Hitasha Mowry / Louis Goodman – Podcast Transcript
[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. She speaks several languages. She and her husband, Sean are the founding partners of the Mowry Law Group.
She has honed her skills as a courtroom advocate through her representation of hundreds of individuals charged with everything from traffic violation to serious felony offenses. She has a deep commitment to justice and serving the underserved. She feels a special connection to the Bay Area Immigrant Community, and indeed is a part of that community.
She is also a mother [00:01:00] raising a family, Hitasha Mowry. Welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.
Hitasha Mowry: Thank you, Louis. It’s an honor to be here.
Louis Goodman: Well, I’m very happy to have you. I’ve always admired your work. When I’ve seen you in court, you always seem very well-prepared and you seem very comfortable in court. Where’s your office?
Hitasha Mowry: So I have two offices, one in San Jose, and one in Dublin.
Louis Goodman: And you practice with your husband?
Hitasha Mowry: I do. Yes. It’s a lot of fun. It’s nice to have someone that you can trust and rely on to bounce ideas off of. And just to have someone that you know very well and who completely understands all your idiosyncrasies.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. It’s nice. Where are you from originally?
Hitasha Mowry: I’m from New Delhi, India.
Louis Goodman: Really. And when did you come to the United States?
Hitasha Mowry: My parents and my brother and I moved to the U S in 1992, when I was about seven, eight years old.
Louis Goodman: Do you have much recollection of India?
Hitasha Mowry: You know, I have some recollection of India. I still [00:02:00] have significant amount of family that I haven’t been to India since 2003.
However, so it’s been a while, but I do remember a lot of it. And a lot of my memories were formed later in life. When I went back to visit.
Louis Goodman: What do you think about it when you go back?
Hitasha Mowry: I think it’s beautiful, but I also think it would be somewhere that I could not live at this point in my life. It’s hard to see the poverty on the streets around you.
It’s hard to see how much struggle there is. And it’s hard to give up everything that you’ve gotten used to here.
Louis Goodman: Where did you originally live when you first came to the United States? After coming from India?
Hitasha Mowry: So we lived in Pleasanton for approximately, I want to say about six months to a year.
We lived in Pleasanton shortly thereafter. My parents bought a small house in Fremont and we’ve lived in Fremont ever since. So I would say often people ask me, where were you born? Where were you raised? I would say I was raised in Fremont.
Louis Goodman: Is that where you went to High School.
Hitasha Mowry: I [00:03:00] did. I went to high school at Mission San Jose, which was quite an experience, but it helped me build a lot of the building blocks that I needed for later on in life.
Louis Goodman: When you say quite an experience, in what way?
Hitasha Mowry: Very competitive High School. Everyone is very hyper-focused on grades and SATs and AP exams. So it requires a lot from you. But after a high school, I graduated, I went to UC Irvine and I remember going to UC Irvine during my first, first year there. And then coming back and actually thanking some of my professors or my teachers rather at Mission for everything that they had pushed us all to get through and to learn because it was amazing.
Louis Goodman: You felt so much more preps for high school. Excuse me, for college at that point, I guess, is that you really thrived in a competitive Scholastic environment.
Hitasha Mowry: Fine, but it was also difficult. It was difficult because coming from an immigrant background, your [00:04:00] parents just wanted you to focus on your studies.
There were no extracurricular activities. My parents had schoolwork that they wanted us to do every summer. So I did. I did well at Mission, but at the same time it was difficult. It was extremely difficult. And from what I understand, it is still difficult. It’s just hyper-competitive.
Louis Goodman: You did well in the academics?
Hitasha Mowry: I did all right.
Louis Goodman: Okay. So you graduated from high school and where did you go to college?
Hitasha Mowry: UC Irvine.
Louis Goodman: How was that experience?
Hitasha Mowry: A lot of fun. I lived on campus for the most part. Irvine is very much a bubble in that you live on campus, you stay on campus, but then everyone goes outside of campus to party, but then you have your own safe spot within the bubble to come back to.
