Take the road less traveled: Speak softly and carry a big stick

Craig graduated from California Western School of Law six years ago. He is currently a partner at DuFord Law, where he practices in the areas of Business, Employment, and Trust and Estates. Prior to opening his own firm, he practiced in civil litigation, insurance bad faith defense, personal injury defense, and insurance coverage.

Knowing the reality of practicing law would have led me to focus on less flashy classes like civil procedure and legal drafting.

1. What do you know now that you wish you had known as a 1L?

I wish I had known what it was really like to practice law.  I didn’t have any legal experience prior to going to law school, so I had no frame of reference.  Knowing the reality of practicing law would have led me to focus on less flashy classes like civil procedure and legal drafting.

2.  Are you doing now what you thought you would be doing when you were a graduating 3L? If not, why not? Is this a good thing?

I am not doing what I thought I would be doing when I was a graduating 3L.  When I graduated, I had a job with a well known Nevada civil litigation firm.  I had no idea what I was in for!  It is an amazing thing that I’m not doing what I thought I would be doing!  Running a business that helps other businesses and families is extremely rewarding. 

3.  Who were you in law school?

I was an anxious mess!  I was definitely not the kid who volunteered to talk in class.  I took school way too seriously my first year!  Looking back on it now, I would have told myself to just relax and be present.  However, as a 1L it’s impossible to see that with all the pressure put on you by teachers and fellow students.  

4.  What class or concentration do you wish you had taken that you didn’t?

I wish I took a class on the business of running a law firm.  It’s something that they should offer law students now.  I think more and more graduates are starting their own firms and having the opportunity to learn about the business side of it would have been extremely helpful.

5.  What tips do you have for the July bar exam takers?

Be a sheep!  That is the one thing I kept telling myself during my first bar exam.  Have confidence in your knowledge and your preparation and remember that the prep courses are designed for a wide range of personalities - don’t freak out if you didn’t follow the schedule exactly.  Also, essays, essays, essays - do as many as you possibly can and get feedback from wherever you can!  Having confidence in your essays will make the whole process so much better.  Also, don’t let other people throw you off.  There’s always someone bragging or panicking - stay focused on you.

6.  Anything else you would want to tell a current student?

Be open to taking a more difficult, but more fulfilling route with your career.  Get creative - how can practicing law make you happy?  Don’t be afraid to be non-traditional.  Just because people have been practicing law one way forever doesn’t necessarily mean you have to.  Also, don’t feel like you have to practice law the same as your bosses or mentors.  Everyone has their own style - find yours and run with it.  I was taught, you catch more flies with honey, and speak softly and carry a big stick!  Find your legal voice and ignore the others!