More than 120 years in the making of a law firm
He also founded the Riverside Abstract Company (later Safeco Title) which he sold in 1915 to turn his attention solely to the practice of law. At that time there were 19 attorneys listed in the Riverside City Directory, six in county towns, none in Palm Springs or Indio. Raymond Best and his partner, Oliver P. Widaman, were called "able and reliable lawyers" and "a firm of prominent attorneys."
Raymond's son, Eugene, attended the University of Southern California and Stanford University, obtaining an engineering degree from Stanford in 1915. He then began to study law and abstract titles. Although he never attended law school, he took the bar examination in 1918, passed and was admitted to practice. He worked in his father's practice for several years, becoming a partner in 1925.
In 1938, John G. Gabbert joined the Bests and in 1941, the firm became Best Best & Gabbert. Gabbert had attended Riverside Junior College and Occidental College before attending Duke University and Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. He graduated from Boalt in the midst of the Depression, and returned to Riverside to practice law. Several years later, James H. Krieger left O'Melveny and Myers in Los Angeles and joined the firm in 1946. Gabbert had known Krieger at South Pasadena High School and urged him to relocate to Riverside. In 1947, the firm became Best Best Gabbert & Krieger.
Two years later, the firm and the town were flourishing. Gene Best was on the State Bar Board of Governors and John Gabbert was president of the Riverside County Bar Association. When a third judgeship was created in the Riverside County Superior Court, Gene Best was mentioned for that position. Although he did not know it, John Gabbert was a candidate as well. One Saturday morning in 1949, Governor Earl Warren called Gabbert at home and offered him the appointment. He accepted. Gabbert's name was removed from the firm name, and the partnership became known as Best Best & Krieger. The name has not changed since.
In later years, the founders of the firm went on to bigger and better things. Judge John Gabbert was elevated by Governor Reagan to the position of Justice of the Appellate Court for the Fourth District Court of Appeals. Jim Krieger continued to build the water practice begun by Gabbert in the 30's, and acquired a statewide reputation for the firm in that specialty, later carried on by Arthur L. Littleworth and Eric L. Garner, among others. Krieger's career was cut short by his untimely death in a midair commuter airplane accident in 1975. He was on his way to meet the Governor of Wyoming to discuss an extensive project to meet growing Western energy needs.
The firm has continued to grow in numbers and offices. Today, nearly 200 attorneys service public and private clients from eight offices strategically located throughout California and an office in Washington, D.C. In 2010, 19 highly regarded public and private lawyers joined BB&K from the Sacramento firm of McDonough Holland & Allen. In 2011, BB&K acquired Miller & Van Eaton, a nationally recognized D.C.-based telecommunications firm and six of its top attorneys.
The lawyers at Best Best & Krieger are proud to trace the firm's current success back to professionalism and community service begun by its founders more than a century ago. We look forward with confidence to the next hundred years.