Kevin Taguchi / Louis Goodman – Podcast

[00:00:00] Louis Goodman: Hello, and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer. Where 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 experience has been. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect.

He is a former Alameda County Deputy District Attorney, and although a good friend, he and I battled through a toughly litigated arson case against each other in front of the late honorable Jack Burke.

After leaving the District Attorney’s Office, he developed a thriving, civil practice using his courtroom skills to provide representation to those who have been victimized by negligence. He has litigated every type of personal injury matter, including soft tissue, catastrophic loss, brain injuries, and the loss of [00:01:00] limbs.

He is an aggressive litigator and an outstanding attorney. Kevin Taguchi welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.

Keven Taguchi: Wow, Louis quite the introduction. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Louis Goodman: Kevin, thank you. And you know, Kevin, I really have always considered you a good friend and I have considered you a good, tough litigator.

So where is your located right now?

Keven Taguchi: I am located in the heart of Alameda County, which is Hayward, California.

Louis Goodman: And how long have you been in that location?

Keven Taguchi: Whoa since 1992.

Louis Goodman: What sort of practice? Almost what?

Keven Taguchi: Almost 30 years, you know my goodness. Wow. It goes by fast.

Louis Goodman: What sort of practice do you have right now?

Keven Taguchi: I exclusively do personal injury.

Louis Goodman: And at one time you did some criminal defense, is that correct?

Keven Taguchi: I did for a while after I left the District Attorney’s [00:02:00] Office. I played right into criminal defense practice since that’s what I knew.

Louis Goodman: Where are you from originally?

Keven Taguchi: I grew up in Los Angeles, the Valley to be specific. So the San Bernardino Valley.

Louis Goodman: Where’d you go to high school?

Keven Taguchi: Van Nyes High with the lovely Paula Abdul.

Louis Goodman: Really? Did you know her in high school?

Keven Taguchi: Oh yeah, very well. And junior high.

Louis Goodman: And so what was your experience in high school like?

Keven Taguchi: It was very social.

I got myself involved in sports, student government, I was very active.

Louis Goodman: In high school, what sort of sports did you play?

Keven Taguchi: I got into volleyball and I played tennis, but, and then started playing volleyball and just gravitated to volleyball. Very experienced at it.

Louis Goodman: So it was Paula Abdul there, cheerleading on the side?

Keven Taguchi: We didn’t have cheerleaders for the volleyball, but she was one of the cheerleaders at school.

[00:03:00] Louis Goodman: When he got out of high school. Where did you end up going to college?

Keven Taguchi: I immediately went to UCLA. Which was my first choice and probably my only choice.

Louis Goodman: What was that experience like?

Keven Taguchi: It was great. You know, I used to go there when I was in junior high and high school just to hang out on campus and I ended up playing sports there as well.

So that really was highlight. I lived in the dorms. I also did student government there. It was really fun experience.

Louis Goodman: What sort of sports did you play at UCLA?

Keven Taguchi: I started rowing crew. I was a little bit intimidated by UCLA volleyball since it was the best team in the country. And so when I was a junior I decided to go out. I said, you know, why not? And so I tried out for the team and made it

Louis Goodman: That’s really impressive. I mean, that’s division one school. Isn’t it?

Keven Taguchi: We won the championship two years in a row during that time. Yeah, [00:04:00] the top player in the country, on the team and three, I think three players, teammates, went to play the Olympics and won gold medals in 84.

Louis Goodman: Wow, so what did you take up academically at UCLA?

Keven Taguchi: I started as an economics major and it was okay. It was a bit dry. And then I kind of meandered over to anthropology and really loved anthropology. Social physical and so I started to take a lot of classes and anthropology as well as econ.

Louis Goodman: And ultimately your major was what?

Keven Taguchi: Economics with a minor.

Louis Goodman: And when did you start thinking about becoming a lawyer?

Keven Taguchi: The question Louis. Really not to, I don’t know, I was wanting to be a lawyer. It was more, I wasn’t really ready to go out and see the working world. And I wanted more education. I just didn’t feel like I had enough. And [00:05:00] a lot of my friends, parents were lawyers.

I came from a medical family. So I really didn’t know anything about it except through my friend’s parents. And I decided to go to law school because I thought it was kind of the direction I wanted to head into, but I didn’t really know. And I wasn’t really ready to go out to the working world.

