor Love Foundation as well as his commitment to this firm and its team,” says the firm’s managing partner, Christian Scali.

“I’m still involved in activism, and what I’m really interested in is helping people explore the uncelebrated aspects of black history,” Eric says. “So much emphasis is put on the struggle – and with good reason. But what people need to hear more about is how parts of the struggle were overcome, and there is still work to be done.

Eric also volunteers his time to schools throughout the greater Los Angeles Area; currently, he’s helping out at Morningside High School, a primary school in Inglewood.

Chiamaka Enemuoh

Published on

Chiamaka Enemuoh’s mind is always on what’s next. Even when the matters that brought a client to Scali Rasmussen are on hold, Chiamaka says she’s checking in to offer updates, answer questions, assuage doubts, and ensure overall satisfaction.

“I think in the legal world, it’s easy to stop thinking about a case when it’s not active. It can get lost in the shuffle,” Chiamaka says. “I want clients to know we are keeping things moving.”

Chiamaka says she approaches her job as an associate at the firm like a server at a restaurant, and her tables are her case list.

“When you’re working multiple tables, you aren’t dedicating most of your time to one or two tables and just dropping in with the others when you need to,” Chiamaka says. “You want to make sure all of your customers are happy, and that means checking and making sure they’ve got everything they need.

Lucky for Chiamaka, keeping up with clients is one of her favorite parts of the job. Familiarity with a client makes it all the more satisfying when the firm delivers the exact result they needed, she says.

“There’s a wide variety of cases within the firm—it’s not just plaintiff or defense work, or transactional matters. But no matter what the firm is working on, the lawyers are willing to do what it takes within the bounds of the law and ethics to get the client the results they want. I think that’s something that sets Scali Rasmussen apart,” Chiamaka says.

Legal backgrounds run in the family, as her mother is a lawyer in Nigeria, where Chiamaka was born. Happy to follow in her mother’s footsteps, Chiamaka had already spent two years in law school in Nigeria before educational opportunities brought her to Los Angeles and a career in U.S. law. She’s a Pepperdine School of Law graduate with an undergrad in political science.

Chiamaka is active with the local Nigerian community, and even recently became president of the Nigerian American Bar Association of California. She sings in an African choir once a month and plays the congas at her church every week.

Alexis Ojinaga

Published on

Alexis joined our firm’s Ontario office as a law clerk not long after graduating from law school, later moving to our Los Angeles location and a new position as paralegal.

“I am one of the few remote employees, due to living so far from LA. But the great thing about this firm and the culture is that no matter whether you are remote or in the office, you are never treated as an outcast or left out. I’ve really enjoyed working at the firm,” said Alexis.

For Alexis, the most rewarding aspect of the job is securing a great outcome for clients under the mentorship of seasoned litigators, earning her invaluable experience as she continues to pursue her goal to become a barred attorney. Every day tends to bring something new.

“Depending on what is happening in cases that I am assisting with, my day could consist of document review, compiling exhibits, analysis of consumer demands, prepping responses to subpoenas, lemon law or consumer demands,” said Alexis. “It is hard for this type of position to be repetitive as every day is different and we have to be ready to assist the clients at a moment's notice.”

When not working, Alexis and her fiancé TJ are working on plans for their wedding and fixing up their new home, with plenty of DIY projects to keep them busy over the weekends. They have two dogs — Gaia, a Rottweiler, and Nagini, a black lab — that she says “pretty much take up the rest of our time,” though when she can win a free moment, she enjoys reading thriller, mystery and horror novels.

John Swenson

Published on

In court and on the strings, John Swenson is a bit of a virtuoso. Guitar has been a passion of his for nearly his whole life, and if it weren’t for the call of home and a career in law, John might still be touring Budapest right now.

“Not long after law school I went to Hungary for about three years, working for a number of organizations that were deployed in post-Soviet countries to assist with building up infrastructure,” John said. “And throughout, I was playing guitar for a band at venues all over Budapest. It was a lot of fun.”

Lucky for us, the allure of old horizons and new opportunities beckoned, leading him back to his native Southern California. He spent the next 13 years handling product liability defense litigation under the guidance of his legal mentor, an old family friend. His mentor’s independent practice eventually merged into a Big Law firm, and John realized that he and his clients would benefit from a little more flexibility. That’s when he met firm founder Chris Scali.