I loved Irvine. I loved where it was positioned, but I soon realized that I would never be able to actually live, you know, have a career or a house in Irvine or an Orange County, because I [00:05:00] wanted to be back home in the Bay Area.
Louis Goodman: I see. And when you got out of college, did you immediately go to Law School or did you do something different?
Hitasha Mowry: No. So for a year I worked as a Legal Assistant at Sidley Austin LLP in the city. It is a huge firm.
Louis Goodman: Yes. How many attorneys do they have there?
Hitasha Mowry: I honestly would not even be able to tell you the answer to that question. It’s massive. They had two floors in the Bank of America Building. It was gorgeous, and I know that they have multiple locations throughout the country.
Louis Goodman: Well, what did you think of working in that kind of thing?
Hitasha Mowry: It was a really good experience. I really enjoy working there. I did, I assisted with contracts and IPO’s and that kind of stuff, but I felt like it was more than a nine to five, some of the partners and some of the associates that worked all the time they just worked constantly.
There were often times where I wouldn’t get home until nine o’clock at night because there was a closing or something else was happening and I was required to stay [00:06:00] that late. So I enjoyed working there. I enjoyed the parks as Sidley, Austin and large firms, but I did not like the hours and I did not like the additional requirements that came up for you?
Louis Goodman: Yeah. Nevertheless, you decided to go to law school.
Hitasha Mowry: I did. I was definitely engaged in it. I, especially after working there, I realized that I wanted to be in the legal world. I didn’t know at that time I wanted to do Intellectual Property Law. I wanted to go down that path.
So I took a lot of classes at Golden Gate University during law school that had to do with IP Law, and it seemed intriguing to me, but I did want to definitely be a lawyer.
Louis Goodman: When did you first start thinking, I really want to be a lawyer. I want to go to law school.
Hitasha Mowry: It actually goes back to my days at UCI.
I took some Poly Psy Class and one of the topics that we had to write about was the Needle Exchange Program. For whatever reason, I was thoroughly engaged in that class. And I was very interested in the Needle Exchange Program and what the benefits of [00:07:00] that such a program could be to those living on the streets.
And that was my first thought process. My first time that I was actually engaged and wanted to be a Lawyer, but it took a while to actually realize that that is where I really wanted to be.
Louis Goodman: What did your friends and your family think and say, when you told them that you wanted to be a lawyer?
Hitasha Mowry: It was an interesting conversation.
A lot of them thought I was crazy in high school and throughout college, you know, everybody wanted me to be an Engineer. I was born in India. We live in Silicon Valley. I’m Indian and Engineers, you become an Engineer. I never wanted to be a Doctor. This is not something I could do. So it was always Hitasha is going to be an engineer.
So when I suggested lawyer, everyone thought I was crazy.
Louis Goodman: So where did you go to law school?
Hitasha Mowry: At Golden Gate University in the City.
Louis Goodman: And was there some reason you decided to go there?
Hitasha Mowry: It was just one of the schools I got into. It was a commuter [00:08:00] school, which was nice. Cause as I’ve grown up in Fremont, my parents still live in Fremont, so it was nice to be able to stay with them, commute into the city as necessary, and then be able to come back, save money in that plant.
What did you think of the Golden Gate experience?
Hitasha Mowry: I enjoyed it. I was not one to linger around the campus too long. I always just caught the next Bart train home. I thought it did a good job of prepping me for the bar. And there was a lot of bar prep within the classes and within the system. So I enjoy Golden Gate.
Easy access to teachers and professors and materials. So I enjoyed Golden Gate.
Louis Goodman: After you got out of Golden Gate, what was your first legal job?
Hitasha Mowry: So after getting out of Golden Gate, it was immediately study for the Bar. So my husband, Sean and I, we spent the entire summer just prepping in our parents respective living rooms and kitchens and dining rooms, just studying for the Bar.
We both sat next to each other, took the Bar together. We passed the Bar together and then it was out into the open world, trying to figure out what we were going to do. [00:09:00] The market was awful at that point, no one was really hiring. So I applied for a random position as a Legal Secretary, because I wasn’t able to find a job at a Criminal Defense Firm out of Fairfield.
