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Rasing the Bar at 75+: Attorney, Actor, Singer at 79

It seems Gene Gambale has been a lawyer all of his life. Born and raised in New York City, Gene graduated from Fordham University Law School, pursuing his law degree while he worked full-time. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1971. That’s 52 years of lawyering.

Gene could have retired 20 years ago but, as he says,

“Why would I? I have the best of all lives.” In 1977, Gene moved to California with his wife, Donna, and daughters Jennifer and Erica to accept a job offer with a large oil company.

I was lucky to have many exciting experiences of such a variety and notoriety that most lawyers never dream of. I traveled extensively internationally and helped negotiate an oil deal with the Chinese government as well as a variety of transactions with other foreign governments and international companies.

Commuting to my office in Washington DC from Los Angeles and participating in high-level government activities was very energizing. It’s quite a high to be on a first-name basis with presidents and governors plus quite satisfying to help pass laws and ballot propositions.


In California, Gene established a relationship with an Indian tribe and became their general counsel. This put him in contact with Governor Gray Davis in the negotiation of a compact with the Indians. Gene was successful in negotiating the first large Indian casino in the area. This work even got him involved with Donald Trump.


After Gene first retired, he accepted a request from a business owner whom he knew from his casino days to do some part-time work for his company. “Years later, I’m still at it. I just enjoy the constant intellectual challenges and stimulation.”


Recently, after years of contentious litigation, Gene helped settle a case for a client suing a large insurance company. The insurance company had refused to settle a multi-million-dollar claim.


Gene recognizes, “It was truly a David-Goliath situation. In such cases, you can sue the insurance company for more than the underlying claim.” Because the settlement is confidential, Gene can’t reveal the details. But his client was happy.


Gene and his wife, Donna, have been residents of Sun City Shadow Hills, in Indio, California since 2004. They both have been active in Community Singers and the Performing Arts Club. Since 2006, Gene has performed every year in one or two plays. Gene is still thriving at the age of 79, “going on 18,” he reminds us. To all who are retiring or thinking about it, Gene has some advice:


Never, ever refrain from doing something just because you think you are too old. If you want to do it, and you are capable — DO IT!


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