“Because the law, my boy, puts us into everything. It's the ultimate backstage pass.” -- Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy (screenwriters of the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves)
After leaving journalism, I next entered the law. And, although taking several hiatuses from it, as is obvious on this website, I've returned like a boomerang to the law more than once. The talent flow between law and journalism is a well-worn highway, as they are cousins of each other, employing a nearly identical skills set: writing, investigation, interviewing, etc. Indeed, all of us can name at least one movie in which a journalist and an attorney collaborate or compete to acquire "smoking gun" evidence about a person or thing. In the end, some leave the law for journalism (e.g., Glenn Greenwald); some leave journalism for the law (e.g., Victoria Stilwell); and, some straddle the two (e.g., Judith Armatta).
Since January 2008 I've served as a senior team leader at a "David" law firm that routinely battles pretty vicious "Goliaths" in Silicon Valley. For those with a warrior spirit who love a good fight (but without fists, knives or guns of course), few things are funner, and nothing scarier too, than being part of a small (5 people or less) private law firm litigation/ trial team. Sometimes it feels like that line from Mission Impossible: "if you are killed or captured, the Secretary will disavow and knowledge of your actions." Indeed, unlike being part of a large federal or state prosecution team or big law firm litigation team, you're all alone. There's no large organization depth or "air support", so to speak, to help out or rescue you and your colleagues if you get overwhelmed. And, the stakes are high. A losing verdict can be an existential threat to a small law firm, and occasionally an angry client will take things from the frying pan into the fire by alleging over-billing or malpractice after a loss.
Beyond the normal day-to-day mundane Law stuff, my peak moments, notable achievements, and high points include (not an exhaustive list):
- an insider to 90+ Silicon Valley lawyered-up HR crises while serving on advocacy teams helping individual plaintiff employees (including 3 public company CEOs, at least 7 private company CEOs, over 20 CFOs, COOs and SVPs, as well as scores of software engineers, scientists/ inventors, founders, salespeople, secretaries, manufacturing managers, attorneys, I.T. personnel, HR directors, administrative assistants, and others) assert their claims amidst push-backs from usually various Big Tech companies' hired guns (people who are arguably the most cunning and ruthless legal and HR minds on the planet). Such companies include the biggest names in: social media; pics/ videos sharing; short characters messaging; electric cars; VR; cell phones; biotech; vaping; enterprise software & cloud computing; multimedia, image editing & creativity software; networking equipment; on-line auctioning & e-commerce; on-line payments systems; medical devices; billionaire "family offices"; flash memory products; SaaS; semiconductors & microprocessors; VCs; games; telecommunications; space/ astronautical systems; web & mobile applications; search engines; consumer electronics; and others.
- 35x+ a senior member of legal teams providing consulting and advocacy services to companies (many cyclically as repeat/ regular clients) in regards to HR compliance, pre-litigation & litigated business disputes, California LLC registration and LLC manager(s)/ member(s) and ownership structuring, and related matters. The organizations served include: an art gallery; a pharmaceutical company; several game companies; a food distributor; the "family office" of a former founder/ CEO of an oil company; a motorcycle components company; a liquor store; a realtor firm; a promotional items/ "see before you buy" company; a law firm; a veterinary clinic; a beer brewery; a mortgage brokerage company; a medical billing service; a specialty foods company; an engineering firm; a soft drink/ beverage company; a VR company; a clinical statistical programming company (serving biotech and medical devices customers); and others.
- 4x a team-member of jury & bench trials in civil courts (for more information, click here) and 2x monitored trials (one involving a premeditated murder, the other an inheritance/ wrongful death case) for Lloyds of London and domestic insurance carriers.
- a ghostwriter for several attorneys, crafting for them robust first drafts of: 40+ lawsuits/ complaints; 100+ law & motion briefs (including opening motions, oppositions and replies); 200+ propounding party and responding party discovery documents; 100+ settlement, severance and separation agreements; 25+ mediation briefs; 12+ employee handbooks; and, 1,000+ major email or letter (e.g., meet-and-confer, demand, etc.) correspondence.
- 50x+ coordinating with process servers and private investigators the serving of summons & complaint papers, subpoenas, and other legal documents on businesses and individuals, including some very difficult and potentially dangerous serves on known confrontational or belligerent persons.