Profiles: Edgar Quezada
Associate Attorney at Hanna Brophy LLP
What's something special or interesting about Edgar's background before he started law school?
Born in Oakland, Edgar moved to Gaudalajara Jalisco in central Mexico at the age of nine and lived there until he came back to the US for college. Edgar worked for ten years as a paralegal prior to starting law school. Immediately before law school he worked for six years at a medium-sized litigation firm here in San Francisco. He describes his co-workers there as "a fantastic group" and credits them with encouraging him to go to law school:
I wanted to do it. One thing led to another. I was busy with travel and they encouraged me to take some time off to take the LSAT. Before that, the first four years after undergrad was a large sized firm that did mostly litigation down in Palo Alto. I was also a paralegal there, a lower level paralegal, which was a great experience. I got to travel a little bit and got a feel for transactional work as well as litigation.
Why did Edgar decide to go to law school?
Edgar's interest in law started in undergrad where he earned his degree in political science and minored in Latin languages. He had originally planned to get an internship and start applying to law schools immediately out of college but got recruited out of undergrad to work at a program in Palo Alto:
I really got absorbed in the world of litigation. It was great but after working there for a while, I became discouraged and thought that this might not be the field I want to go into; just because I was in a "burner" firm. It was great experience but I was working 14 and 16 hours a day on average, as a paralegal. I even had a sleeping bag under my desk that I used frequently.
I was looking for something slower pace and to be closer to home because I was commuting from Oakland all the way to Palo Alto six, sometimes seven, days a week. I stumbled upon this firm here in the city and when I asked one of my references if I could use her (she was already working in house at a company after working at the firm in Palo Alto) she said, as a matter of fact, this new firm was handling a case for them so she put in a good word for me. So it worked out beautifully. After the first year, I was comfortable and I liked it and in the next year I thought this is definitely something I wanted to do.
Switching to the new firm in San Francisco made a huge difference for Edgar. He enjoyed the trial work he did as a paralegal, but he knew he wanted to pursue law school. Although he kept getting "sucked into one trial or another" which delayed his law school plans, Edgar eventually made the time to study for the LSAT and apply to law school.
What has been something special or interesting about Edgar's law school experience?
Edgar has found the members of the GGU Law community students, faculty and staff to be warm, welcoming and approachable:
From day one, when I had the 1L jitters of "am I doing the right thing?," "am I in the right place?," once I set foot in the classroom and started meeting the people around me and listened to the people that were speaking, they definitely made me feel that this is the place for me. Before applying to school, I already befriended one of the librarians and she became good friends with my wife. So that's an interesting coincidence. Another coincidence was when I saw Jay [Bijlani, Assistant Director of Bar Exam Services] last year because he used to work at the firm I worked at in San Francisco. I saw him on a regular basis, though we didn't work together.
Edgar has also enjoyed the experience he's gained while in law school. He held an internship at a small real estate/ landlord-tenant firm one summer where one of the partners is a Golden Gate alumnus. He did some volunteer transcriptions and translations for a non-profit, employment rights organization in the Mission and just completed two semester-long internships at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When asked how he found these opportunities, Edgar replied:
I branched out and met some people there. After going out for coffee on two occasions, they brought me to the office to show me where they work and the supervisor asked me when I was starting. I said, "How about next week?" since it was a Friday. It worked out. I wasn't looking for an internship, it just happened.
Making personal connections networking is important to Edgar. After his years of work experience, he understands the value of getting to know potential employers and colleagues. He says, "before applying to somewhere I try to meet someone in the organization or firm to get familiar with the people within." Finding a good fit for work is crucial:
I have enough horror stories. I don't want to make new ones. I'm sure I'm going to be working hard, long hours. I know that after graduating and starting work somewhere, even though I have 10 years experience in the legal field, I was a paralegal, not an attorney, so I know I will have to earn my stripes. Knowing that, I'm okay doing the work as long as it's appreciated. What made the difference between one firm and the other is that at one place I was appreciated and the other place it was expected. That's why I decided to come [to GGU] because I felt appreciated and I liked it. The thrill, the adrenaline, the excitement.
What is Edgar's greatest source of motivation/support during law school?
Edgar finds support in the people around him:
I'm not going to lie. It's hard. It's different. It's new. Nobody in my family comes from a backgroundnobody in my family has ever gone to law school. I'm the first one. Especially here in the United States. I have a few family members in Mexico [with] some preparation, but not law school. It's definitely an experience trying to explain to them that I'm very busy, it's also very challenging. They are very supportive. My wife has been extremely supportive, financially, emotionally, psychologically, everything. She's been there. I've had my tough times, but she's always been the hope. Rather than doing what you're doing, let's figure out what this is and let's fix this.
And he's found that the GGU community is a great source of support, as well:
In my first year I was afraid/hesitant because, even though it's been 10 years since undergrad, I come from a big school where it was difficult, almost impossible, to get to know the professor. But here, it's like, "Well, maybe should I go to office hours? What if they don't answer my question? Will they send me on a goose chase?" I had that fear, but now I know that I can approach a professor and if the professor is not available there are other services that are just as helpful and that has made a huge impact on making the life of a law student much better.
What is Edgar's favorite thing you do when not at law school?
Edgar enjoys spending time with his family and non-law school friends. He stated, "I love everyone here, but I also had a life before law school, so I try to catch up with them." He also likes getting out to do physical activities whenever he can like bike riding, surfing, and snowboarding in the Sierras in the winter.
What is Edgar's advice for his fellow law students?
I would suggest that if they've made it this far, if they're already in law school, then that's one sign they are doing the right thing. They are on the track that they originally intended. Yes, there are going to be difficulties and they will encounter challenges, but the challenges you encounter in law school are no comparison to the challenges you will encounter in the profession, or in any other occupation, so it's better to face them, deal with them and after dealing with them (if they continue to feel the same way, then maybe this isn't the right option) but don't give up. Don't just run away. Deal with them and, if nothing else, it'll make them a better person.
If he wasn't in law school right now, what would Edgar be doing?
Edgar would probably have stayed working as a paralegal, but would still want to attend law school. ("That's for sure!") Although it took him a little longer than he'd initially anticipated, he knows that law school and the legal profession is the right path for him and he would have kept pursuing it until he achieved his goal.
What does Edgar plan to do after law school?
Though nothing is certain at this point, Edgar is looking at some potential opportunities with family friends, former employers and other people he's met along the way:
I'm not going to put all of my eggs in one basket. I'm going to keep my options open. I've been networking for 2 1/2 years, so I've made enough acquaintances so if nothing else I can always approach someone and ask them, "Hey, do you know of anything open?" I've found that's worked for me. That's actually how I found my previous jobs. Just by going out and meeting people and being referred to places.