Ognian Gavrilov, ’08, is a hard charger who doesn’t let much of anything — or anybody — get in the way of his ambitions and his clients’ best interests.
The bold young attorney has built a Sacramento law firm from the ground up, winning million-dollar judgments, settlements, and arbitrations. His success brings numerous case referrals from other firms. His achievements earned him the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association (CCTLA) 2020 Advocate of the Year Award.
“We are the fastest growing mid-sized firm in town,” says Gavrilov, in a thick Eastern European accent tempered by his years in California.
At age 20, Gavrilov immigrated to the United States from Bulgaria. He settled in Southern California, spent two years at a junior college and graduated from California State University, San Bernardino. He was accepted at McGeorge and was eager to jump right into law practice.
“When I graduated from McGeorge, the economy was collapsing at the height of a recession,” says Gavrilov. “I lost my first legal job and was forced to go out on my own.”
“As a new lawyer, I was taking anything that comes through the door,” Gavrilov says. He didn’t hear many footsteps, but he began to notice something a little odd.
“I found out nobody wanted to do trials,” Gavrilov says, “so I decided I’ll compete in trials. Gradually, I gained a foothold and business grew. I added a couple of attorneys, and we branched out into several legal fields.”
In 2015, Gavrilov partnered with J. Edwards Brooks, ’06, an experienced litigator with strong business contacts to form Gavrilov & Brooks. The firm took off, earning a reputation as a Swiss army knife around Sacramento.
“We had six to eight attorneys doing arbitrations and trials pre-Covid,” Gavrilov says. “I have good intuition, but more importantly we believe in thorough research to fully prepare for any litigation. I’m strong on procedure.”
Gavrilov & Brooks has a constant stream of referrals from several well-known personal injury firms, often getting cases turned over at their inception. But P.I. law is just a small part of its business.
“We have corporate business,” Gavrilov says. “We are outside general counsel to several private companies. Our tent-pole client is Bearpaw. We also have Kolas cannabis. We even have a bank as a client.”
Gavrilov & Brooks operates out of two Victorians that it owns on Capitol Avenue. That gives the firm an advantage on fee structure over other firms in pricier rental properties although the properties have increased dramatically in value and mivght be attractive to a midtown developer.
The 41 year-old attorney also owns 58 Degrees & Holding Co., a wine bar, restaurant and event space in midtown Sacramento. Covid-19 restrictions shut the place down twice. That was once too often for Gavrilov. In December, he decided to sue Governor Newsom in federal court.
“When he went overboard with the ICU issue, that was the final straw. I thought his ICU capacity theory was disingenuous,” Gavrilov says.
The suit asked for no money and was based on a 14th Amendment argument that depriving any person the right to run a business without due process was unconstitutional. Gavrilov dropped the suit when restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining in Sacramento in mid-January.
“What happened to property rights? The little guys got crushed by the on-again, off- again shutdowns,” Gavrilov says.
The remodeled wine bar has now reopened, and its owner is back to fighting for other little guys in his fulltime job.