Tell us your story. What kind of law do you practice? How did you get to where you are today?
I practice employment and business litigation. On the employment side my practice is focused primarily on wage and hour litigation on behalf of employees, however I do also handle wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment and discrimination claims. A smaller part of my practice is representing small to midsize employers in defending these same claims. As a business litigator, I handle a lot of partnership disputes, or "business divorces" as we sometimes call them, as well as commercial and contractual lawsuits.
When I started law school I didn't have a clue what type of law I wanted to practice. One day I met with an experienced attorney who practiced in litigation and he compared being a litigation attorney to playing sports because of the competitive nature of the job. Just like on a baseball diamond or football field, in the courtroom the goal is to defeat the other side. There is something special about the adversarial process of our legal system because it forces you as an attorney strive for victory on behalf of your client, just like an athlete does their best so that their team can win. When I thought about it like that, I knew I wanted to be a litigator.
My first job in law school was as an intern with the Superior Court's Family Law Facilitator's office, and while I liked gaining exposure to the Court, I soon found out that family law wasn't for me. I then ended up working at a civil litigation firm that had a broad range of practice areas, which was a wonderful experience as a law student because it allowed me to get a taste of numerous areas of law so that I could determine which ones I wanted to focus my career on. Over four years later, I'm still with that same firm, Webb Law Group, and I feel like I have found my niche practicing employment and business litigation.
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
Growing up I always liked reading and writing, and that is primarily what lawyers do. Although now I realize that there is a lot of math involved in the practice of law, when I was younger I thought that I could escape math and other subjects that I didn't like by entering the legal field. Ultimately, I think I was searching for a career that allowed me to do the things that I had enjoyed.
I was a history and political science major in college and I really only ever seriously considered becoming an attorney or a teacher. One of my favorite parts of my job now is teaching our interns and passing along knowledge that I have acquired over the years, and a part of me still hopes to teach in some form one day. Ultimately the challenge of being an attorney won out and I decided that going to law school and then practicing law was going to push me to be the best version of myself. I've always thought that there is a certain degree of prestige that comes along with being an attorney because they put in a lot of hard work and long hours to give their clients the best service that they can. I really respect that about the profession. I think the high standards of the legal field drew me to this career.
Was it a smooth road becoming a lawyer and getting to where you are now? If not, what are some of the struggles you encountered?
In some respects, I am truly fortunate because I have been afforded so many great opportunities and I have not had to struggle to the extent that many people have. My family, especially my parents and fiancée, have always been very supportive and helped me get to where I am today and I am very thankful to them for that.
That being said, there are always challenges. When I was younger, school had always been somewhat easy for me and I had coasted my way through college with minimal effort. It was a culture shock for me when I started law school and the expectation was that we were supposed to eat, sleep, and breathe the law for the next three years. Coming straight from college to law school, it was a major adjustment for me because law school is so much more academically intense. There were plenty of nights I spent out at the bars with my friends that I should have spent in the library studying, and in hindsight I know that I made plenty of immature mistakes like that in law school. It took me a long time to learn that I needed to treat law school like it was my job.
My biggest struggle as a young lawyer has also been the transition. As I have moved on from law student to attorney, there have been times when it has been difficult for me to adapt to working life and the long hours that this job can sometimes require. My firm has a good work life balance, but there are times when I wish I could be with my family and friends more. It's a hard situation for any attorney because we have a duty to our clients to perform our jobs for them to the best of our abilities, and sometimes that means sacrificing in other aspects of our lives.
What are you most proud of as a lawyer? What sets your practice apart from others? What do you love the most about what you do?
My favorite part of being a lawyer is when I represent employees who have been wronged and I am able to deliver the news that we've obtained compensation for them. A lot of the employees that I represent are lower income and when we are able to reach a settlement or win a case for them, I can tell that the money we recover for them makes a real impact in their lives. There is something so fulfilling about knowing that I helped serve justice and righted a wrong. It makes me proud as an attorney to know that I am making a difference in their lives.
What I like about my practice is that my firm is very focused on learning and development. Even the most experienced attorneys are always still learning. As a second year attorney, I still have so much to learn. The beautiful thing is that in my practice I am in a position to constantly improve myself as an attorney. As a law clerk at my firm, two years before becoming an attorney, the managing partner, Lenden F. Webb, gave me extensive practical training so that as soon as passed the bar I was ready to hit the ground running. I'm 26 years old now and I have first chaired 5 trials already, which I think is rare. Because our work environment is so focused on developing well-trained attorneys even while they are still in law school, I was ready to face these challenges head on. I'm proud that in my practice we are now giving the next wave of young attorneys this same opportunity and equipping them with the tools that they will need to succeed as well.
If you could change, improve or disrupt one thing about the practice of law, what would it be?
I think there are so many barriers to obtaining legal assistance and oftentimes the economics of the situation leave people in a position where they cannot afford legal representation. Sometimes it's not economically feasible for the attorney to take their case on and that stops the potential client from being able to pursue their claims. I see this a lot in cases that should be contingency cases, but the dollar amounts sought by the prospective plaintiff are not high enough to justify involvement from an attorney because once the money is split between the client and attorney, both would have taken large losses on the case. I think expanding the types of cases where attorney's fees are available as a remedy would allow people more access to attorneys.
What are you doing when you're not lawyering?
Spending time with my beautiful fiancée Lauren and my long-haired dachshund Apollo! I really love house and techno music and I secretly wish I could be a DJ. I'm also a huge San Diego Padres fan so I spend a lot of my time watching baseball and convincing myself that even though they've missed the playoffs the last 13 years that one of these years they'll win it all.