Andrew Dosa / Louis Goodman Podcast Transcript

Louis Goodman

Hello, and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer, we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers, and what their experiences of been, I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show. And yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect. He has over 36 years of experience litigating both criminal and civil cases. He has had extensive experience trying cases in front of judges and juries. He taught at the university level, and he is active in his church. He has served as chair of the Alameda County Advisory Board on alcohol problems. Andrew Dosa, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.



Andrew Dosa

Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for having me.



Louis Goodman

It’s a pleasure to have you. We’ve known each other for a while and one of the things I always admire about you is you’re someone who is unafraid to take a case, right up to jury trial through jury trial and really litigate these things.



Andrew Dosa

Well, I do think that’s the point of representing the client, if you need to go all the way you have to go all the way.



Louis Goodman

Where’s your office located now, Andrew?



Andrew Dosa

My office is in Alameda.



Louis Goodman

How long have you been there?



Andrew Dosa

I’ve been in the office, I’ve been in Alameda since about 1988.



Louis Goodman

And what sort of practice do you have?



Andrew Dosa

The main focus of my practice has been criminal defense. I also do a fair amount of civil litigation. I started out doing a lot of civil litigation in a couple different firms. And that just carried with me into the days when I began my own practice. The third area of practice is in estate planning. So I’ll do drafting of trusts and wills. And when I began to include that, in my practice more, I was with a greater emphasis, I realized there were a lot of probate attorneys that just were deathly afraid of courts. And somewhere along the way, I just ended up getting a trust contest or a will contest here or there. And so the litigation side is carried over into that and just generally say that’s estate planning, but it also would include the litigation side of probate cases.



Louis Goodman

Where are you from originally?



Andrew Dosa

I was born in Maryland and lived there for a short time, dad was in the military. We then traveled over to Europe. So I’ve lived in Germany in two different stretches for a total of seven and a half years. But as far as where I’m from, I consider myself a kid from California. We officially became residents in 1962/63, but settled in Salinas in 1970, and have been here since then.



Louis Goodman

Where’d you go to high school?



Andrew Dosa

I went to high school Palma High, was a Catholic Parochial School in Salinas.



Louis Goodman

How was that? What was that like for you?



Andrew Dosa

I liked it. I my parents and I had a different perspective. They thought I was worried about the drugs at Salinas High and I thought that they wanted me to go there. Because it was a better college prep school. And somewhere in the mix, I don’t even know what the answer is, but I found it to be really a good experience. It was good academically and for the most part, my classmates were really pretty decent. So I look back generally favorably toward High School. It’s not my favorite time, it was just a step along the way, but a good an important step.



Louis Goodman

We’re doing the college after that?



Andrew Dosa

I took two steps. Before I ended up at Berkeley, I went to the junior college, then went to Sacramento State for a semester while I was waiting to hear and then Cal accepted me. So I finished up there and then went to law school at University of San Francisco.



Louis Goodman

What did you think about going to Cal as opposed to going to the community colleges or the state college?







Andrew Dosa

Well, I think that community college was really great part of it was just, you know, figuring that we couldn’t afford for me to go away to school and pay for everything. So the idea of staying local didn’t really seem to be too much of a downer. I just generally found that I tried to make the most of it, enjoyed what I could. And I just took a lot of classes. I worked as a security guard on campus, I took all the Political Science and Philosophy classes that they offered, played on the tennis team and just kind of did a little bit of growing for one year. It was a perfect step. And then I was on my way to a bigger school.



Louis Goodman

When did you start thinking about going to law school and saying, hey, I’d like to be a lawyer?



Andrew Dosa

It was my sophomore year in high school. Well, I was prepping to take the preliminary LSAT class test, the PSAT test. And one of the components of it, at that time, was these are all the careers that are out there. There’s the jobs you can do, what do you think you’d be good at? And my father and I sat down we kind of looked at what I might fit with and basically said, you got this skill and that skill for you. You’re like analytical, you like communicating, you like English, you like to persuade and encourage people. So maybe blahs a good idea. And when I sort of thought about it, it just connected with me. And so coming out of that conversation with my dad, people go, What are you thinking of doing? Like, I would say, I’m going to law school, I’m going to be a lawyer. And I was amazed at how many people were sort of taken aback that I thought that I really knew what I wanted to do. And I really have never considered anything else.



Louis Goodman

So when you graduated from Cal, did you go directly to law school?



Andrew Dosa

I did. I know from hearing a couple other podcasts that you took a break and a variety of others, I thought it would be a good idea. I wish I had done that to going back to see Germany where we live and taken off six months or a year, but at the time, just with my youthful energy, I just felt it was so important for me to take on my responsibilities. As you know, as I grew up into an adult and took my place in the world, and I just felt I didn’t have the time to take a break. I think in retrospect, it would have been a great idea. But I actually don’t really regret it. It was a frantic run for 19 years of school in a row when I finally got done with it. You know, that’s what I thought at the time.



