Daniel Vaswani / Louis Goodman – Transcript


Louis Goodman / Daniel Vaswani – Transcript


Louis Goodman 00:03
Welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. I’m Louis Goodman. Today, we welcome Daniel Vaswani to the podcast. Daniel is the founder and principal attorney of Virtuoso Law, a full-service criminal defense firm located in downtown Hayward, and has offices throughout the Bay area.

Daniel has a broad range of experience, and his legal work includes corporate work, public interest work, legal aid, eviction defense, and consumer law. These days, his primary focus is on mitigating the risks and consequences of a criminal conviction. Daniel Vaswani, welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast.

Daniel Vaswani 00:54
Louis, thank you for having me, of course. I’m excited to be here. I appreciate the opportunity, of course, to contribute. And hopefully I can give you all a perspective on what I have accomplished so far in this short 14-year career.

Louis Goodman 01:10
Thanks so much for being here. I know that you are just recently back from a paternity leave. How’s that gone for you?

Daniel Vaswani 01:17
So it’s been quite tough. I enjoyed being home to some extent. Cause you know, I obviously own my firm and I have, you know, a few associates and that requires some degree of management in light of the fact that I was on paternity leave, but it was great. And our, our newborn is doing wonderful. He’s a very large little boy and he’s growing quite rapidly, but I sort of give hats off to my wife because she’s carrying the brunt of the load and she’s still on maternity leave. So she’s managing both our toddler and our newborn.

Louis Goodman 01:50
Where are you speaking to us from right now?

Daniel Vaswani 01:52
So I’m actually physically in my Hayward office.

Louis Goodman 01:55
Where exactly is your office located?

Daniel Vaswani 01:58
So it’s located, our office is located in downtown Hayward. So this is our main office. This is where we generally call our home base and it’s right next to a famous bar called Funky Monkey. And so if anybody’s familiar with downtown Hayward, you probably have heard of Funky Monkey. We are almost right next door. There’s just one shop sort of separating us. But as you mentioned earlier, this is one of our many offices, but this is home base.

Louis Goodman 02:24
So you’re right next door to the Funky Monkey. You’re just down the street from the cannabis sales place. And you’re right across the street from the adult bookstore and the Hayward chamber of commerce. So you just couldn’t be more centrally located in Hayward?

Daniel Vaswani 02:44
No we couldn’t, that was sort of the point. So we started in a tiny little room inside of a commercial building, an industrial building, excuse me, in Hayward next to the Costco at Industrial and Hispanian. We were there for many years, and when the pandemic hit, we thought it was appropriate at that point to go out on our own, and also we were growing, and that we needed more space.

So this was perfect, although I spent a ton of money to build it out, unfortunately, but it was, it was completely worth the investment, of course, because of the location. You know, we, we’re centrally located, as you mentioned, right? Cookies is around the corner. We have a few other dispensaries that are very close by.

We also have a number of bars that were around us and, you know, we use that to our full advantage. We have massive window stickers outside of our very large windows and. You know, it’s been, it’s been a great location for us and, you know, we enjoy being in Hayward. This is the heart of the Bay area as they refer to it. And it’s been, it’s been great.

Louis Goodman 03:37
Can you tell us what type of practice you have? How do you describe your practice?

Daniel Vaswani 03:43
So I call this heavy criminal. And the reason why is that it’s easy and criminal to kind of dissect what you do, meaning you could be a DUI lawyer, or you could be a criminal lawyer. And if you’re a criminal lawyer, you could do only, you know, hard criminal stuff and not do white collar defense. We do all of it and we do, you know, all the crimes that include federal offenses throughout the country. So in fact, I’ve, you know, barred in the Eastern district of Michigan because I had a marijuana money laundering case that was coming from here to Detroit. We use that to our advantage, right? The federal practice is different than state, but we’re a full-service criminal defense firm. That means everything start to finish, arraignment to trial and appeal.

Louis Goodman 04:24
Where are you from originally?

Daniel Vaswani 04:25
I am actually born and raised here. I grew up in Union City. I went to undergrad in LA eventually in law school, eventually in LA and came back up. And, you know, I’ve been here since, so this is still home.

