Laura Robinson / Louis Goodman – Transcript

Laura Robinson / Louis Goodman – Transcript

Louis Goodman 00:03

Welcome to Love Thy Lawyer where we talk to practicing attorneys about their lives and careers. I’m Louis Goodman. Before starting her own criminal defense practice, Laura Robinson served as a Contra Costa County Public Defender. She’s tried over 75 cases to jury verdict, and handled numerous serious felony matters, including murder, kidnapping, and rape. She’s argued in front of the Ninth Circuit, and filed a writ in the United States Supreme Court. She’s an avid roller skater, and perhaps most impressive, she’s a Burning Man veteran, Laura Robinson, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.

Laura Robinson 00:51

Thank you, Louis. And thank you for having me. I’m not sure if I should edit some of the nicer things you’ve said about me. But I could leave it as you put them.

Louis Goodman 01:01

Well, is there anything that you want to correct? You go ahead and correct it right now.

Laura Robinson 01:05

Well, I hate anything sort of to be misrepresented about me. And while I’d like to say I’ve tried 75 cases to jury verdict, I’ve tried at least 78 cases, but not all of them to verdict. Some of them in the middle of trial got dismissed, some of them dealt. And some of them clients just got terrified and just needed to take a deal to not come back. When you try a lot of cases in Contra Costa County and Martinez, where you probably have tried cases, I’ve had numerous and I mean, numerous experiences, where you look behind you at the group of 70 people who are brought up in the potential jury pool, and there is not one person of color. And when you have an African American defendant, it’s terrifying. That is not a jury of their peers. So that is part of the reason not all of my cases that I’ve tried have gone to verdicts though all of them have resulted in a sworn jury. Just some of them fell apart along the way, though most of them have gone to verdict.

Louis Goodman 02:17

But you’ve had over 75 cases where jury has gotten sworn in.

Laura Robinson 02:22

Yeah, at least 78. Yeah, I wasn’t keeping track in the beginning. I somehow thought, you put so much work into a trial, you’re going to remember who every case is and who every face is and every defense you ever postured in front of a jury. And the reality is after this many years, you don’t. So I only started keeping track sort of partway through it. And what I counted is 78, there’s probably a lot more.

Louis Goodman 02:48

Laura, where are you speaking to us from right now?

Laura Robinson 02:52

I am actually been speaking from my home office, I have had a home office since I opened my private practice in 2004. I also maintain a regular office, but I really only go there to meet clients. And that is in the rotunda building in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Louis Goodman 03:11

In downtown Oakland.

Laura Robinson 03:12

In downtown Oakland. And if you haven’t been in the building, it’s really pretty amazing. It’s spectacular.

Louis Goodman 03:18

I agree. I have been in the building and it is spectacular. What type of practice do you have?

Laura Robinson 03:24

Well, since I started out as a Deputy Public Defender in criminal law, my experience, which is pretty vast at this point, is in criminal defense. When I started practicing on my own and opened up my own shingle, as they say, I started doing federal criminal defense as well. I’ve been on the federal panels a few times. And then I started branching out to professional licensed defense. So the bulk of my practice is still criminal defense. But I also have a growing and more robust practice in defending people that are losing professional licenses like nurses, I represent quite a few nurses, daycare providers, anytime they try to take their license. I am defending them in those cases.

Louis Goodman 04:15

How long have you been practicing law?

Laura Robinson 04:18

Oh, goodness. So I have been practicing since 1988. And I had a little bit of a mishap, would be a gentle way of saying it which delayed my practice because I graduated from law school in 1987. And I guess I decided to break my back and shatter vertebrae in a motorcycle accident when I was supposed to take the bar. So a month in the hospital and six months in or seven months in a full body cast weighed me in practicing. But it’s the end of 1988 is when I actually started practicing due to the delay.

Louis Goodman 04:54

Where are you from originally?

Laura Robinson 04:58

I’m from Chicago.

Louis Goodman 04:54

Is that where you went to high school?

Laura Robinson 05:01

I did. I went to high school in Chicago, I went to college at the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, which I just absolutely loved. I loved it so much. I was looking at the older people walking around campus, thinking that that is going to be my destiny. I’m going to be one of those people that never leave. So I decided to do my senior year studying abroad in London, to sort of get me out of Champaign Urbana, because I just loved it too much. And so then I went to London, where I finished my last year of college, and then I stayed another year. So I spent two years in London.

