Nabiel Ahmed / Louis Goodman Transcript

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Louis Goodman / Nabiel Ahmed ā€“ Transcript

Louis Goodman 00:03

Welcome to the Alameda County Bar Association and the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. Today we welcome Nabiel Ahmed back to the podcast. No one has appeared on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast more often than Nabiel. He was my first guest and then he and his identical twin brother did a round table where we did a compare and contrast of Bay Area County legal systems.Nabiel is the owner and operator of a solo practice based in Alameda County, and he is a member of the ACBA. He has substantial experience defending criminal defendants in all stages of the proceedings, and he is expanding his practice into some other relevant areas. Nabiel Ahmed, welcome back to Love Thy Lawyer and the Alameda County Bar Association.Nabiel Ahmed 00:55 Well, Louis, thank you for having me back again, and just so happy to be here.

Louis Goodman 01:00

It’s always good to see you. We have certainly discussed this before, but for anyone who doesn’t know you, tell us a little bit about where your office is and what type of practice you have.

Nabiel Ahmed 01:13

Well, I am considered as a East Bay criminal defense attorney and I have offices out of Oakland and San Ramon. And I am still currently primarily residing out of the San Ramon office. I do my practice areas, most of my work out of these two counties, Alameda and Contra Costa County. Louis Goodman 01:31 What have you noticed is different about Alameda County versus Contra Costa County in terms of the practice?

Nabiel Ahmed 01:37

Right now, the use of remote proceedings in criminal cases is a major distinguishing factor between the two counties, Contra Costa County primarily being mandatory in person proceedings on most criminal matters. Alameda County being more flexible with the use of remote proceedings for the more routine types of court appearances in criminal cases.

Louis Goodman 01:58

Which do prefer?

Nabiel Ahmed 01:59

To be honest as a criminal defense practitioner, remote proceedings are great, but the truth is you need to be in person in order to effectively represent your client, advocate for your client, to get things done, you must be in the courthouse working with your colleagues. And it’s always best to be doing that on a consistent basis. So there are plenty of benefits to these remote proceedings and to the greater use of our meeting, conferencing technologies, but getting things done happens in court a lot. Of course it does happen offline as well. And that’s certainly nice, but you really have those powerful moving moments in person.

Louis Goodman 02:42
I think there’s a certain benefit in terms of talking to the DA and or the judge in person, if you’re there in court. And I also think there’s a certain benefit in terms of the client seeing what really happens in court and being there to witness other cases, you know, sort of the majesty of the high ceilings and the American flags, I think there is a certain benefit in terms of the client seeing that venue.

Nabiel Ahmed 03:10

Yeah, absolutely. For the client to stay true. And then realistically speaking, also for the, the attorneys as well, a lot of our learning is done in a courtroom. And sometimes we may discount that fact because we’re there so often and we take for granted perhaps how special the people are around us and how much knowledge they have and the fact that everything, the majority of things that are said in court, if not everything that is coming, that is said in a court context is meant to have a significant meaning behind it, one that could affect the outcome of a particular case. So lawyers usually, usually choose their words wisely. And that means if you listen to what they have to say, certainly with an open mind, you may learn something. And if you do that every day in court, you’re going to wind up learning a lot. And especially, we’re obviously so blessed to have some of the most intelligent people, I think on planet earth in our courthouses here locally.

Therefore, I know four years ago, I wanted remote proceedings, remote technology. Although it’s great. We’ve missed, I’ve missed being around my colleagues and just hearing them talk. And I’d like to shut up more when I go around. And hear what they have to say because they certainly, I don’t think I’ve laughed as much as I have in a courtroom, anywhere else, in any other context in my life, even though it may not be appropriate to laugh like that in a courtroom, I certainly do, and gosh, I miss it, and I’m, I’m glad to be back in a courtroom when I am.

Louis Goodman 04:46

Yeah, I think there’s a lot to be said for sitting in the jury box or just in the chairs in front of the rail and talking to your colleagues and sort of commenting on the proceedings. I know that I’ve certainly learned a lot from sitting in that jury box with other attorneys waiting for cases to be called.

Nabiel Ahmed 05:04

No doubt about it.

Louis Goodman 05:05

Nabil, you’ve been on the podcast before, and some of this may be review for people who have listened to all of the podcasts. But my guess is that most people have not. And for those who haven’t heard your initial podcast, can you just tell us a little bit about your educational background, where you grew up, where you went to high school, college, law school, bring us through your young years and up through your education.

Nabiel Ahmed 05:33

Yeah. I was educated in Bay Area schools pretty much my whole life. The furthest I traveled was UC Davis for college in terms of education. But I really am a product of the Burlingame school systems and I would like to acknowledge that they, that the school systems, you know it in Burlingame and on the Peninsula, a lot of our school systems here in the Bay Area are blessed to have some of the teachers also out there that are making significant positive impacts on the lives of children that are going on to do extraordinary things. So I was very fortunate to have grown up in those brilliant, you know, the brilliant name school district with. Incredible, amazing teachers and shout out to a history teacher. It was shout out to all of them. You know, a lot of them have positive impact.