“I was really impressed with what he had put together, as at the time I’d never seen anything like it,” said John. “A one-stop shop for automotive retailers was a concept that really appealed to me. I grew up in SoCal, so I always had that lust for cars, even though I was by no means a gearhead. But I immediately saw the value of the Scali business model in the automotive-heavy LA market.”

John’s deep experience in product liability litigation proved a win/win for the firm and his own personal practice, as he was able to narrow his focus to meet the specific needs of the automotive industry. His day-to-day work typically includes some mix of consumer litigation (in state, federal and appellate courts), and pre-litigation negotiation. He also dedicates significant time to pro bono work, having recently been lauded by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles for his defense of a group of longtime Santa Monica residents displaced by a fire that was caused by their landlord’s neglect.

John loves spending time with his two children, a son soon turning 18 and a 12-year-old daughter. His son’s even playing guitar himself these days, and John’s been happy for the opportunity to share his passion for music with his kids.

“It’s been great. I like to build electric guitars, I recently built my fifth, and we were able to build one for my son that was just for him,” John said. “And I love just hanging out with my daughter. She’s really the love of my life right now.”

Shawn Peters

Published on

Scali Rasmussen’s senior corporate paralegal Shawn Peters spent more than a decade as a counselor in higher education. But with a Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School and years of experience under his belt as a law clerk, Shawn says he always felt something in his mind calling him back to the legal world.

A call with his long time friend Chris Scali - the firm’s managing shareholder - made his move back into law official.

“He reached out to me back in 2018. He knew I wasn’t completely satisfied with where I was at the time and asked if I wanted to jump back in,” said Shawn.

As senior corporate paralegal, Shawn’s job is to primarily assist clients with transactions and licensing for new businesses. He also assists other parts of the firm, especially the labor and employment practice, in potential damage analysis summarizing depositions for the litigation team.The thing that really makes the job interesting, he said, is how much his duties day-to-day shift based on the needs of the firm’s clients.

“If we are involved in a purchase or a sale, I am normally the person that helps form the company and obtain all the necessary permits and licenses for the new business to operate,” said Shawn. “Once you establish a relationship with a client what I find is they will frequently reach back out to you on various licensing and permitting questions.”

The most rewarding aspect of the job for Shawn is the sense of accomplishment he feels when a client gets what they need.

“From my standpoint on the corporate side, clients have a lot they are dealing with when they start or acquire a business,” said Shawn.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been thanked at the end of the transaction for helping them through the process or being there to answer questions when they need help.

With family around the country, Shawn and his wife like to spend most of their off-time traveling to visit.

Anthony Kressel

Published on

Most people might hesitate at the prospect of trading beautiful villas, Renaissance architecture and a view of The Campanile for the busy streets of LA 6000 miles away. But most people aren’t Anthony. “I live a big, big life,” said Anthony. And he’s got the resume to back it up.

Prior to leaving his home country of Italy, the Florence native was employed for several years at the Vatican as a superintendent, working with parish and diocesan leadership on the administrative end of things. He later served for seven years as an office administrator for Polizia di Stato.

But, always on the lookout for his next big move, Anthony was suddenly struck with the idea of a move to America—and Los Angeles in particular.

“It was a decision that would change everything. So I called Chris Scali—my best friend, ‘What would you think if I moved to America’?” said Anthony. “He told me, ‘It’s not going to be very easy, but if you want to do it, you should try.’”

While the LA life took some getting used to, he says things couldn’t have worked out for the better: he’s now three years married to his husband Mark, who’s a lawyer in Los Angeles. They have a young pit bull named Guido.

As file clerk, Anthony’s not only the firm’s official recordkeeper, he’s arguably its most reliable linguist and translator. He’s fluent in four languages—English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. He also understands French and Russian. “In Europe, the countries are so close that you are always traveling somewhere else. Three months here, five months there,” Anthony said. “And I always wanted to take in the culture and learn the language.”

While his friendship with Chris was the link that brought him into the legal world of the US, Anthony said he’s come to deeply appreciate the firm, its members, and the important work they do.

“The firm really has a vision, and everyone is always working to achieve it,” said Anthony.