Louis Goodman 05:36

And where do you study in London?

Laura Robinson 05:38

I went to University College London, which is basically in central London. And I had some pretty unique living situations there for six months, I lived in a squat, which is at least at the time was legal there, you could take an abandoned building and live there. And my boyfriend at the time and his friends had found this building right on campus, I think used to be campus housing. And we lived in that building with our friends for free in the squat, and it was pretty amazing.

Louis Goodman 06:11

Did it have any heat or water?

Laura Robinson 06:13

It had water, heat is an interesting question. We did have electricity, but I don’t remember it being too cold there. We wouldn’t have had air conditioning because it’s central London. Yeah. I mean, you don’t have a landline because back then nobody had cell phones. So we didn’t have a phone, which is sort of amazing. Because at the time you don’t realize how cut off you are from the rest of the world when you don’t have any type of phone.

Louis Goodman 06:38

Now, you said you had a really great experience at Urbana. Well, what about it was so good?

Laura Robinson 06:44

Yeah, maybe part of was, it was the first time I’d gotten out of the house on my own. And my chance to sort of establish myself on my own, under my own ground rules. And I loved that, my roommate for the three years I was there was my best friend since I was eight years old. And we’re still best friends. And we just had a blast. I thought the classes were really challenging. I loved the social life. I just felt like the people I met there were, they challenged me intellectually and in so many different levels. It was like this whole new world opened up for me when I went there. And it’s a huge campus. There’s like 40,000 students.

Louis Goodman 07:25


Laura Robinson 07:27

Or was it 20,000? I think was 40,000, including grad students. I mean, it’s a huge campus. And I just felt like there’s something there for everybody.

Louis Goodman 07:35

Now, when you graduate from college, you ultimately went to law school. Did you take some time off between college and law school or just go right through?

Laura Robinson 07:43

Yeah. So I did take a year off because as I said, I was in London and spent another year in London. And what I did was, I worked really hard in different jobs making and saving as much money as possible to pay for law school. So I did use that year off or what people I guess now call a gap year, they at that time. And I applied to law schools while I was in London, and while I was working and saving money, and I was, yeah….

Louis Goodman 08:14

What sort of work were you doing?

Laura Robinson 08:17

Anything. Well, I when I first got there, I had trouble assimilating into the culture only because I felt like in London, my university warned me about this, that they are not necessarily so friendly to visiting students. And every time they send somebody to University College, London, they all come home early. And so I wasn’t going to be a failure. So I got a job at the university bar. The university actually had a bar on site at the Union. And I became a bartender there and that’s where I met my best friend there. My boyfriend there. My next housemate there, it just totally opened up my life, that did not pay very well. But I worked in clubs, like nightclubs, I waitressed, I bartended. I sold clothes, like from business to business carrying around these clothes. I was very enterprising and very determined. And when you live in a squat, you have almost no expenses. And when you work in a restaurant, you get basically your meals. So I really wasn’t spending any money. And all I did was save money in the shops and I was working two, three jobs.

Louis Goodman 09:30

Now at some point you decided you were going to apply to law school and what law school did you go to?

Laura Robinson 09:37

I went to, what was then called UC Hastings. It just changed its name, I think starting January 1 2023 to UC Law, San Francisco, because the Mr. Hastings apparently was not so kind to the indigenous people. So I went to UC Hastings and I applied there from London having never been to California. I knew nothing about California. And all I knew was at the UC Hastings Law Schools were some of the best in the nation. I also applied to University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, and I was accepted. But as I said, I was worried, I was going to get stuck there for the rest of my life. Even though I did love it. I wanted my life to be, you know, broader than that. So I applied to UC Hastings, not knowing even there was a difference between Northern California and Southern California, which might sound very naive. But this is before the age of the internet. I was living in London, I didn’t know anybody that was living in California, from California at that time. And I was really disappointed to land in San Francisco in August. And I lived in the Richmond District when I first got there. And every morning, it was drizzly and rainy and cold, and I was expecting California summers, I thought it was going to be summer year round, and in the Richmond District it’s never summer. And so it took me a little while to adjust to being in San Francisco. And then of course, I’m still here. So I love it.

Louis Goodman 11:11

What was it and when was it that you decided you want to be a lawyer?