Louis Goodman 06:25

You have a twin brother, an identical twin brother. What’s that been like growing up with an identical twin brother who’s also an attorney who I imagine occasionally has been mistaken for you and you mistaken for him in the courtroom?

Nabiel Ahmed 06:39

We were certainly mistaken for each other, plenty in the first few years. And, you know, just like in school with, it was, it was fun to get confused a little bit, but I think these days now he’s distinguished himself as a person so much, and I’ve done the same that really how it’s impacted and affected me is that he’s so damn competitive and he’s doing so well. And I am the same way. And it’s hard to let your foot off the gas and just take a break. Louis Goodman 07:18

Nabiel, what is it that you really like about practicing law? I mean, you’ve been doing it for quite a while and, you know, obviously you’re a bright guy, you could do something else if you wanted to, but what is it that keeps you as a lawyer?

Nabiel Ahmed 07:30

What I noticed the last few years I stopped, I started practicing more in the civil arena, some civil litigation and the nature of my cases became less exciting, I would say, and realistically, the things that I would talk about or think about or be able to present to others also became less interesting.

What I’ve noticed the further I’ve gone from criminal law, I think the less interesting of a human being I’ve become and that scares me. I would do anything to remain interesting.

Louis Goodman 08:12

I don’t think you need to worry about that, Nabiel. I think that you’re going to remain interesting no matter what.

Nabiel Ahmed 08:18

Well, at least I would at least have good stories, you know, and that you can only get being a criminal defense attorney or a prosecutor or law enforcement officer, you know, judge that kind of stuff.

Louis Goodman 08:31

Being around the criminal justice system.

Nabiel Ahmed 08:33

That’s right.

Louis Goodman 08:34

If a young person were just coming out of college, would you recommend the law as a career and specifically criminal defense or prosecution as a career?

Nabiel Ahmed 08:42

I think that my answer to this question might have changed from four years ago. This job is for those passionate in the law and specifically our field of the law. If somebody wants to be a prosecutor or a public defender or private criminal defense counsel, they should really know and understand what this is about do a tremendous amount of research. And if that’s who you are, yeah, come on board.

Louis Goodman 09:12

Would you recommend trying to get into a DA’s office or a Public Defender’s Office in order to get some experience before going out on your own?

Nabiel Ahmed 09:20

That’s the only way to do it. There’s no other way that you’re going to get the type of experience that the attorneys in those offices get otherwise, unless you’re just giving away legal services. Which some may choose to do, but that may not be a wise business model.

Louis Goodman 09:37

While we’re discussing business and the business of practicing law, I’d like you to comment on that and specifically talk about your business and the things that you do on the business side of things as a private solo practitioner.

Nabiel Ahmed 09:55

I think I touched on it a moment ago, how some people could give away legal services on the private side in order to gain that legal experience. And the truth is told, that is how I began my legal career as a private criminal attorney here in Alameda County, my brother did not. And so the compare and contrast was he was always more business-oriented that way, but I think the clientele, the criminal clientele of where his practice area was and the people who were servicing may have been different or the truth is just the mindset in how he approached the game, the business was different. It’s about a mindset as to how you are going to get business, generate business. And I didn’t really go in with a plan. I just wanted to do it. I joined the court appointed panel, the lawyer referral service, and by having a strong will and giving it a good effort, we’re still here today and doing the work that I’ve been enjoying this whole time.

Louis Goodman 11:00

One of the criticisms that I have about law schools and that I’ve heard from other attorneys about law schools is that they simply do not teach anything about the business of running a law practice. And I think for most of us, certainly myself included, we don’t have really good skills at business, and we have to develop those pretty much on our own. And I’m wondering what sort of skills you’ve developed as a legal businessperson and what tools you use in your practice that have helped you along the way? Nabiel Ahmed 11:38

I think the number one thing is learning people, understanding people, understanding your clientele.

So first off, of course, you’re trying to attract a certain kind of client, one that you can work with on, in a pleasant fashion and one that’s going to pay your legal fee on time. Of course, a brand new attorney who just hung up a shingle is going to look for the perfect paying client. So when a client hires me, I sold my services and what the services I’m selling are, I’m an effective litigator that will be nice to you in the process to help you achieve your goals.Louis Goodman 12:21 What sort of advertising and promotion have you used? Nabiel Ahmed 12:25 Everything that I could have possibly, any day I get calls every day from every kind of marketer under the sun.

