Early in my career, I believed my legal education ended at law school graduation. I now believe it will end on the day I pack up my office to retire. Throughout my career, I have been a perpetual student. This is in part because I have had a wide variety of jobs: I have worked as a government prosecutor, in academia, and in private practice. Each stage of my career has demanded that I learn new areas of the law and new skills.
For 12 years, I worked as an assistant United States attorney in the Criminal Division of U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. Because of the autonomy that federal prosecutors enjoy, I grew enormously as a young attorney. I learned how to be an effective trial lawyer and how to be nimble and comfortable on my feet in court. I wrote countless briefs and argued them in district court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But prosecutors have no clients as such and no need to develop business. While prosecutors are often efficient because they lack resources, they have no information about the business aspects of practicing law.
When I left the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I worked as a clinical professor at UCLA Law School. Because I was on the tenure track I pursued academic writing. My practical legal skills had no currency at UCLA; rather, conceptual analysis, discussion, and writing were highly prized. I spent two years reading and critiquing law review articles and navigating through a new and thoroughly foreign institutional environment.
I then left UCLA and joined O’Melveny & Myers, where I began my education anew. Twelve years later, I am a veteran of private practice. I have become accomplished at business development, billing and collections, and client relations, although I still have much to learn. I have become a civil litigator as well as a criminal practitioner. At the same time, I have recently become involved in firm management. These responsibilities have led me to focus on the operation of the firm itself as a business. And so my education continues.