Laura Robinson 11:17

I’m not going to say I ever decided that, I actually wanted to be a doctor. And I was pre-med and I took pre-med courses in college, I took everything but physics and organic chemistry, I was even a physiology tutor in college because I excelled in that kind of stuff. And I had a deep interest in science and in medicine. People kept telling me what a great education law school was, which having been there, I really couldn’t find that to be further from the truth. I would not say it’s a great education. But I felt like being a doctor was going to just be harder than being a lawyer and it really sort of came down to medical school is going to be more demanding and longer and the residency and all that training you have to do, I felt like I’d rather cut to the chase, I knew I had a very logical brain, I think on a linear level, I felt like I would be a natural lawyer. So I sort of switched gears. It wasn’t that I ever really wanted to be a lawyer, but it is what it became. And it really did suit me and I became very passionate about it.

Louis Goodman 12:31

Do you think having taken some time off between college and law school, working the bartending jobs and the clothing retail jobs in London made you more focused once you got to law school?

Laura Robinson 12:47

Well, I do feel that people that take time off between college and law school tend to do better in law school, because they know what they want. I’m not going to say that made me more focused, but having to pay for everything myself. And I didn’t have anybody assisting me. And I did have the benefit of some loans, I would say that probably kept me more focused that this is my hard-earned money that I am using, and I worked really hard for that money to save that money. So I would say that kept me focused. I do think it wasn’t really the case for me, but it would be advisable for people to take time off before going to law school, because law school and being a lawyer is really not for everybody.

Louis Goodman 13:31

Who do you think it’s for?

Laura Robinson 13:33

It the people do well in it. And I would say that, and people would probably not disagree with me that when I started as a lawyer, I was a pretty confrontational, argumentative person, I would submit that at this point, I’ve gotten it out of my system, having argued so much in court, like I want my personal and my social life to be smooth. I don’t consider myself argumentative anymore. And I feel like there’s bigger things in life than just to argue about things. And I tend to walk away from those types of scenarios now. But I would say people that are argumentative do well, people that are very, very logical, people that have a good memory for detail, which I tend to remember the things in great detail, which is extremely helpful when you’re cross examining somebody, and you sort of have to go with what they’re saying and fly by the seat of their pants, and also compare it to the previous statements they made. That’s something that I feel I could do really well because I could retain those facts. I don’t know why, but it always happened to me naturally.

Louis Goodman 14:43

What was your first legal job? And can you take us from that job through your career up to where you are now where you have this very successful practice that is your own?

Laura Robinson 14:56

Sure. My first legal job was actually sort of funny and I’m going to say accidental. When I was in law school, as you probably experienced yourself when you were in law school, people say, what kind of lawyer do you want to be? My answer was always, invariably, not criminal law. And I don’t want to be in a courtroom. That’s what I felt at the time, which is sort of the two things I ended up doing. But that’s how I felt. And I felt like the last thing I wanted to be was the person who goes to court, especially somebody who goes to court every day, excuse me, which is basically me. A good friend of mine from law school was working at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office. His name is Bill. And Bill said to me, you know, they really need lawyers right now at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office, I really think you should apply. This is after I finally was able to take the bar, I traveled and I was back in San Francisco, I passed the bar, I’m back in San Francisco. I wasn’t even looking for a job yet. And he says, I really suggest you apply. And my comment to him was, what’s Contra Costa County? Where it is that? I’d never even heard of it.

And I said, the last thing I want to do is be a Public Defender. And then about a month later, I see Bill again, and he’s like the Public Defender’s Office is really desperate to have new attorneys right now. I really think you should apply. And I’m like, Okay, fine. He’s like, I think it would be a good fit for you. And I’m not believing him. But I’m like, Okay, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I applied for the job. They grant me an interview, the public defender at the time was named Charlie James. And I sit down for an interview with Charlie James. And I would not advise anyone doing this in an interview. Charlie said to me, so why do you want to be a Public Defender? And my answer was, I don’t, I said, Bill Greene suggested I do this. And so here I am applying, he thought it would be a good fit for me, but I go, it’s not something I really thought I would have an interest in doing. And with a straight face, Charlie looks at me, he’s like, okay, he’s like, well, we’re only looking for temporary attorneys on a contract type basis. Why don’t we try you out? And why don’t you try us out? And that’s all she wrote. And it was within a couple months of being in there, I realized that Bill was right. This was truly my calling.

Louis Goodman 17:30

What made being a Public Defender your true passion and calling?