Louis Goodman 12:33

Have you had any success with any of these marketing tools? Is anything sort of stood out as something that seems to work? Nabiel Ahmed 12:40 You don’t even necessarily even need positive results. You just have to be nice to your clients and they have, you know, some sincerity, some level of empathy and genuineness from you is all it takes to have a very successful law practice. You don’t need to be a Perry Mason on any case ever. Yeah, you don’t need to be a hotshot. You just have to be a nice person and offer people the service and provide them the service that they think they’re paying for. And if you can do that, you’re going to have a very successful practice.

Louis Goodman 13:18

What keeps you up at night?

Nabiel Ahmed 13:20

Filing deadlines now? I have to get one in before five o’clock. Again, I just made two deadlines before our meeting. Now, I’m just working on writing motions, making sure that they aren’t frivolous, that I’m not subjected to attorney’s fees, or my clients aren’t subjected to attorney’s fees based upon less than stellar legal work, managing client expectations and not committing malpractice. And of course, I like to do my best.

Louis Goodman 13:54

Let’s say you came at some real money, let’s say 3 or 4 billion dollars. What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?

Nabiel Ahmed 14:01

Enjoy it for as long as possible before I’m going to want to come back and hope to be accepted back into practicing here with you guys.

Louis Goodman 14:12

Nabiel, there are some other people on the call and I would like to give them an opportunity to have a word with you, to ask a question, to make a comment. Let’s start with Thomas Butzbach. Do you have a question or a comment for Nabiel Ahmed?

Thomas Butzbach 14:31

I have more of a comment. I just love the way that you, you’re candid and you’re, you just go, go for it. And I love that. And I also learned something from you today. It’s all about hard work. And I think that that’s what I, the message I get from you. I heard your brother and you on the podcast, and I thought both of you together were the most candid I’ve ever heard on Mr. Goodman’s podcast. So thank you for that. You stated that you think that for a young attorney, the avenue to learn the law is through the DA’s office or the Public Defender’s Office. My question is, can you get the expertise in a private law firm?

Nabiel Ahmed 15:15
Yeah, absolutely. There are a ton of great attorneys out there that can teach you the law. If you happen to be in a position where someone is willing and able to provide you with that guidance. I’ve seen that a lot and I think that’s great. I love that. You can certainly get that expertise through private defense bar as well. A hundred percent, Mr. Butzbach, yes.

Louis Goodman 15:41
tephen Richardson. Do you have a question or a comment for Nabiel?

Stephen Richardson 15:46

As someone who’s probably a little bit older than you, but is actually looking at, well, not looking at, doing, changing careers from tech to law since my once great tech career has imploded. And it’s interesting. I thought you put it really well, where to seek out as they’re starting out.

Louis Goodman 16:09
Stephen, are you currently a lawyer?

Stephen Richardson 16:12
No, I’m currently in law school and I’m looking to be a paralegal.

Louis Goodman 16:18
Where are you going to law school?

Stephen Richardson 16:20
So I’m doing online…

Louis Goodman 16:23
And you’re a member of the Alameda County Bar Association?

Stephen Richardson 16:26
I am, and Contra Costa.

Louis Goodman 16:28

And Contra Costa. Great. Well, I think that’s fantastic because I think as Nabiel would tell you, and certainly as I would tell you, networking and meeting people in person and online are great ways to launch a career. Stephen Richardson 16:45
Yes, a hundred percent agree.

Louis Goodman 16:46

Well, thank you for joining us. Cyn, are you there? It’s always fun talking to you.

Cyn 16:51

Thank you, Nabiel, for describing how your criminal practice is. I have to go back into law myself. And I loved what you said about, you know, how you’re, you wouldn’t be an interesting person if you didn’t have those criminal stories. And I remember all those stories and, you know, it gives you that certain stature and stuff.

And I took it as a warning, what you said about civil law, that I’m a boring person. Yes. So my question is now I have like a little bit of an issue going into criminal law. Because the way that I learned it was you have to court the criminal families in order to get those clients. And is that what you do to get your business? You court the criminals and get right in there.

Nabiel Ahmed 17:42

I did. And then, you know, I’ve also spent hundreds of thousands in marketing over all these years, at least 15. So I don’t think the marketing is for me, how the business was generated to be completely honest. I think it was the boots on ground effort that has generated the clientele for me this whole time.

So now that I went remote, boots off ground and I’ve had some of my best months. I had my best year this past year, but I don’t like feeling so far away from the courts and the action and everything. So that’s just my two cents there.

Cyn 18:32

So let me follow up on that question. And are you using that same approach to, to get your civil clients?

