In the past year, a few of the many law firm associates, junior partners and in-house lawyers I mentor have encouraged me to use a blog to dig deeper than the character limit of my LinkedIn posts on building a successful career as a diverse business lawyer. I love to write, to tell stories, and to help young lawyers of color design and build the careers they want. My own has had many highs and lows, all of which have made me a better, more resourceful and successful lawyer. My goal is to share hard-earned lessons from my perspective and to celebrate some of the many business lawyers of color who inspire me—in-house, at large, and small law firms, ranging in experience from just a few years to north of thirty—all over the country.
I am an employment and business trial lawyer based in Los Angeles. More than 25 years ago, with less than 5 years of experience as a lawyer, I started my own firm with my friend, David Sanchez. My current client base is Fortune 500 companies and large non-profit organizations, and my employment law team at Sanchez & Amador is comprised of former large firm lawyers with top credentials. They’ve done secondments at companies like Google, Snap, and NBC/Universal. Our approach is to collaborate with our clients to deliver wins and exceptional client service, rather than simply process cases. And my greatest professional joy is to be of service by mentoring young lawyers of color at large and small firms and in-house from across the U.S.
My resume? I did well enough at UCLA (Go Bruins!) to gain admission to UC Berkeley School of Law on a full-ride scholarship. Two years of misery at a large law firm, then a few great years at a boutique litigation shop before starting Sanchez & Amador. Luckily, my founding partner had a paying client because my starting docket was two pro bono cases. Oh, and I looked like I wasn’t old enough to shave yet, so let’s just say the clients weren’t knocking the door down and I didn’t make much money. But my founding partner and I were committed (and heck, we had the time) to deliver stellar work product, exceptional client service, and to be creative in finding solutions to difficult legal problems. Now, Sanchez & Amador is fortunate enough to represent several of the most recognizable tech, manufacturing and service companies in America. I get a huge thrill talking to juries, taking depositions, and cross examining witnesses. Teaching lawyers to take killer depositions, build a case theme, tell a compelling story to judge or jury, and devastate prevaricators on cross—all that stuff is really fun for me.
I’ve been on several boards, including the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms, California Minority Counsel Program, and the National Employment Law Council (NELC). It was through the NELC Academy, which I helped start and build, that I exponentially increased the number of diverse lawyers I mentor all over the country. These are the best of the best young lawyers of color in the U.S. practicing management-side labor and employment law. Sharing my skills with them, learning from their experience and career triumphs and stumbles, all have made me a better leader, lawyer, and mentor.
But all of that doesn’t explain why I so enjoy a professional life enriched by so many friendships with so many extraordinary lawyers all over the country. Many years ago, I coined a phrase which I believe best encapsulates my approach to my professional friendships. I am an “opportunity multiplier.” This blog will, I hope, both explain and exemplify what that means.
Random Deets: I do no social media other than LinkedIn and now this blog. My favorite indulgence is a pastrami sandwich with a bold, full-bodied Cabernet. IMHO the California sparkling wines are just as good as anything from Champagne. Single-malt Scotch beats bourbon hands down. I’ve been married almost 25 years to a blazingly smart woman with a successful career as an environmental engineer, and we are blessed with two equally amazing daughters. They are all very patient with me as I spend a few hours every weekend squeezing in calls with lawyers I mentor. I enjoy gardening (often while on said mentoring calls) and sharing the joy of the oft-forgotten m-dash—the most ill-used and underappreciated punctuation mark in the writer’s quiver. Go Steelers!