Because my expertise is important, let me offer this biographical sketch. I have actively practiced law since 1983, in San Diego, California, starting right after graduating in the top 10% of my class from UCLA School of Law. That achievement was especially sweet because I was fifteen years post-college, with two small children and no job. While taking the California State Bar, I truly thought I would conquer evil and bring feast to the poor and hungry. Full of idealism, I began a career that seemed to conquer nothing but me, first at a large law firm, then at a midsized firm, and then down to a two-person litigation firm, hoping against hope that maybe a smaller firm setting would lead to a happier life. During that time, I represented individuals and small businesses in a variety of business, personal, real estate, insurance, contract, and legal malpractice disputes, as well as jury trials and appeals.
Objectively, I held a good law career in my hands, but I couldn’t kick the malaise that seemed to come with representing clients in disputes. Eventually (finally!), after litigating for 16 years, I decided to focus on what I liked to do, which was to counsel ordinary people regarding what they should do with their disputes. I call my practice “counseling at law.” And my goal is to find prelitigation solutions for my clients, helping them when I can and pointing them to a good litigator when I can’t. In keeping with the “Advisor” hat, I earned a mediation credential in San Diego, and I like helping people who can’t find a lawyer; mostly I like that I am free of the stress and anxiety that surrounds a traditional law practice. Although I am qualified for a lucrative partnership in a BigLaw firm, that would not make me happy. And I believe, more than anything, we must be happy at anything we do for ten-hours each day.
Throughout my life, I have been drawn to help people solve problems – finding myself teaching elementary school, being elected to a four-year term of the Clark County (Las Vegas) School Board, earning a real estate license in Nevada, and becoming divorced and the only responsible parent of two small children through all of that. No moss has ever gathered under my feet. After practicing for more than twenty years, I authored a four-hundred-page book for consumers, explaining our legal system, titled “Litigation – Insult to Injury: What Judges and Lawyers Know about the Legal System That You Don’t.” Admittedly cynical, I paint a fully documented set of truths about our legal system, which can leave litigants adrift and their lawyers broken. Today, I am furthering that same theme, namely one of addressing lawyer malaise, because things don’t have to be that way.
I have meditated daily since 1999, enjoy cooking, movies, being with friends and family, reading nonfiction, and puzzling over the choices people make that get them into trouble and the karma that gets involved in the outcomes. After looking at my own failings and changing myself, I understand very well the causes of lawyer malaise and the quest for peace of mind.