So I decided to go to law school.

Louis Goodman: So you went to law school directly out of UCLA.

Keven Taguchi: I did it with only a two-month break from graduation to the start of law school.

Louis Goodman: Where did you go?

Keven Taguchi: I went to Pepperdine. Pepperdine was a relatively small law school at the time. It’s much, much bigger and much more notoriety.

Louis Goodman: That might be one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States.

Keven Taguchi: I think it is probably one of the most beautiful campuses. A lot of people that I went to school with, chose it for that reason. They liked the pictures [00:06:00] of the cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.

Louis Goodman: Well, what was the experience of going to law school like for you?

Keven Taguchi: Pepperdine was, it was really different. It was really conservative for me. It was very diverse, which I appreciated diverse and people from around the different country, different economic backgrounds, there were some very, very wealthy kids that went to that school as well as,

So it was pretty diverse in that way.

Louis Goodman: But what did your friends and family think about you wanting to become a lawyer?

Keven Taguchi: Like I was a black sheep, you know, my sister was in medical school. Dad was a doctor and my mom was a nurse. My uncle was a doctor. I mean, it was just, everything was medical-related.

So I was the first one in my family to go into law. So they didn’t really, I mean, it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t, there was no fanfare or anything and [00:07:00] just in my family, education was really valued. So it’s kind of like more expected that you would do that compared to, you know, it was just expected that you’d go to higher education.

Louis Goodman: After you got out of law school, what was your first legal job?

Keven Taguchi: I started fortunately enough in the Alameda County’s DA’s Office, which was just an amazing experience and really grateful that I had the opportunity to have that as my first job.

Louis Goodman: Yeah. Well, as you know, that was my first job too, and I feel exactly the same way.

I mean, it was a great experience and I’m really grateful for it. What prompted you to go to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office? I mean, how did you get from Pepperdine to Alameda County?

Keven Taguchi: Well, Alameda County, as you’re well aware of the DA’s office, it’s fairly political. And I was, and they also had a hiring program as well.

You had to be a clerk in there in the summer, and I was kind of, I was an outsider. One of my [00:08:00] mentors was very political and was connected to the Democratic Party. And he was able to get my foot in the door and get some interviews and to some of the DA’s Office. And he was really the one that recommended that I start my career as a lawyer.

It was philosophy and which I completely agreed with 100% that it’s really not what law school that you go to that dictates your career, but what your first job is.

Louis Goodman: Interesting. Yeah.

Keven Taguchi: And so as a result, you know, he recommended that as a lawyer, That, how you get things done as a lawyer is, you know, you can negotiate, but if you fail to you can’t reach con you know, reach a resolution.

Things are decided in the courtroom. So you have to be, you have to know what’s going on in the courtroom. You have to be proficient in litigation in order to be an effective lawyer. He said, as a result of going into the DA’s Office, [00:09:00] Get that experience right away. And so that was, that’s the reason why I decided to do that.

Louis Goodman: So what were your initial experiences in the DA’s Office?

Keven Taguchi: You know, being an outsider, you know, was, you know, I was kind of cautious with the people I met, but I quickly gained a lot of friends and they made, as you know, it’s very important to have allies when you practice law. And so I made some really good, really good close friends.

And when you practice in the DA’s Office, it’s like going to war when you’re in a courtroom with your courtroom, lawyer, and the people that you go to battle with. You become really tight with.

Louis Goodman: Yeah. Well, we went to battle with each other in court, as I’ve mentioned, and we’ve become pretty good friends.

Keven Taguchi: Yeah. It’s interesting. You know, when it’s like, you know, we were opponents as compared to being on the same side and fighting on the same side and, you know, as an opponent, when you do battle with, [00:10:00] you gain a respect for the, you know, your opponent and you can bond that way as well.

Louis Goodman: You know, I was just thinking about this, Kevin. I was looking at it. I think you said somewhere, maybe it’s on your website that you joined the Alameda County DA’s Office in March of 1987.

Keven Taguchi: That’s correct.

Louis Goodman: And that was just a couple of months after I left the DA’s office. And for some reason I thought we had overlapped in the DA’s Office, but maybe not.

Keven Taguchi: My memory is that you had just recently left and you were practicing criminal defense.