My parents are still local. I now live in Contra Costa County. It’s been a wonderful place to grow up in various ways. The diversity, the people, the quality of people here, my friends, it’s been just a rewarding place to live.

Louis Goodman 04:55
What high school did you go to?

Daniel Vaswani 04:57
I went to James Logan high school. It is a 4,000-student school, which is quite large as to my understanding.

It was very diverse and just a, a great place. I enjoyed my high school experience. I have friends that continue from high school because I enjoyed it so much.

Louis Goodman 05:14
And then you went where to college?

Daniel Vaswani 05:16
I went to UCLA. So I had a great time. I’m a Bruin, you know, I will. bust out in an A clap if we weren’t recording, but yeah, I had a great time at UCLA as well.

UCLA taught me so much, you know, the sort of the open, bright eyes of an idealistic, you know, like student at that point, can’t let go of the fact that I enjoyed it in the way that I really did. It was a wonderful experience.

Louis Goodman 05:40
Now you ultimately went to law school. Did you take some time off between college and law school or did you go straight through?

Daniel Vaswani 05:46
I took one year off and I actually worked at Cooley, which is a large firm. I was sort of a case assistant at that point, you know, green and getting a little bit of experience prior to actually heading off to law school, which ended up in LA as well, as I mentioned. And I went to Loyola Law School. I had a wonderful experience at Loyola. Loyola brought me into criminal. So I graduated in 2010. So sometime back and in 2010, the market job market at that point was weak and I was fortunate to have an offer. So I went to work for eminutes.com, which is a, it was actually a corporate formation law firm, even though it doesn’t sound that way. And I was forming corporations for celebrities.

I was. You know, sort of heavily entrenched in corporate. And I took that offer because obviously it was a rough time in the economy, but in my third year of law school, I did a delinquency clinic through the center for juvenile law and policy called the juvenile justice clinic. And there, it kind of sparked my interest for criminal, you know, obviously delinquency is tangentially related, but yeah, I had, you know, a ton of training from the folks over at the juvenile justice clinic, the center for juvenile law and policy.

And I was very, very fortunate to have that sort of practical experience that taught me, you know, sort of what it would mean to be a criminal practitioner. I came out of law school and I had a corporate offer and I came and I started a private criminal defense firm, no public defender experience, no DA experience, just straight into criminal.

Had it not been for those opportunities, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Louis Goodman 07:22
Do you think that taking a little time off between college and law school gave you some focus, better focus when you got to law school?

Daniel Vaswani 07:31
It focused me more. It gave me the opportunity to sort of step back from that heavy academic pursuit, right? Because when you’re in undergrad, you’re pushing for those 4.0s, right? I had the college honors, departmental honors, all that stuff. I wrote a thesis and did a series of things. So I was pushing very hard for a long time. So that one year gave a short break.

Louis Goodman 07:52
This is kind of a two-part question, but when did you first realize that you wanted to be a lawyer? And when did you decide I’m really actually going to apply to law school?

Daniel Vaswani 08:05
In the middle of undergrad, it took me some time, you know, at some point I wanted to be a physician at some point and I wanted to do other things, but I think I had a cousin who’s actually quite close to me, my fourth cousin, actually, so really sort of disconnected relationship, but he was an associate at Pillsbury at that point when I was, I think it was in still in college at that point.

He lined up an internship for me over the summer. And so I was commuting from my parents’ home at that point in Union City out to the San Francisco and working in one of the high rises. And I realized at that point that it was interesting to me and he was in the bankruptcy group there. So it was easy then to transition my education to potentially being, you know, corporate focused. It didn’t appeal as much as after I got the criminal experience. Right. So. Yeah, it started early enough. You know, I didn’t change majors or anything along those lines in an effort to pursue law subsequently. Not that you need a major specifically for that purpose, but yeah, it happened in college.

Louis Goodman 09:07
Well, one thing that I really wanted to talk to you about is the business of practicing law. Of all the people who I know who have criminal practices you are one of the people who I think Has really been successful as a businessperson, as an attorney. And I’m wondering if you could talk about that a little.

