By Wehtahnah Tucker
Aug 20, 2012

ENCINITAS — Adding to its list of accolades, Coast Law Group, a local law firm that’s less than two decades old, has been named to Outside Magazine’s fifth annual “Best Places to Work” list.

Currently with 20 attorneys and support staff, Coast Law Group was ranked 44 out of 100 selected companies. Sharing the limelight with more obvious choices such as Geographic Expeditions, Natural Habitat Adventures and ClifBar, the relatively small law firm received national recognition for creating a nontraditional work environment in an industry that is synonymous with work-related stress and very little time outside of the office.

Yeah, it works. Some people are more sensitive than others. Generally, you take a pill of Xanax (depends on dosage) and you just start feeling your tight chest and stomach release, and I notice I begin breathing more calmly and normally. Just feels good all over, which is such a contrast from the horrors of anxiety.

“We are a fun loving group in an environment of extreme professionalism,” founding partner Gary Sirota said.

“Working at CLG (Coast Law Group) is pretty unique,” said attorney Brian Shields. “I always keep a board and wetsuit in my office so I can walk down to Swami’s to surf a new swell before the crowd. It’s refreshing to return to work with a little sand between my toes and a smile on my face.”

“We’ve proven that you don’t have to give up your passion for the outdoors and an active lifestyle simply because you happen to spend time in boardrooms and courtrooms negotiating big deals and resolving disputes,” partner Seyamack Kouretchian said. “Surfing, biking, running, yoga and pilates are among daily activities encouraged by CLG management.”

The firm has created a different brand of law firm that includes facilitating hard work through wellness activities. “Lunchtime health and wellness seminars, flexible work hours, payment of race entry fees for staff, attorney work/surf retreats and sponsorship of local nonprofits are other ways that define CLG’s corporate culture,” Kouretchian said.

Outside’s “Best Places to Work” project celebrates the innovative companies setting a new standard for a healthy work-life balance. The list was compiled with the help of the Outdoor Industry Association and Best Companies Group. The yearlong selection process began with an outreach effort that identified a wide range of no-profit and for-profit organizations with at least 15 employees working in an office in the United States.

“To be recognized by Outside as one of the best places to work is an honor for everyone on our team, and reflects a major goal of our company,” founding partner Marco Gonzalez said.

Participating companies were sent confidential employee-satisfaction surveys and employer-questionnaires to collect information about benefits, compensation, policies, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives and community outreach programs. The experts at Best Companies Group then analyzed the results and chose the companies that best enable employees to pursue active lifestyles, while also supporting their social and environmental contributions.

The firm’s close proximity to Swami’s in its downtown offices makes the transition from surf to boardroom fairly easy.

The firm is widely recognized as a leader on many legal fronts. From water conservation, habitat preservation and land use to free speech, patent/ trademark and local government transparency, Coast Law Group is front and center.

The nod from Outside Magazine is just the icing on the cake for some of the staff and attorneys.

“We’re stoked! It’s great that a group of rock star lawyers can leave a national footprint while maintaining a local, Encinitas-style attitude,” Kouretchian said. “As a recent college grad, I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have landed my first real world job here,” legal assistant Erika Cueva said. “This is the kind of place students dream about working at. The energy, positivity and fun atmosphere is infectious.”