Louis Goodman

Well, let me be clear, I don’t really have an editorial position on it. I’m just always curious about, you know, what path people took to get where they are. So what law school did you go to?



Andrew Dosa

The University of San Francisco.



Louis Goodman

And how did you enjoy that experience? You’d gone to a Catholic High School and now you’re at a Catholic Law School?



Andrew Dosa

Yeah, yeah. I you know, the only indicator that there was a true Catholic influence, other than just the, you know, St. Ignatius Church across the way. I love to learn, I wish you know, on one level, I think if I’d ever not been an attorney I’d have been a professor. So I found I enjoyed law school, even though it was pretty challenging.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, that was my experience with law school, too. I really enjoyed law school. I found it academically quite difficult for the first time of anything since my junior year of high school. But I really enjoyed it. And I think that you were at a place where it took me a little while to get there, which was to really have a focus on what I wanted to do and why I was there. I mean, by the time I got to law school, I was really clear about why I wanted to be there. But it sounds like you really had that figured out when you got there.



Andrew Dosa

Yeah, and I think I going back and looking at how I am, I think that my father did me a huge favor.



Louis Goodman

What was your path to the work that you’re now doing after graduating from law school? Did you go to work for somebody else first or did you immediately open your practice?



Andrew Dosa

I worked for a couple firms. I started out waiting for the bar results. And so just doing a clerk position in a local law firm downtown Oakland. Worked for a couple of firms. And then I kind of looked around, I thought, you know, it makes more sense for me to be on my own. And I kind of slid into that. And I think probably like a few people you’ve interviewed but not most probably, I kind of went into it without really a clue about what I really needed to do to make myself effective in running the practice. And I think maybe now I’m just beginning to learn how to do it. I hired a business consultant, who focuses on attorneys in their practices, only last year, and that’s what really saved me through COVID. But now 36 years later I’m finally thinking I am enjoying learning a practice and making it much more effective for me.



Louis Goodman

Well, since you brought it up, let’s talk a little bit about the business of practicing law. You know, so many of us go to law school, when we become professionals, and we get a certain proficiency in law and litigation and transactional work, whatever it might be. But the running of a business is something that is not taught in law school. I think it should be but it’s not. And I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your process and your experience in the business side of practice.



Andrew Dosa

Sure. Well, I think what drove me at the beginning and it what drove me even to today, but primarily last year was, oh my gosh, I’ve got to pay some bills. And suddenly I started focusing on what I had to do to get a little bit of money to pay the bills that were coming up next week. And so becoming a little more conscious of the work I do not just for the client, but the business aspect of it made me be a lot more conscientious. And you know, I went to law school filled with that idealistic sense of I’m doing something because of the great concepts and the principles of that. And you know, I’m serving and this is the way I’m serving the universe and serving God and serving, you know, clients, typically 25 years or 30 before I really said, I’d have to stop being haphazard about how I operate my business. But you’re right, no one teaches you how to do this. No one gives you the practicalities of running a business. I don’t know, doesn’t running a business seem pedestrian if you’ve got the great concepts like the constitution that you’re upholding? And how do you see the thing that I think that was fun for me was I realized, I could shift my perspective and think and running my practice was a wonderful, extraordinary thing, just like practicing law is a wonderful, extraordinary thing. There’s no real difference between the two of you do them honorably than they’re good things. So I try to think of the honorable side as well as just, I don’t want to be waiting around for money to show up when I need to pay my rent, right? That’s just no fun. Not fun.



Louis Goodman

What do you really like about practicing law?



Andrew Dosa

I really enjoy serving clients. And so if I do estate planning, and I think about it that way, I’m helping clients understand how they can manage their money when they’re not here anymore. in a criminal case, you’re not always giving them advice about how they should conduct themselves, you’re trying to extricate themselves from the dangers of their prior conduct before they came to you for help. So then from the criminal side, I really see it as a service industry. In a sense, it’s a service business. Clients come to me, they want to be, they want me to tell them, we got this, we’re a team, I’m listening to you, you are the one who was there at the time the incident happened, I wasn’t you telling me what happened. And now let’s figure out how we can make your defense come alive and be effective.



Louis Goodman

I think that an awful lot of criminal practice, maybe all practices involve a certain level of psychology and social work. And that’s another thing that they don’t really talk about that much in law school, but the human side of dealing with someone who’s in a very bad place in their life is really a skill that attorneys have to develop.