Daniel Vaswani 09:26
This practice is really predicated upon understanding the human component of society and the better you understand you have the human component, the better job you can do as an advocate in court and outside of court, but also as a businessperson as well. So I see our clients, the people around us, all the members of our community, we’re all one in the same to some extent, and you have to understand that in order to effectively understand what they want to see, feel, and hear in order to trust you to give them opportunities to assist them with the problem in their life.

I fear that many practitioners don’t take it as seriously as I do though. It’s a business, but at the same time, we’re given such an opportunity in terms of our profession to contribute positively to people. My goal day to day with every interaction you in, and Louis, this is true for when you and I see each other in court, right?

I want to make everyone’s day just a smidge better when you interact with me. And if I can contribute in that fashion, it’s a pretty big impact generally.

Louis Goodman 10:27
What sort of tools, SEO, advertising type things do you use in order to get your message out there to the public so that you can be available to people who need your services?

Daniel Vaswani 10:44
It’s a good question. And it’s a sophisticated answer that I’m going to give you. So I’m of the belief that someone will hire you if they have two points of contact, what that means is that they’ll see you one fashion and see you in a second fashion that will get you hired. We obviously spend money on pay per click advertising, which generates, you know, decent revenue, but there are various other things that we do.

You know, I myself am graduating as the president of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. My term is coming to an end in 30 days. It was considerable sort of time commitment to do that. But what I realized is that I’m at the forefront of the community. At that point, I have the opportunity to interact directly with people and I’m regularly communicating with those potential clients as a result of that.

So we understand, I guess, what the big pay per click advertising companies want to see, and we understand what ends up being a successful ad as a result of that too.

Louis Goodman 11:38
Do you use any of the kind of classic practice management tools in running your office?

Daniel Vaswani 11:42
Yeah, we absolutely do. We shopped around and actually we now use MyCase, if you’ve heard of it.

Louis Goodman 11:48
I interviewed the developer of MyCase on the podcast.

Daniel Vaswani 11:53
That’s right. I recall seeing that as well. So MyCase has been very helpful. We don’t utilize it to its full capacity. We’re getting there. And in fact, we’re bringing in support to assist us in prepping us to get there because in streamlining our communications would be very helpful for our company.

And so we’re, we’re working towards that, you know, by using MyCase, but we also have a pretty sophisticated Google suite as well, which ties in our calendaring and it backs up two levels of calendaring on my case and on Google. And so. You know, we’ve, we’ve made those things sort of work together. And the harmony between the two is actually pretty great.

And now AI is the next thing, right? And my case is integrating some of that stuff. Google’s integrating AI as well. And it’s making our lives just better organized so that we can more efficiently process information.

Louis Goodman 12:37
What do you think’s the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice would you give to a young attorney just starting out?

Daniel Vaswani 12:47
Remain resilient, right? Because inevitably challenges are going to arise and you know, that remains true I think for all ages. I think that’s one thing that I hope to teach my kids is that things are going to be difficult at some point in your life. And when they’re difficult, you need to remain resilient. And that difficulty is what’s going to help you grow.

It’s going to help you be more successful. It’s going to help you be better organized. It’s going to help you be a better member of your community, your family, your relationship. And generally, right. When you’re resilient it’s hard to lose, right? So that’s one thing. The second thing is, is be thoughtful and sensitive to the emotions of others.

And the reason why is that we as human beings, especially very verbally capable human beings who are consistently in court, constantly arguing. We are very, very good at using words to evoke emotion, to make people feel and think and move forward. Those two things, they really contributed to my growth as an attorney, but more so as a human.

Louis Goodman 13:46
Going to shift gears here a little bit. What’s your family life been like and how has practicing law fit into that? And your family life fit in?

Daniel Vaswani 13:54
I have the most wonderful wife as well. And she is a very patient, wonderful, hardworking, educated, diligent woman. My wife is just the most wonderful person that I’ve met in my entire life. Hence why I married her. In light of the amount of effort that I have to put in order to make sure that my firm, my company, you know, succeeds, she doesn’t complain. And she asked that I contribute and I remain, I’ll wake up at four o’clock in the morning every day. I’ll clean the house a little bit before I head off to the gym.