Laura Robinson 17:35

I did not understand until I became a Public Defender, the breadth of inequity that happens to people of color, particularly African American males in the system. And this was before a police had body cameras and people had recorders on phones because nobody had phones then. And I keep hearing the same stories over and over again about how the police did this or that to them, beat them up, I would see evidence of their wounds. There would be nothing in the police reports about these kinds of things. I would talk to witnesses that observed incidents, witnesses that were completely unrelated to the defendants, they would give consistent stories with what my clients would say, which are complete in contrast to what the police do. I saw how much power prosecutors have just like police. And while there are many good police officers, and it’s a hard job, and there’s also good and honest District Attorneys, and prosecutors and US attorneys. The opportunity for injustice and unfair treatment is there. It’s present. And it’s rampantly used maybe not quite as much now that there’s body camera footage, and people have video recorders on their cell phones. But I saw how much inequity there was and I felt like, as a Deputy Public Defender, I was up against a tidal wave every day of people that are against my clients, just because they are charged with a crime.

And because the police are making these statements about them, and I felt like every time I walked into a jury trial, the jury would hate me just from the initial walking in there, jury hates you until you win them over. The witnesses hate, the prosecution hate you, any complaining witnesses often referred to as victims, and they’re not actually victims. I have also learned that as well. Judges often hate you, because you’re fighting the system and certainly the prosecutors hate you. And I feel like it wasn’t about me, it was about my clients. And I felt like somebody needs to be there to speak for them because they can’t speak for themselves. So it just became really important for me to be that person and I feel like I’ve changed people’s lives by saving them from being wrongfully convicted. So it’s just an extremely important job. And I would also say that it’s made me a better person to be a defense attorney. Because it had to make me I would say I was already sort of empathic and a compassionate person. But it’s made me less judgmental, that I was going into that job. And I’m not trying to say I started out very judgmental, but it made me a better person to defend people who had a different life.

Louis Goodman 20:39

Obviously, the Public Defender’s Office in Contra Costa County turned out to be more than just a temporary job. So how long did you stay there?

Laura Robinson 20:48

I was there roughly 15 years and I rose up to the level of Public Defender, which is a competitive position, is not management. I never applied to be management, but it was there for a long time. And that’s where I tried many of the really heavy cases that I tried, I felt like far more than my share.

Louis Goodman 21:07

When you left the Public Defender’s Office, did you immediately open up your own practice or do some other private work?

Laura Robinson 21:14

I immediately opened up my own practice. And I thought, well, isn’t this interesting, I have my own practice, I could do this at my own time, at my own schedule whenever I want, I could do it on the weekends or the evenings. So I started doing appeals from the First District Appellate project. And I soon found out that I miss going to court and I didn’t like doing appeals. And I really was a trial lawyer at heart. And so I gave up the appellate practice. And I got on the Alameda County panel, and I basically opened up a shingle, I didn’t even initially have a website. And then I got a website. And I eventually started getting, you have one client in custody who sees you do really well. And all of a sudden you have 10 other guys in custody that are calling you that want you to be their lawyer, and I’m here I already started getting a huge practice, just from the from the get.

Louis Goodman 22:10

What do you really like about practicing law?

Laura Robinson 22:13

I like speaking for people who can’t speak for themselves, life is not fair. And it’s particularly not fair to certain people. I liked finding justice where I can.

Louis Goodman 22:26

Would you recommend that to a young person thinking about a career choice was just getting out of college?

Laura Robinson 22:31

Well, actually, it’s funny that you say that because I feel very proud that I talked my niece out of going to law school.

Louis Goodman 23:39

Out of going to law school?

Laura Robinson 22:40

Out of going into law school, who incidentally is in labor right now, which is very exciting. And she ended up going to London School of Economics, and really finding her niche was different than law school. I just feel like a lot of people get funneled into law school because it’s a serious graduate degree. But I do find that most of my friends who do not do criminal law do not enjoy practicing law. So it’s really not for everybody. And I feel like this sort of misnomer about it being such a great education sends people into law school thinking you could do so much with a law degree, where it’s a little challenging to do that. And so I don’t feel it’s for everybody.

Louis Goodman 23:26

Yeah, I think being a criminal defense lawyer and having one’s own practice is a real privilege.

Laura Robinson 23:32

Yeah, yeah, it is a privilege.

Louis Goodman 23:35

How has actually practicing law met or differed from your expectations?

Laura Robinson 23:40

I’m going to say I didn’t have any expectations. Because I wasn’t really sure what kind of lawyer really wanted to be, I felt actually pretty lost in law school. And then when I started, as a Public Defender, I really didn’t have any expectations other than I expected not to like it. And it just really was the perfect position for me. And it’s been the perfect career for me.