Louis Goodman: When did we first meet? Do you remember that? I mean, do you have some recollection of like, you know?

Keven Taguchi: Yes, I do. I think when I was in Fremont Division and the Fremont Office of the DA is, and I think that’s where we first met.

Louis Goodman: And I came down there as a defense attorney?

Keven Taguchi: Yes.

Louis Goodman: Hmm. Interesting. So you’ve been a lawyer for a while now. [00:11:00] What do you really like about practicing law? I mean, you’ve been doing it for a long time. Obviously. There must be something about it that you find attractive about practicing law?

Keven Taguchi: Louis I love it. It is very, you know, once you understand the tools that you have, and you understand how to use the tools and you can apply it in your own particular creativity.

Louis Goodman: Can you be a little specific about that? Be specific about it.

Keven Taguchi: Like it’s, you know, it’s an art to make and the psycho paint, brush, you know, an artist paintbrush or sculptors knife, you can use it to, you know, create something within certain rules. And so you really have no creativity involved, you know and there is the, the logical aspect of practicing law and there’s also the art of it.

And so it’s the art that really distinguishes between, [00:12:00] you know, The average lawyer and it was a good lawyer.

Louis Goodman: Would you recommend going to law school to someone who was just coming out of college?

Keven Taguchi: I would never dissuade anybody from going into law. I think law can offer somebody, I mean, you don’t necessarily need to be a lawyer to go to law school. There was a lot of other things that you can do with a JD Degree, teach, or you can go into the sales, you know, I mean, it’s business. You can own a business. I mean, there’s a lot of different, very versatile degree to add. And so I would never, never display anybody from going to law school.

If that’s what they have some interest in. Or even like me, you know, really not sure, you know, we’re no where to go. I fell into litigation because I was fortunate enough to have my first trial when I was a second year law student at federal coordinator here in San Francisco. And after that trial experience I had, I got hooked.

Like [00:13:00] I found it, this is what I wanted to do.

Louis Goodman: When you were growing up, were there any kind of shows, legal TV shows that you watched?

Keven Taguchi: Yeah, there was that LA law. That was pretty fun to watch, but you know, that wasn’t really inspiring and I wasn’t really inspired by the TV, shows you to be a lawyer.

It’s really, you know, my friends and all the parents.

Louis Goodman: Is there anything that, you know now that you really wished you’d known before you started getting into practicing law?

Keven Taguchi: Oh, great question. Really? How to manage the stress. Is being a lawyer is super stressful. I think we really, as a profession, we have a high incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction.

And for me, managing the stress came through exercise, physical fitness. So I was unprepared for, you know, the, the stress involved. [00:14:00] I was getting gray here when I was 26, because of the stress that I was suffering.

Louis Goodman: Well, at least you have some hair.

Keven Taguchi: I hope I did. Okay.

Louis Goodman: Well, you know, since you brought it up, what sort of, you know, physical things, exercise things, recreational things, do you enjoy doing,

Keven Taguchi: You know, I had a serious health crisis, so my choices are a lot more limited, but I found yoga, which is probably for me the best medicine to combat stress. I also have done found velocities and also lift weights. I also try to go on some nice hikes,

Louis Goodman: I only know a little bit about yoga. I don’t personally practice yoga, but I keep hearing from people that it’s a really great thing to be involved in.

Keven Taguchi: It helps you. Really the basic of yoga is connecting your breath to your movement.

It helps [00:15:00] you stay centered and grounded releases a really good release for stress. I got into it because as I mentioned before, I had a very serious health crisis that just about cost me my life. It was a really profound experience. Were literally I had left my body as a result of the trauma. And when I returned to it, you know, my body was completely, I was like almost had to reconnect with it.

And so I was able to, somebody told me about yoga and I started to practice it and it really gave me my body back. And now after practicing it for about seven years, I’m doing things that I’d never even dreamed possible, like be doing at my age. I opened up a yoga studio about four years ago because I was so grateful to yoga.

I wanted to put that energy [00:16:00] back out in the community.

Louis Goodman: Really? Is it still a viable business?

Keven Taguchi: Well through the pandemic we’ve had to close it since the pandemic and we probably are, we’ll have to close the doors because the County just won’t let us open. Probably we’re getting word for at least until springtime.