Nabiel Ahmed 18:40

People call you, you know, it’s like when you’re trying to play darts, you’re not always hitting bullseye, you’re catching other things. And so when you’re say, try to advertise, yeah, I’m a criminal lawyer. I get people that call me for probate. I get just randomly, you know, Hey, they call you. Hey, do you do this? Do you do that? You have also your criminal clients that get into car accidents and they’re filing, you know, and they’re filing, uh, personal injury lawsuits, getting monies. That’s why I said, you have to know people. And if you just listen, if you know who you’re dealing with and what they’re common problems and concerns are certain, certain types of people, certain business owners, right? You know, if you get the grocery store guy, you know, he’s, he’s probably going to get in trouble for certain things and you could help them in areas, whether it’s an administrative proceeding, that’s not necessarily criminal per se, but it’s not a terribly complicated collateral subject area. It may be quasi criminal. And so if you just branch out and you’re willing to explore and help your clients and in the areas that they need, and of course you have to be willing to do the work, the studying to learn a subject area. But if you have an interest and you’re willing to do the work, and, and, and of course you listen to your clients and they express to me, you say, yeah, hey, I could do this. And you have a bar card. You have your own office, you’re a lawyer. You know, you, you say you have malpractice insurance. Yeah, go ahead. Go do it. Go do it at your own risk. And then stay up at night about it, thinking about it as to what could go wrong.

Louis Goodman 20:19

Okay. Thank you, Cyn. I really appreciate your questions.

Stephen Richardson 20:22

Can I ask a real quick follow up question?

Louis Goodman 20:24

Yes. Stephen Richardson with a follow up question, please.

Stephen Richardson 20:27

So when you were saying like you court, you know, the criminal families or whatnot, what do you mean? So just speak, you know, and not understanding. So, you know, let’s say it’s a criminal matter. How would I know about you or what do you mean like court?

Nabiel Ahmed 20:46

Your AT&T phone guy who comes to your office and installs your phone line, when you put your sign on the door that you’re a criminal lawyer, you say, the guy may, may say, Hey, what do you do? You know what’s going on here? You’re like, oh yeah, I just opened up my office. Iā€™m gonna be a criminal lawyer.

And they, they might look at you, you know, depending on who and what you are, you can tell ’em what you do. And of course you say, do you have anybody, anybody that needs me, you know, take my business card, please call me. And when I started, I started in downtown Oakland and at the time when I started in downtown Oakland, it was corner 13th and Franklin.

And fortunately I was still smoking cigarettes at the time. So you could find me on the street, any street corner, the main street corner with a pack of cigarettes and a business, you know, a bunch of business cards in my hand. And a lot of people would come up to me. Cause I was dressed in a suit and asked me for a dollar or something.

And they asked me for something. I wound up giving them a cigarette and a business card, a business card and a cigarette. So I told, I told my corporate that there’s a whole ton. Well, I was old school word of mouth. Okay. I, yeah, I’m not recommending that to anybody. And that’s why when I have, you know, people searching, trying to be interns and work for me or tell you there’s no positions here because we can’t teach. You can’t teach that, you know, you can’t, you can’t put that on to anybody else. You can’t encourage that to somebody else to do that, to make it succeed. If that’s necessary. So, right.

Stephen Richardson 22:26

Thank you.

Louis Goodman 22:27

And these young people these days, they’re not smoking anymore.

Nabiel Ahmed 22:31

Yeah, I know. I mean, so you have to have a different angle. I can’t help you with that right now.

Louis Goodman 22:40

Well, Nabiel, you’ve certainly always had a different angle on things. That’s why I always enjoy talking to you. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Nabiel Ahmed 22:52

Visit my website at

Louis Goodman 22:59

That’s www.EastBayLawPractice, all one word, dot com. Is that correct?

Nabiel Ahmed 23:07


Louis Goodman 23:08

All right. Good. And I also assume that if we just Google Nabiel Ahmed attorney, that we will be able to find you there as well. Is that correct?

Nabiel Ahmed 23:18

Yes. And I get my Google search history and no matter how you spell it, I will come up. So go ahead, everybody. Nabil Ahmed in Google. I’ll find it. You’ll find me.

Louis Goodman 23:28

Nabiel. Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about? Anything that we haven’t discussed that you’d like to touch on?

Nabiel Ahmed 23:35

No, I think I shared too much already, Louis, but thank you, for hearing it and bearing with me on it.

Louis Goodman 23:43

Nabil Ahmed, on behalf of the Alameda County Bar Association, the people who have joined us on this call and myself, thank you so much 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.

Nabiel Ahmed 24:03

Thank you, sir. Take care.

Louis Goodman 24:06

That’s it for today’s edition of Love Thy Lawyer in collaboration with the Alameda County Bar Association. Please visit the website where you can find links to all of our episodes. Also, please visit the Alameda County Bar Association Website at, where you can find more information about our support of the legal profession, promoting excellence in the legal profession and facilitating equal access to justice.Thanks to Joel Katz for music, Bryan Matheson for technical support, Paul Robert for social media and Tracy Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.

Nabiel Ahmed 24:59

I might’ve forgot your question, Lou, but I hope I answered it.

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