Andrew Dosa

Yeah, I agree. And clients are receptive to us, aren’t they? Because they need us really, really clearly to their own mind. It’s interesting when I have clients that will listen to me more than they’ll listen to their parents, because they know that I’m the attorneys who knows what to do with the system and their parents have some good ideas, but can’t really serve them the same way.



Louis Goodman

Would you recommend going into law to a young person who’s thinking about a career?



Andrew Dosa

Absolutely, it depends on what they’re like. I would probably want to know a little bit more about them. I think of some friends I have in the neighborhood who are really accomplished in their worlds, but they just couldn’t handle the stress of conflict. So I wonder if they’re able to handle conflict? Or do they like to solve problems? So that might be someone who does transactions work, you know, a state planner is a valuable person, but they’re just not trial lawyers, no harm to them, but it’s just that they’re not situated for that. So it’s really about what they like, what their gifts are. And I think there is, I believe this, I think that there is maybe no other occupation that in my mind is as honorable as that of practicing law. I mean, it is extraordinary. The opportunity we have, and the honor that’s involved in how we conduct ourselves and making sure our clients are served well. It’s just a wonderful occupation. So for the right person, I would not hesitate encouraging them.



Louis Goodman

How is actually practicing met or differed from your expectations of it?



Andrew Dosa

I think maybe I expected it wouldn’t be quite as crazy. Or I thought maybe I could avoid it. And I could just do the practice more that serving clients and doing the lawyer side. But running the business, I think was a little, it was a little bit harder than I thought.



Louis Goodman

Is there anything that you know now that you really wish you’d known when you started practicing?



Andrew Dosa

I think if there had been a practical reality check law class in law school, about what it’s like to function either as an associate in a firm or running your own practice, I think that would have been really helpful. And I think it would have been great if you’d had somebody say, take this thing seriously, if you get out to be a solo and you’re struggling every month, it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. But you don’t want to be the reason why you’re struggling because you’re not paying attention to how to run a business. That would have been really great advice for me. I think, if I’d taken it seriously, too, that would have been really helpful.



Louis Goodman

What do you think is the best advice that you’ve actually received?



Andrew Dosa

Don’t do the job 90%, finish everything. You’re supposed to go and expect anyone else to finish, which is different from you know, you can’t you know, to do 80% of a brief is probably enough, because who’s got the extra 10 hours to check all the footnotes? If you do the job well enough that you don’t have any regrets and you don’t have anyone else, then there are no holes in your work. And so I guess that’s the idea. You do the job so that you don’t regret that you failed to follow through and pay attention to what was wrong.



Louis Goodman

Do you think the legal system is fair?



Andrew Dosa

I don’t think it is fair at all. I think that in the civil realm, it’s a little bit better then in the criminal realm. I think that the power that the prosecution has is so overwhelming. I just don’t think that defendants, even with good lawyers are anywhere near in an equal footing as prosecutors. I think when a jury sits there, and a prosecutor says, I’m the attorney for the people of the State of California, even if they don’t say it, because that’s what the caption says. That’s what the judge will say. I think that the prosecution has a huge advantage starting right there. And then they also have police officers who write reports, with the intent to write them in such a way that it helps get a conviction. That’s not we just want to find out what the facts are. Man, please tell us that it’s the system has already begun to tilt once someone gets into the clutches of a police officer. And then the final step, which is maybe the crown of our system as the jury system and having a jury. And the frightening thing for me is that I think jurors are inclined to go along with what they’re supposed to do, which is convict. I think the message they get is that, so jurors, yet to get 12 jurors, and to get them all to think independently of each other is nearly impossible. In my mind.



Louis Goodman

You serve, as I mentioned in the intro on the Alameda County Advisory Board on Alcohol Problems.



Andrew Dosa

I had a few years ago, not now.



Louis Goodman

Well, I guess I mean, it just kind of leads up to this question. It has been my experience, and I’m wondering if it’s yours, that a great deal of what drives the problems in the criminal justice system is alcohol?





Andrew Dosa

I think that’s absolutely correct. There’s almost always drugs or alcohol involved. There is a mental health component. And there’s an overlap between all three it’s like a Venn diagram of a, b, and c and the shared area between a, b and c is pretty huge. So those are the problems. But you’re right, there’s a huge outer something outside of a person alcohol that influences how they function, that tilts them sideways. People do not make good decisions when they’re sober, and people make worse decisions when they’re not sober.



Louis Goodman

Now, I know that you’ve been active in your church too, has how does that fit in with your practice?