And we just cannot operate that way. So who knows, you know, we might restart it, you know, and when the pandemic is over, but at the moment, no, there’s no president yoga classes?

Louis Goodman: That’s on my outline that I often ask people is if you ever had a near death experience other than in an automobile.

And you’ve touched on that now, and I’m wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about that and how that kind of has affected your way of thinking about your life going forward?

Keven Taguchi: Well, it’s even more a way of change of thinking. Louis, had [00:17:00] say change of perspective and it’s a change of an awareness.

Louis Goodman: Well, let’s first of all, what happened if you don’t mind talking about it?

Keven Taguchi: Yeah, It is personal. It is a had what they call an Ascending Aortic Dissection. You know, what is that? I had no idea what it was until after I woke up from surgery from having one. Well, there was a famous actor, John Ritter.

He was on a sit-com called Three’s Company and he died unexpectedly from the same condition and the survival rates for the Dissection that I had is in the single digits. It’s very difficult to survive. It is where your Aorta basically shreds begins to rip apart.

Spontaneously the blood flow just does not get to parts of your body. It’s very lethal. Unfortunately, I was in the right place at the right time and [00:18:00] through circumstances based on divine intervention, how was able to survive.

Louis Goodman: And so how has that affected your thinking going forward in life?

Keven Taguchi: Well, not only, you know, that brought on other complications, you know, after I had my Aorta to shredded it caused all these blood clots. And so after I, you know, it was saved by my surgeon. I had four strokes. Two days later caused by these blood clots. So not only a head injury and in my heart area injury to my brain, I mean, one trauma, enough is enough to completely change your life. And I had to deal with both simultaneously and then a week later because the rip was so bad it went down my leg, cut off the blood flow to my kidney. So then I was dying of kidney failure several days after that. So I had a second surgery after that. So it was kind of one thing [00:19:00] that led to another. And fortunately I was able to survive everything.

Louis Goodman: How long ago was that now?

Keven Taguchi: Seven years ago.

Louis Goodman: And do you consider yourself completely recovered?

Keven Taguchi: It’s you can never recover from something like that. Louis. It’s just, you just don’t, it’s like, as I tell people, it’s like a lightning hitting a tree. You’re the tree is gone, but the roots are still there and then you grow and you just let it grow a different way.

Louis Goodman: Yeah, I mean, I remember when you were going through that and I remember coming down to the hospital and visiting you and, you know, seeing your family there and I mean it, you know, I mean, it was just something that one would do. And you know, I certainly remember that.

Keven Taguchi: Yeah, it was very unexpected, came out of literally nowhere and, you know, I always kept in shape and you [00:20:00] know, my friends and family, it was, you know, the best. Shape the person they knew and to something like this happened to me, that was very, very surprising.

But on the other hand, I think it contributed to my survival.

Louis Goodman: Now you have a couple of children?

Keven Taguchi: Yes. I have two children.

Louis Goodman: And how has practicing law related to you and your relationship with your kids?

Keven Taguchi: Well, because I had my own practice. I’m able to have a lot more flexibility. And so I can spend a lot more time with my kids as they were growing up to be able to go to their school functions and see their sporting events.

And so it’s been very, it’s been great, but I contribute that, you know, the fact that it’s because of my own business, having the flexibility of having my own practice too, the ability to be able to be there for my kids when during significant times in their life.

Louis Goodman: What, if [00:21:00] anything, would you change about the way the legal system works?

Keven Taguchi: I don’t know if, what I have to say can even, you know, could help it. This is really minor things, depending on what’s being done, but nothing really, I don’t really have anything significant to change the overall system. It’s imperfect, but it’s a beautiful system, Louis.

And as we practice law and when we realized the power of the courtroom rest, but the people in the jury, or just ordinary citizens of your community, it’s really, really beautiful, very powerful. And it’s very humbling.

Louis Goodman: Do you think the system is fair? Do you think the legal system is fair?

Keven Taguchi: Well, it’s not perfect.

Like I said, you know, I mean, what is perfect, but it strives to be perfect. It strives to have what I love about our system. It [00:22:00] promotes and strives for that, for that outcome, to be fair.

Louis Goodman: I don’t know, year we’ve been dealing with this COVID thing and that is certainly put a crimp in a lot of our activities.