I’ll get to the gym and I’ll return and I’ll clean a little bit more and get ready and rush to court. And she knows that I’m doing endlessly everything that I can to contribute to our family dynamic in a positive way. I’m not one of those people that, you know, I have to live that extremely lavish life. But I want to make sure that my kids have the opportunities that my immigrant parents, you know, gave me, but more, right. Because I think that that leveling up is important for us. I would like them to have a little bit less difficulty compared to what I experienced. And so I think that’s what I’m providing. And I think my wife sees that’s what I’m working towards, which is part of the reason why she’s so good to me. You know, I, my family life as a result of that is good because I, you know, my kids, right, they’re going to have every opportunity that I had and more, and it’s exciting to see because they’re just smarter than I ever could be, right?

There’s so much more potential there just in this next generation, even compared to who I was. I mean, this world is Is developing so rapidly. And if we could only, you know, transfer some of that to the next generation, I am very fortunate to say that I think I’m going to have that opportunity. You know, my kids are very wrong, young, right?

I have a newborn and a, you know, I have a, almost a two-year-old and, and I don’t know yet, but my hope is, is that all this hard work and diligence and all this focus and all this time that we spend with them will give them those opportunities. I think it will. I have faith and I’m resilient. We just push forward.

Louis Goodman 15:46
Let’s say you came into some real money, 3 or 4 billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?

Daniel Vaswani 15:54
I don’t think money changes much in the sense of where I currently exist. I’m not the person that would do less. I would like to do more for the people around me, right? The incredibly effective attorney that shares an office with me next door, right?

Or the attorney that’s two doors down. Right. I would like to give them more. I’ve been very fortunate, as I said, for all the people that have come together in my life, right? The degree of loyalty, my office manager, Chris Baraka is, has known me since we went to high school together. He’s been with me since the day that I started the firm.

You know, it’s just like, I have such really wonderful people around me. If I can. If I could buy a mental happiness with that money, I would.

Louis Goodman 16:29
Let’s say you had a magic wand. There was one thing you could change in the legal world or the world in general. What would that be?

Daniel Vaswani 16:37
I would immediately provide our locality with the resources that they need to actually deal with the issues.

So I would make sure that, you know, we built a system that could provide resources immediately, just instantaneous. No delay. We see the problem. We know what it is. Let’s fix it instead of incarcerating.

Louis Goodman 16:56
Let’s say you had 60 seconds on the Super Bowl. Someone gave you a Super Bowl ad. You had an enormous audience. What message would you want to put out there?

Daniel Vaswani 17:06
If everybody entered a room the same way that I do, right. To make everybody’s day a little bit more positive day by day, I think genuinely the world would be a better place. So if I could somehow convey to everyone that if we just treated all the people around us with just a small amount of like just positivity that everybody else would continue spreading that. I think we’d have far fewer problems.

Louis Goodman 17:27
Daniel, I have some more questions that I want to ask you, but before we get to that, there’s a couple of other people who have joined us on this call and I would like to give them an opportunity to make a comment or ask you a question.

Ocean, are you there? And can you unmute and join us?

Ocean 17:50
Yes, sir. And a pleasure to be here. I always love your show. Thank you so much for the podcast. Daniel, it’s been great hearing from you. I think the biggest thing that sticks out to me is just your attitude. You know, they’re, they’re really personal focusing on connecting with people, sort of remaining curious, you know, trying to just make the best out of every interaction.

How did you get to that point in your life? Like, how did you become this person?

Daniel Vaswani 18:13
That’s a great question. I realized, right, that what I want to hear from people generally is hope and positivity. And, and for me, the only way that I could then. Get that from people is to give it to them as well.

Right. So it’s tied to some degree of selfishness. Right. So, so Ocean, if you and I ran into each other on the street, I’d like to make sure that like when you, when you spoke to me, you felt that positivity and it’s likely that you would reciprocate, you know, it’s likely that you would contribute that same degree of positivity to me.

