Raymond Best began it all. In 1891, he purchased the law library of John G. North, the son of Riverside’s founder, and opened his law office. It was on the second floor of the Evans Building at the corner of Eighth and Main streets in Riverside.
He later founded the Riverside Abstract Company (later Safeco Title), which he sold in 1915 to turn his attention solely to his law practice. At that time, there were 19 attorneys listed in the Riverside City Directory, six in county towns and none in Palm Springs or Indio. Raymond Best and his partner, Oliver P. Widaman, were regarded as reliable and prominent.
Raymond's son, Eugene Best, attended the University of Southern California and Stanford University, obtaining an engineering degree from Stanford in 1915. He then studied 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 attended Riverside Junior College and Occidental College before attending Duke University and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from Boalt during the Great 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 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, Gabbert was a candidate as well. One Saturday morning in 1949, Gov. Earl Warren called Gabbert at home and offered him the appointment. After he accepted, his name was removed from the firm name, and the partnership became known as Best Best & Krieger. The name has not changed since.
Gov. Ronald Reagan later elevated Gabbert to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. Krieger continued to build the water practice begun by Gabbert in the 30's, and acquired a statewide reputation for the firm in the field — 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 Wyoming’s governor about an extensive project to meet growing Western energy needs.
The firm continued to grow in numbers and offices. Today, nearly 200 attorneys service public and private clients from nine offices strategically located throughout California and Washington, D.C. In 2010, 19 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.
BB&K is proud to trace the firm's success back to the professionalism and community service groundwork laid by its founders 125 years ago. We look forward to continuing to serve as trusted advisors to our clients with the excellent legal advice, experience and the collaborative culture they’ve grown to expect.