Our Story


Payne & Fears was founded in 1992 in Orange County, California, by attorneys James L. Payne and Daniel F. Fears. The two young attorneys shared an entrepreneurial spirit and a successful experience working together at a large national law firm. They decided to team up and establish a new, more nimble law firm in Orange County. Working together, they leveraged their Big Law backgrounds and paired high-quality business representation with the agility of a smaller firm. Right out of the gate, the firm sought to establish long-standing client relationships and foster a culture of collaboration.

There was just one problem. After losing sleep over the intimidating sound of their combined surnames, they tossed a coin to decide whose name would come first in the firm’s name, and the law firm of Payne & Fears LLP was born. The novelty of this law firm’s name was wild enough to attract attention from late night talk show hosts. Jay Leno once quipped, “Why, here’s a frightening law firm. These are not people you want to meet in court!” Today, as our tagline indicates, “Our name gets attention. Our attorneys get results.”

We see ourselves as more than just lawyers—we are true advocates for, and friends with, our clients, making a point of familiarizing ourselves with all aspects of their businesses.

Despite our growth, Payne & Fears maintains great flexibility to meet our clients’ varied needs. Where appropriate, our experienced trial attorneys enthusiastically take a matter to trial; we love the thrill of victory.

What started as a small employment litigation boutique has now grown into a medium-sized regional law firm offering a suite of services across business, employment, and insurance law, and serving a wide variety of clients from small startups to Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries. In 2003, Payne & Fears LLP opened its doors in Los Angeles. In June 2004, the firm established its office in Las Vegas. The firm opened its San Francisco office to serve clients in Northern California in June 2006. In July 2012, the firm established its office in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the firm opened its Phoenix office in 2015. Our offices are staffed by highly skilled lawyers who are experienced in handling sophisticated, high-stakes matters, with many attorneys having formerly practiced with large national law firms. Our attorneys have the skills, experience, and education necessary to thoughtfully analyze our clients’ legal issues and develop unique strategies to bring about successful resolutions.

Though the firm has changed in many ways since 1992, the core principles of legal excellence and commitment to client service remain unchanged.

About Our Values

Community Involvement

We take seriously our obligation to give back to our communities and charitable organizations.

Read About Our Community Involvement

Our Commitment to Diversity

Our Diversity & Inclusion Team, together with the entire firm leadership, implements programs to reinforce our culture of welcoming, including, supporting and promoting diverse attorneys.

More About Our Diversity Efforts

Our Clients & What They Say

Read More