Louis Goodman 24:05

What about the business of practicing law? I mean, all of us who are practitioners who have our own offices, on some level there’s a business to run and I’m wondering how that aspect of the practice has gone for you and how you’ve managed to make that work.

Laura Robinson 24:26

I don’t know how you feel about it. But for me, it’s the worst part of having your own practice, which I really did not fully comprehend until I started doing it. I don’t like the business end of it, and also constantly, as you probably are to getting calls, sign up for this and sign up for that. And it’s really pretty annoying, but I don’t like the administrative part of practicing law. And I have to say one of the beauties of being a Public Defender is that if you’re not in management, is that you don’t do anything administrative. You have your clients, you go to court, you fight your clients cases, and you don’t have to worry about any administrative end of it. And that’s a pure practice of law. And that is the one thing I miss about being a Public Defender is you get to just do the pure practice of law, we have to do all these other things that we have to manage as sole practitioners, or is it somebody in a private law firm.

Louis Goodman 25:24

Yeah, I was never a Public Defender. But I was a Deputy District Attorney. And I think it was the exact same thing. It was great. You had your cases, you could deal with it on a purely legal way, you could go practice law, and you didn’t have to think about any of the running the business aspects of it. Some government administrator took care of all that. Yeah. I mean, I think I’ve become a much better business person over the years. But it wasn’t something that I really thought about that much. But I realized over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it.

Laura Robinson 26:05

More time than you probably wanted to.

Louis Goodman 26:08

Oh, yeah. 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?

Laura Robinson 26:17

Well, when I first started practicing, and of course, I didn’t know what I was doing. And when I started as a Public Defender, they were very short on attorneys. And basically, they threw me into court at my very first day there, I didn’t even know what arraignment meant. Because you don’t learn things like that in law school, I didn’t know real basic things, I didn’t even know sort of how to be in a persona, so to speak. And one of the more senior lawyers told me one of the few that weren’t on vacation when I started, told me, especially in front of a jury, you are best just being yourself. And don’t try to pretend like you see people on TV and if you’re not a dramatic kind of person and a pound on the table person, don’t try to be someone you’re not. And I think what works for me is, I am myself, and I feel like I’m just very genuine, very direct, tell it like it is. And it’s worked for me in my life. And it works for me and my law practice.

Louis Goodman 27:17

And is that the advice you would give to a young attorney as well? Is there anything else that you would tell a young person starting out?

Laura Robinson 27:23

I was just thinking I didn’t answer the second half of your question. I mean, yeah, if you’re going to court Yeah, I would just say also be honest. I think there’s a lot of people out there because lawyers are people, like anyone else. Not everyone’s so honest. And be honest.

Louis Goodman 27:42

Is there anything that you would change about the way the legal system works?

Laura Robinson 27:47

Those are really big, important questions. And I would say that when people ask me questions about do you think there’s justice in this world? My answer is justice is random. And I see justice happen. And I see justice not happening. And I can’t explain why it happens for one person and not for another. I’m not even talking in my cases, it could be something on the news or some colleagues case you see, I don’t have any– I really haven’t had spent or had time to spend on what could make it more fair or better. But I hope there’s something because I do find that justice is random. I can say that the body cameras that officers wear have changed the practice of law, because even when they’re wearing them, they will still write a report sometimes that are contrary to what you could see and hear. Or they omit really, I’m in a trial right now, and a police officer omitted the most important part from a defendants perspective of what the complaining witness said. So I think that has helped shift the fairness on the playing field. But there’s still a lot more shifts to happen.

Louis Goodman 29:08

Well, do you think the legal system is fair?

Laura Robinson 29:11

I think it’s random, randomly fair. Sometimes it’s fair. Sometimes it’s not. It depends on what DA you have. It depends on what Judge you have. It depends on could be the way the wind is blowing from what I can tell sometimes. It depends on the jury, if you got a great jury pool that could change the outcome of your case. Yeah, it’s random.

Louis Goodman 29:35

Going to shift gears here a little bit, Laura, what’s your family life been like and how is practicing law affected that fit into it, how do these things work together?