But before that, what sort of travel experience have you had? Where have you been in the world?

Keven Taguchi: I’ve been all over Europe. I’ve been up there. A lot of Asia, Central America, Australia, and New Zealand. I would consider myself well-traveled. I have yet to go to Africa or South America.

Louis Goodman: Any place in particular that you really enjoyed?

Keven Taguchi: It’s very advanced city. It is very clean. People are very hospitable. People are very honest. The technology there is mind blowing, the food culture. It’s an amazing city.

Louis Goodman: Now you were partially of Japanese descent, [00:23:00] right?

Keven Taguchi: Yes. My father was full Japanese.

Louis Goodman: And do you speak any of the language?

Keven Taguchi: No, he grew up during the war and he felt the need to America.

And he tried to distance himself from the Japanese language and culture to be more, to assimilate more. So he did. So we were not really encouraged to speak Japanese. So, no, as I tell my friends only in a restaurant.

Louis Goodman: if you couldn’t be a lawyer, is there some other job or profession that you would choose to do?

Keven Taguchi: I never really thought of that. I just, I never really thought of that. I consider myself being able to adapt and do whatever I could want to put my mind to. So, but I’ve never done that yet. And as I’m kind of [00:24:00] concluding my career in law, you know, I’m starting to think about what other alternatives are there.

Maybe some type of private business, but I don’t know, Louis it’s the only thing I know right now.

Louis Goodman: What sort of things keep you up at night?

Keven Taguchi: You mean like what goes through my mind? I don’t know. My sleep is terrible, but I don’t know.

Louis Goodman: Mine too. So that’s why I asked, you know.

Keven Taguchi: I blame that on, what happened to me.

I don’t want to sleep, you know, I just, I want to experience. I know what death is. I want to experience as much as I can before I revisit that. And so going to sleep is, is difficult for me. Since I have it.

Louis Goodman: Let’s say you came into some real money. I mean, like a few billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?

[00:25:00] Keven Taguchi: Live in a nicer house, in a nicer area.

Louis Goodman: Well, you live in a pretty nice house in a pretty nice area.

Keven Taguchi: I would have to, you know, the, the power of money is, you know, the power to affect other people. And I would hopefully try to spend it in a way that would help other people. Benefit other people, but I can, you know, I do that in my own small way, you know, with my employees and people that I come into contact with on my smaller basis, I would just probably do more of that.

Louis Goodman: Can you be specific about any of that?

Keven Taguchi: Well, if an employee of mine has had some kind of personal issue where they’re struggling or need money, I’ll be there for them. Friends, those types of situations.

Louis Goodman: Let’s see you had a magic wand and there was one thing that you could change in the world and the legal world, or just the world in general.

[00:26:00] What one thing would you like to change?

Keven Taguchi: I would love to change the people’s awareness. That their life in and of itself is the joy.

Louis Goodman: Yeah. Well, Kevin, is there anything else that you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed that’s on the list or not on the list or anything else you wanted to bring up?

Keven Taguchi: Since your show is focusing on the practice of law and lawyers in general. And for those listening that are contemplating a life of law, go for it. And obviously if you’re a talented lawyer, the money will be there, but don’t go into it for money, go into it for helping people. The. Philosophy that I’ve been practicing with in my own firm [00:27:00] has always been putting the client needs first, the client’s case first and put any type of personal needs behind that. That’ll the better you take care of your client. You will be taken care of and you have to have state and that do not put your needs first. Then if you do, then that’s where the problems will come in.

Always put the client’s needs first.

Louis Goodman: Kevin Taguchi. Thank you so much for joining me today on Love Thy Lawyer. I really enjoyed talking to you and learning a little bit more about you.

Keven Taguchi: Thank you, Louis. It was really fun as well, and it was really nice catching up with you as well.

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 [00:28:00] look at our website at, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information. Thanks as always to my guests who share their wisdom and to Joel Katz music, Brian Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey.

I’m Louis Goodman.

Keven Taguchi: I believe in fairness, you know, I really have a gut reaction to what is fair and it’s just kind of comes naturally to me. And so that’s, you know, it’s an instinct I have and I operate on that instinct of fairness. And when I see something that’s not fair, you know, I love the law because I can correct it.

I can help set it right.

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