Andrew Dosa

I’m driven by a sense that God has a purpose for my life. And I think that that is me practicing law and serving people. I tend to be really thoughtful about what I think my responsibilities are. But the idea for me when I think about, you know, developing skills or going to classes and seminars so that I’m more effective as an attorney, the idea is that I want to be as effective as I can be in and hone my skills so that I will be as effective as possible, serving my clients. So I look at it that way. If the inter woven in that question is what do friends at church, who would presumably be more conservative thinking be doing criminal defense? I have gotten plenty of raised eyebrows over the years. And that’s just an occupational hazard.



Louis Goodman

Well, certainly an awful lot of very religious people and very church active people, including some very famous nuns, have been extremely involved in the criminal justice process.



Andrew Dosa

It is interesting that we would presume that conservative people would always be on the side of police. But it I’ll just say that when you and I chatted about three or four weeks ago about being on this podcast, I made a comment. And so maybe it’s a little controversial, but I’ll mention it again, I said, I generally think that conservative justices on the Supreme Court are better on criminal justice issues, because they seem to say, what is the constitutional principle here? And how do we support the constitutional protections that are in place? And you and I had a little bit of riff going back and forth on that.



Louis Goodman

Have you had any interest in travel experience?



Andrew Dosa

So I would say almost all of our vacations when I was a kid were really, really wonderful experiences. And since then, I think I’ve probably had more fun traveling down to a couple different spots in Mexico. A couple were like mission groups, a mission trip my son’s youth group and we built a small church out in the countryside and we helped build an amphitheater at a huge orphanage in Tijuana. Those I think those are the experiences in Mexico were more for me personally to do some serving and carrying bricks and mixing cement rather than talking like I do as a you know, as a normal person doing work. But those were great experiences. And I mentioned earlier I wish I had traveled after I’d gone through with college but I may get a trip or two in the future.



Louis Goodman

About recreational pursuits, anything you do to clear your head after being in court all day?



Andrew Dosa

Yeah, I have. I do a lot of things actually. I homebrew beer. I like to cook, I like to read and I like to teach. I helped the CS Lewis Society of California and we have a book club. And so I’m pretty active with that. I also play golf when I have a chance to. Then the fun thing on Sunday nights is I have a cribbage grudge match with three of the guys in the neighborhood, and we just go to town for a couple hours and playing cribbage and cards and yakking and teasing each other. So I try and get away, you know, on a daily basis, because you just need a breather.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say you came into some real money, $3 or $4 billion. What, if anything, would you do different in your life?



Andrew Dosa

Well, I wonder if that would mess me up a bit. It’s not that I would suddenly go out and buy 10 cars or vacation home that I’d never visit or anything silly like that. I just wonder if having so much money that I would never have to worry about whether I was running my business? Well, would make me a little bit sloppy. You know, if you had a billion dollars, well, I just would say this, if I had a billion dollars, I try and give away as much of it as possible. Because I don’t need a billion dollars. I don’t need a whole lot more than I have. I try to be content with what I have. But it’d be nice to have enough that I’d never worry about the bills. I think what I do is that hire a couple people that put a structure in my practice that I can’t quite do by myself. And then I think I would just focus on the cases that I really want to take in. That’s maybe the difference. It gives me the freedom to say yes to cases that I might not take, I’d probably do a couple more pro bono cases to actually that’s maybe, that’s how it would be the best blessing for me personally, then I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I had run out of time to get bills out on other cases while I was in trial.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say I had a magic wand. There was one thing in the world that you could change. What would that be?



Andrew Dosa

I wish that I had the ability to inspire people to jump out of their chairs and run out the door thinking that they wanted to seize every opportunity that life gave them. But I say that, because I appreciate that every time I’ve looked at the best challenges that were in front of me, the ones that really stretch me the most, were the ones that made my time facing them so valuable. And so rewarding it when things were too easy. It wasn’t as fun. When I took on challenges, it was really worthwhile. And I’d want to be able to figure out how to say that to any person I was talking with that they would want to basically say I’ll take on every challenge, I’m going to take all my responsibilities and commit myself to do them. That’s what I’d love to do. I mean helping people with hunger and stuff, those sorts of things are obvious. But I just there’s a part of me that just likes the idea of inspiring people. I’d love to figure out how I could get people really motivated to take on their lives and go for it.



Louis Goodman

Andrew Dosa, thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure talking to you here. It’s a pleasure running into you in the parking lot of the courthouse. And I’ve always enjoyed talking to you.



Andrew Dosa

Hey, thanks so much. I appreciate you giving me the invitation and enjoyed our time.



Louis Goodman

That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information. Thanks as always to my guests and share their wisdom. And to Joel Katz for music, Ryan Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman



Andrew Dosa

It just, I was learning so much, I was learning what I wanted to learn. I was learning what I felt was really important for me. And so I think in part because I knew there was a good purpose to it. I just generally figured I wasn’t gonna complain much.



Comments Off on Andrew Dosa / Louis Goodman Podcast Transcript