April 2016

The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Got

By Lizzette Herrera Castellanos

University of San Diego School of Law

I often tell students and alumni that they should not make major career decisions without consulting previous supervisors, professors, and attorneys they admire. I won’t make a major move without checking in with at least five people. In addition, I tell students that those attorneys out in the trenches hold a lot of information, and they should also consult with someone in the area of law relevant to their decision. Advice from seasoned attorneys is invaluable. Some insights, though, transcend specific areas of law. When asked about the best piece of advice that they ever received, here is what some San Diego attorneys told me:

Unwavering persistence is key to success as a litigator and trial lawyer. You need to always present and perform as a persistent, energetic, always-on, zealous, advocate for your client. Anything less is a disservice to your client and your cause.
- James Crosby, Partner, Henderson, Caverly, Pum & Charney, LLP

Cases rise or fall on the details.
- Loren Freestone, Partner, Higgs Fletcher Mack

You can't take care of your clients, if you're not taking care of yourself.
- Renée Galente, Owner, Galente Law

It’s not the law firm that establishes your reputation, it is your integrity, hard work, and zealous advocacy. Be true to these values because a "good" reputation sustains a law career for life.
- Olga Álvarez, Partner, Heisner & Alvarez

Your reputation is everything especially in San Diego, a small legal community. Be good to people, submit good briefs, and get involved.
- Monica Sullivan, Federal Clerk to Judge Lorenz

Arriving to court early and being over-prepared is the best way to conquer nervousness.
- Julie Remer, Grenier Consulting

It is important to have mentors. The legal profession is very rewarding but it is also very demanding and daunting for new lawyers. Having a mentor changes everything. If you are lucky enough, you will have a mentor early on. But if not, go out and find one. Don’t sit back and wait for it to happen. And don’t forget to pay it forward. It’s never too early or too late to serve as a mentor.
- Eran Bermudez, UCSD Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination

Be careful but don’t worry about making mistakes. Just remember that it is someone’s full-time job to make sure you are wrong.
- Randy Reliford, Assistant Dean, Whittier School of Law, Office of Career and Professional Development