1) What brought you to law school?
My parents were both in the legal profession, and as a kid what they did seemed so boring to me—I swore I would never go to law school. Then as a Political Science major in college, I took several statute-based courses and ended up writing my thesis on reforming the Immigration Nationality Act. This opened my eyes to (a) how interesting and important our legal system is to shaping our society, and (b) that law school was a necessity.
2) Please describe the position(s) you held on BTLJ and when.
General Member (2010-2011)
Articles Editor (2011-2012)
Managing Editor (aka Mama Esch) (2012-2013)
3) Please describe your most memorable law school moment.
I would have to pick the Ed Board Tahoe trip my 2L year (hat tip to Aaron). There was eighties neon, settlers, and bonding with amazing people. But it was the smaller moments that really made law school—mentoring a 1L as Managing Editor or ASP tutor, office hours with a professor (Angel is right, take advantage!), and hanging out with friends at Zeb or Bacchus.
4) Please describe your current professional position and your journey there. (Feel free to include hyperlinks to exciting projects you may want our site visitors to see.)
I am a fourth year litigation associate at Gibson Dunn in San Francisco. Nearly as soon as I walked in the doors of Boalt (and what other people probably seen in me since childhood), I knew I wanted to be a litigator—both trial and appellate. I have had the good fortune to be on three trials in my first three years, and just had my first appellate argument. About a third of my work is IP/tech related, a third labor, and a third constitutional. I also spend a significant amount of time on pro bono work including criminal defense as part of the CJA bar, eviction defense, representation of students in expulsion proceedings, and asylum representation.
5) What are some lessons you learned from participating in BTLJ that are relevant to your professional life?
First, working with people you like is key to your life happiness. I joined BTLJ because I was interested in soft IP and privacy, but I stayed involved because I liked the people so much. This becomes more important as you move into a workplace. The type of work and subject matter are not irrelevant, but if the people do not treat you well or don’t set up the team for success, you will be miserable no matter how engaging the content.
Second, management is a skill, and one that is often lacking in the legal profession. Take advantage of small scale opportunities in law school to learn how to become a better manager. It will make your life better and the lives of the people who work for you.
6) What advice do you have for current law students?
Take advantage of what Boalt has to offer you. For me that meant, Bill Fernholz’s Appellate Advocacy class, the Lefkowitz Trademark Moot Court, and Trial Practicum with Judge White and Judge Brown. These prepared me for what I have done in practice more than almost any other class (admissibility means something and most lawyers don’t understand that soon enough). But also don’t ignore the bar classes. If you want to be a litigator, Contracts, Civil Procedure (and more advance Civ Pro classes), and Constitutional Law are critical fundamentals to your practice. I still on occasion reference my outlines from law school classes as a starting point to research questions (yes, I am that nerd).
7) What is one piece of advice you would give to new lawyers?
I would still consider myself a newish lawyer, but to those just starting at law firms, don’t forget to look out for yourself and opportunities that can help you develop as a lawyer. Also, take advantage of pro bono opportunities both as a way to give back to our communities but also as a chance to develop skills.