Laura Robinson 29:45

Well, as far as family life goes, I don’t have any kids that I know of. So it’s just been me and I have extended family and I have a lot of friends. When you’re in trial, as you know that’s your focus. And you could be working a 12, 14 hour day. And that really takes a slice out of your personal life. And for me, it’s really important to have like a free weekend, like the whole weekend without working. And if I’m in a jury trial, I will only work one day of the weekend, I have to have a balance.

Louis Goodman 30:27

So what sort of things do you do to balance things out?

Laura Robinson 30:30

Well, you did mention I was a big roller skater and I was a big roller skater. I was really more into inline skating. And I used to addictively do group skates in San Francisco, like the Friday night skate like a 12 mile skate through San Francisco. I did that for more than 10 years. Currently, I’m in a Brazilian Samba reggae drumming band. And that is pretty amazing. It’s been a challenge for me to learn all the songs which you have to know by heart combined with choreography, and it’s all done by hand signals from the conductor. And I’ve performed three times in this band and it’s a blast. But it’s a very challenging thing for me.

Louis Goodman 31:13

You said you did some travel after law school, what was that about and what other travel experiences have you had?

Laura Robinson 31:23

Well, when you live in London, you are so close to the continent. It’s just really easy to hop over to Paris or to and so I did a lot of European travel when I lived there. And then when I was a Public Defender, you are basically blessed with six weeks of paid vacation a year. So I used to take a month off and leave the country every year and go somewhere. So I have been to 40 something countries and I love to travel. I’ve traveled with a girlfriend. I’ve traveled with a boyfriend. I’ve traveled on my own and I’m very comfortable doing that.

Louis Goodman 32:00

Where have you gone? Where have you been?

Laura Robinson 31:02

Where haven’t I been? Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Galapagos, Ecuador, Morocco.

Louis Goodman 32:18

A lot of places.

Laura Robinson 31:19

A lot of places. Most of the countries in Europe. Yeah, China, Hong Kong. Yeah, I love to travel. I just think it’s really amazing. And to immerse yourself in a culture. Yeah.

Louis Goodman 32:32

Yeah, I’ve traveled quite a bit. And I think that my travel experiences have been really the most educational experiences of my life. I mean, despite having a lot of formal education, traveling is really eye opening and teaches you lessons that really stick.

Laura Robinson 32:51

Yeah. And to talk to people from different cultures and to see how they live. And one of my best trips with I don’t think I mentioned Peru is Machu Picchu. And this, which was the same trip as the Galapagos. And yeah, it is really eye opening, especially being on the Galapagos. And you just learned so much than people who come in and just take a little boat trip there and leave, we actually stayed on the islands. And you just learn so much from the people and the politics. And there’s so much more to do a deep dive into.

Louis Goodman 33:26

Laura, I know you’ve been to Burning Man, I know you’ve been there more than once. I’m wondering if you could tell us how you got started going to Burning Man, how many times you’ve been there and what your experiences there have been?

Laura Robinson 33:37

Well, that’s an interesting question. And you’d probably be surprised at how many lawyers have been to Burning Man, so many won’t admit it. In fact, in my last Burning Man camp of about 20, 25 people, there were four lawyers in the camp. I first went in 2001, about three weeks after I got out of an 11 year relationship. And I went with a friend who had also just gotten out of a long term relationship. I wanted to know nothing about Burning Man, I wanted to be a surprise. In fact, my friends said you have to bring goggles and I thought, oh, they’re so pretentious. They want everyone to look so steampunky or whatever, by all wearing goggles. She goes, no, no, it gets really dusty there. And it turns out you really need goggles. But I ended up going. It ended up being an amazing thing for me and it opened up my life and my life to a new community of human beings and art and I ended up going 16 times. I liked it so much that I ended up buying an RV to make my life at Burning Man more comfortable.

I did use the RV for other things, but it’s a pretty amazing experience. And there’s a lot of people that talk about Burning Man and how it’s mainstream or commercial or it’s all about sex or drugs or something and there could be, there is some of that there though I’m not sure how commercial it really is, but I would say most people at Burning Man, everyone goes for different reasons. But there’s incredible art, like giant art, you climb and roaming art cars that breathes fire and play music from incredible stereos. And you dance all night, while being driven around, looking at amazing art and the costumes and people are nice to each other there. It’s like this little microcosm of a community where maybe it’s only a week or 10 days out of the year, but people make a big effort to be nice to each other. And in the true socialist kind of streak I’m in or I’ve always been in I, there’s no money exchanged at Burning Man, you pay a lot of money unfortunately for a ticket, but once there, there’s nothing for sale. And you could go to somebody’s restaurant and they serve you food, they don’t charge you, you could go to a bar, they serve you a drink, you could ride their rides, you could do anything you want. And there’s just no money exchange in hand. So everybody’s on an equal footing there. And I really like that. There’s no hierarchy. And they can’t exclude you from places.

