GPSolo Magazine - March 2005
Voices of Experience
What is your background, and what inspired you to become a lawyer?
I was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona. Both my parents had only a high school education. My mother, who always stressed education to my two sisters and me, inspired me to become a lawyer. She claimed that was the first thing I ever said I wanted to be when I grew up—I guess it was my destiny.
What influenced your decision to pursue a general practice/solo/small firm career?
I was sort of forced into it when I was RIFed (reduction in force) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., along with 130 other attorneys. It happened a couple of years ago when the economy was down, there were no jobs, and no one was hiring. I decided to take the experience I had and venture out on my own. I knew I had the knowledge needed to represent clients in the area of trademark law.
What did you find hardest about setting up as a general practice/solo/small firm lawyer, and where did your biggest help come from?
I had the most trouble with the administrative, day-to-day tasks involved in setting up and running a solo practice. There are simply a lot of things to consider when setting up a practice. My biggest help actually came from GPSolo magazine. I had joined the Section the same year, and the magazine became my best resource for important information regarding practicing as a solo.
What early lawyer experiences have helped you in your career?
My experience at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office taught me all about trademark law, as well as how to deal with a number of different clients at the same time. On any given day, I dealt with at least ten different clients.
Whom do you most admire?
My mother, who passed away ten years ago, was the best possible role model—she led by example. In my profession, I admire those attorneys who have made a real difference through their efforts and done incredible work for under-represented minorities.
What was the best professional advice you ever received?
Solo practice doesn’t have to mean “all by yourself.” Use the resources available, particularly through the local, state, and national bar associations. It’s important to have a professional network.
Who or what got you started with ABA and/or GP|Solo Section involvement?
I was involved as a lieutenant governor with the Law Student Division of the ABA when I was in law school, but I didn’t re-involve myself until a couple of years ago. Joseph Manalili helped me get back involved with the ABA, and Benes Aldana helped me get involved with the GP|Solo Section.
What can the ABA and/or GP|Solo Section do to be a good home to young lawyers?
The Section does a great job reaching out to young attorneys. My experience as a Diversity Fellow with the Section has been outstanding. The people of the Section are very welcoming. The Section works very hard and is usually a leader in terms of programs and resources it provides for its members.
What personality trait has served you best through the years?
I’m easygoing. I try to keep stress in my life to a minimum.
What is the one thing you cannot stand regarding the law/lawyers?
We as a profession (including myself) still do not do enough for the under-represented—the poor and those who cannot afford legal counsel. More than 200 years since the founding of the country, we still have not achieved “equal justice under law,” the famous statement atop the U.S. Supreme Court Building.
What advice would you give new lawyers?
• Find an area of law that excites you.
• Get involved with local, state, or national bar associations. They provide great leadership opportunities and training.
• Develop and use your professional resources and network.