Like most things in life, the answer, I suppose, is influences.
“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” –Charles Lamb, English Essayist.
I was born in San Francisco, CA. While growing up my mom was a telegraph clerk for Western Union at the branch on San Francisco’s Montgomery Street that catered to attorneys. Telegrams back then were used much like emails are used today. So, when I would go to her work after school I would get to know a good many attorneys. They were frequently friendly to me, some of whom became “pals.” Thus, in my book as a kid, becoming a lawyer was second only to becoming a San Francisco Giant or 49er.
I was a teenager in San Francisco in the late 60s. So, let’s just say that I had the run-of-the mill counter-culture and rock n’ roll influences. Besides all that, I lucked out and snagged a seat at the murder trial of Black Panther Huey Newton. I saw defense lawyer Charles Geary in action. That was, indeed, an influence to see in action such a supreme gladiator of the courtroom. Though, the “good guys” also had an influence on me. Shortly thereafter, I saw a great prosecutor Bud Meloling single handedly take on two of the best defense lawyers and trounce them. Later on, I had the privilege of Bud befriending me. At that time both those great trial lawyers had been practicing law 25-30 years. That should have been a clue to me that one doesn’t become a good lawyer overnight. A clue I overlooked, thankfully, or I might never have started law school.
The idealism of the 60s mandated to those of us selecting professions in the 70s, to solve social problems. So, off I went to San Jose State University where in 1977 I received my bachelor degree in criminal justice administration to become knowledgeable about the social problem of crime . While an undergraduate I developed an innovative law enforcement management concept which was published in a national law enforcement periodical. Not exactly putting on a cape and fighting crime, but I received $75.00 and it made interesting for me the most boring subject of management.
At about the time of graduation, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department hired me. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a supervisory position in the Identification Bureau. Of course, there was the “B” plan of following the career path of a deputy sheriff and dealing with belligerent people at the county jail.
Thus, I decided to learn fingerprints. Indeed, I even took advanced FBI courses and became a fingerprint expert. The Sheriff, however, once gave me a crime-fighter type commendation because I apprehended two armed robbers while I was unarmed off-duty. I tried telling everybody I didn’t know the robbers were armed, lest they think I was crazy, but the Sheriff gave me the commendation just the same. Anyhow, I was content with my career decision, but just content. The lawyer influences in my life were seducing me like a Siren’s song.
I woke up one Saturday morning and took the LSAT. I looked around at the law schools whereby I could keep my job while attending. Lest my then wife and two kids would have had to sacrifice while I pursued that jealous mistress – the law. I learned Charles Geary had graduated from San Francisco Law School. Also, so did the great civil trial lawyer Marvin Lewis. Heck, he convinced a jury that a woman had become a nymphomaniac in a cable car accident. That was good enough for me. Also, I learned that some heavy-duty politicians had graduated from there too. Like the original Governor Brown, Jerry’s dad, Pat. As well as a Lieutenant Governor Leo T. McCarthy. So, I thought, if I failed as a lawyer I could always become a politician.
Therefore, off I went to San Francisco Law School. Like most first year students, I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into. Surely, lawyers didn’t brief 100 cases per week. Anyhow, at the end of first year, I received an award for being tops in my class. That told me I might have a knack for the law, so I hung in there. I indeed graduated and passed the Bar exam.
My first job was here in the Tri-Valley which was beginning to grow. Thus, I stayed and my practice has grown with it over the past 32 years.
Anyhow that’s how and why I became a lawyer.