Louis Goodman 36:14

Did you find that the experience changed from year to year?

Laura Robinson 36:18

No, people talk about how Burning Man is not the same as it ever was. And I find that people that say that have never actually been to Burning Man. When I first went in 2001, I think there were about 20,000 people that went to Burning Man, now it’s about 70, 75,000 people that go to Burning Man, so it’s bigger, the art is better. There’s instead of more stationary art, there’s more art cars that drive around all equipped, you can’t just drive a regular vehicle there, it has to be something that’s deemed an art car by the DMV, which is the Department of mutant vehicles. Yeah. And you have to get the night license and the day license, it’s actually fairly regulated to try to keep things safe, or like you have to have it lit up. But I think the fire-breathing type of our cars that drive around are probably a lot more numerous than they used to be. And I love the costumes. It’s like Halloween there every day. And I would have my daytime costume during the hot weather and the nighttime costume. I mean it’s just a blast. And it’s a really great way to bond with people.

Louis Goodman 37:24

Now at some point you decided you were going to stop going to Burning Man, why was that?

Laura Robinson 37:29

I think 16 times at Burning Man is enough. And my sweet 16 Venture there was tremendous as were so many of them. And I actually had to sell my RV to make sure I wouldn’t go again because as long as I had the RV I kept feeling like oh, I spent so much money to maintain this log of a old 1991 RV, my mind is will take it to Burning Man again. So once I sold my RV in 2020. I haven’t been back since.

Louis Goodman 37:56

All right, great. Well, I think we covered Burning Man. Is there someone you’d like to meet living or dead?

Laura Robinson 38:03

I love Barack and Michelle Obama, I would love to meet them. I don’t think they’re going to fit me into their calendar. But I find them to be incredible human beings.

Louis Goodman 38:12

What mistakes do you think lawyers make?

Laura Robinson 38:15

They overstate their case. They exaggerate. They’re not honest. I’ve caught prosecutors in those kinds of situations. And I’ve seen defense attorneys do that, and it’s going to get you in trouble. Maybe not now but later. I just think being really genuine. The facts are the facts. And you could spin them, but don’t say something that’s untrue.

Louis Goodman 38:41

Let’s say you came into some real money, three or four billion dollars, what, if anything, would you do differently in your life?

Laura Robinson 38:51

Frankly, I’d be happy coming into three or four million dollars all at once. I would maybe stop working, maybe stop taking new clients. I would not blow it, I would probably donate a fair amount to people in causes that are needy and need the money. I think I’m a socialist at heart. I’d like to see that more equitable. And I’d like to do my part in that.

Louis Goodman 39:15

Let’s say you had a magic wand, there was one thing you could change in the world, the legal world or otherwise, what would that be?

Laura Robinson 39:22

Eliminate racism.

Louis Goodman 39:24

Let’s say someone gave you 60 seconds on the Super Bowl. You have a Super Bowl ad. Could say whatever you wanted to ask you really, really big audience. What would you want to say?

Laura Robinson 39:36

Be kind to each other. Especially in the recent years, people are just not nice anymore. And people have gotten– there’s been like a license to just unleashed on people. And I’d like to see people be kinder to each other.

Louis Goodman 39:50

If someone wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Laura Robinson 39:55

Well, my website is probably the best way to do that because it gives an email, a phone and my website you want me to tell you that?

Louis Goodman 40:02


Laura Robinson 40:03

It’s And that’s Laura, L-A-U-R-A

Louis Goodman 40:11

Laura Robinson, thank you so much for joining me today on the Love thy lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you.

Laura Robinson 40:19

Louis Goodman, I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me. And good luck with all the future lawyers you are interviewing. I think you’re doing a great service. Thank you very much.

Louis Goodman 40:31

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, 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 Roberts for social media and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.

Laura Robinson 41:13
Start that again, if you can ask the question again.

Louis Goodman 41:18
We’ll just leave that out.

Laura Robinson 41:20
Yeah, don’t even use that. Huh, I wasn’t prepared for that question. I bet if somebody asked you that question you would always have an answer.

Louis Goodman 41:31
I’m not so sure.

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