So that degree of self interest in myself, right. Just made me understand that I enjoy this just genuine interaction with people. I enjoy not focusing on the negative. I enjoy pursuing the positive. It makes me feel good. And that is, that’s a selfish thing, right? But it really does. And I realized that it also makes other people feel good as well.

And that means that when they move on to their next interaction or whatever it is, they’re probably making everybody else feel good. So it’s just nice to be a part of something positive. So it’s, it’s nice to feel like you’re contributing, I guess. And so. You know, I’ve been volunteering my time for a long time and, and I’ve had very limited time as of late with new kids and so on, but, you know, I still want to make sure that my like experience with everybody and what they contribute to me is just that, that equilibrium of positivity.

And so I just learned that it works and it helps. It makes things smoother.

Ocean 19:37
Thank you for your answer. And thank you for being you. We need more attorneys like you in the profession.

Cyn 19:42
I have a question for you. If you had to speak to a judge your age and you had to address an order that you were to live with one of your three strike criminals that just got out of jail and they were going to be put right into your house to live with, you know, maybe with your family or your pets, what would you say to this judge and, you know, in 30 seconds or less, or would you get a good criminal counsel to address the matter of why you wouldn’t want to live with one of your own clients, let’s say down the hall in the bedroom next to you. So, Cyn, great question, right? Okay. So this ties to what Ocean and I were just discussing a few moments ago as well. I wouldn’t necessarily contest the order. I definitely have seen, so, so we represent the whole gambit.

We have the, the, the homicides we have, the complex, you know, sex cases and so on. We have, we have it all. All these people in light of the positions they’re in and light of the way that they grew up, they all genuinely communicate with me in a positive way in light of the difficult situations that they’re in.

And so the reason why is because, as I said, right, I tried to communicate with them with respect and positivity, and that comes back twofold often because I don’t necessarily believe that people are bad, right? I’m a criminal defense attorney. I see this daily. And I genuinely get the good out of almost all of my clients and almost every single interaction.

And so I wouldn’t, I don’t have the reason to contest. Cause I like, I like to believe, right. I like to believe that that human component that I understand so well can make that even situation harmonious. Right. And, and, and it may be, maybe I’m a little idealistic, but, you know, based on my experience, that doesn’t concern me, you know, I’m happy to contribute.

And if I can make their existence that much more positive, I’ll take it. Thank you.

Louis Goodman 21:41
Thanks, Cyn. Daniel, I have a few more questions. Is there anybody living or dead who you would like to meet?

Daniel Vaswani 21:49
I think the general essence that President Obama carried was very sort of resonant. It resonates in me to some extent.

I just love that positive sort of existence. And it was a different time in our country, of course, but I felt he led in a way that, you know, compelled people to be, to do their best, to be their best.

Louis Goodman 22:07
Daniel, if someone wants to get in touch with you, someone needs representation, or another attorney wanted to contact you to get some advice or some insight about how to handle a particular case or particular situation, what’s the best way for people to contact you?

Daniel Vaswani 22:31
So generally the best way is to visit our website, which is www.virtuosolaw.com. That’s V I R T U O S O L A W. com. Or just drop by the Funky Monkey, which is next door, and I’m probably here. So multiple opportunities.

Louis Goodman 22:53
Daniel, is there anything that you wanted to talk about that we have not discussed anything that you’d like to bring up? Anything at all.

Daniel Vaswani 22:59
So no, outside of the fact that I am very grateful to have the privilege to be able to contribute to this conversation, this podcast, Louis, it’s been a pleasure learning from you, seeing you practice, seeing you work, seeing you run your business as well. You know, I’m very grateful and I have to say thank you openly for all that.

Louis Goodman 23:19
Well, thank you, Daniel. And thank you, Daniel Vaswani for joining us today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast and the Alameda County Bar Association podcast. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you on behalf of all of us. Thanks for joining us.

Daniel Vaswani 23:36
Thank you.

Louis Goodman 23:37
That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and follow the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs and information.

Thanks to my guests, and to Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Robert for social media and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.

Daniel Vaswani 24:20
It’s tough, right? I genuinely believe that your brain develops drastically past, you know, that prime law school age.

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