So I met with the partner in the Firm and he looked at me and said, you’re applying for a Legal Secretary position. And I was like, well, that’s all you’re offering at this point. I need a job. So he really boosted me. So that boosted me into a first-year Associate position. I started appearing in court.
It was a Criminal Defense firm. At that point, I hadn’t really thought about Criminal Defense that much, but the moment I started appearing in court and actually working at cases, they was at that point where I realized I’m going to be a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Louis Goodman: What was it about the Criminal Defense that you found attractive?
Hitasha Mowry: Being able to help people that are looking for Criminal Defense Lawyers are often at the worst points in their lives. They’re lost, they’re confused. They have no idea how they’re going to proceed or even move forward in their [00:10:00] lives and to be able to just have a conversation with them and tell them it’s going to be okay.
And I can help you get through this. It’s very rewarding.
Louis Goodman: Is that what you really like about practicing law?
Hitasha Mowry: Yes, it is. It’s probably the best part of what we do. I really enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.
Louis Goodman: If a young person was coming out of a place like UC Irvine and thinking about some kind of a career choice, would you recommend that to someone.
Hitasha Mowry: I do and I’ve spoken to them young people in the last few years, who’ve come out and thought about law school and I tell them, yes, go to law school, figure out, you know, a way to help people because that’s what we’re meant to do. We are meant to help people, but be prepared for the fact that it’s going to be very difficult.
Law school is not easy and it’s challenging at times. So you’re going to do it be prepared and be dedicated and ready to take on the challenge. But yes, absolutely. If you’re thinking about law school, you should do law school, go through the different classes, take, you know, a variety of classes to figure out [00:11:00] If there is something specific you’re interested in.
Louis Goodman: What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting a career in law?
Hitasha Mowry: Tell the young people we’re just starting out is listen to everyone around you, because everyone around you has something to tell you, take criticism from other attorneys, especially if they turn to you and say, you know, you could have done that better by adding this one sentence, because they’re not only critiquing you, but they’re trying to help you be a better attorney. And I learned a lot when someone said next time tried this Hitasha. I learned a lot from those people who, at that point, I may have been offended that they would say something like that to me, but I would go back later and think, yeah, you know, I am going to give that a shot.
And then the other thing that’s always helped me is ask questions.
Louis Goodman: How has actually practicing law met or differed from your expectations of it?
Hitasha Mowry: You know, when you start out practicing law or when you’re in law school, you think like, Oh, I’m going to be an attorney. I’m going to go to court. I’m going to argue a position to the judge. And the judge is going to [00:12:00] make a ruling on it. And that’s it. It’s over. Then one rarely tells you about the human aspect of these things. No one tells you that there’s an actual person involved in all of this. There’s someone whose lives depend on this or whose future depends or whose career depends on it. There are feelings and emotions and backstories involved. And you’re only taught the law and the research and the arguments.
Louis Goodman: What about the business of practicing law? How’s that gone for you? And how’s that met or different from your expectations?
Hitasha Mowry: The business of practicing law is not what you would expect it to be.
Whatever, you know, I retained a new client. I tell them, look, I you’re hiring me to be your attorney, I am not a bill collector. So please just make your payments on time. And that’s something that you don’t realize that you actually turn into is at some point you have a business and you’re not just an attorney.
You have a business to run, you have your own financial issues to deal with and you can’t just constantly just focus on the law portion of it. You have to focus on the business aspect of it. And that’s [00:13:00] hard. It’s really hard. And it’s not something you were taught at all. And the small business world is complicated and that’s something you have to learn as you go.
Louis Goodman: Do you think that it would be a good thing for law schools to have some discussion about the business aspect of.
Hitasha Mowry: Absolutely. I think it would be extremely beneficial to have a couple of small business owners with different practices come in and teach a class on, okay, you not only have to be this great advocate for your clients, but you also have to deal to run your books and you have to be able to run this practice and have it financially stable. Yeah. And I think law schools would greatly benefit from arranging some sort of a program.
Louis Goodman: What do you think is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hitasha Mowry: The best advice. And I’ve been thinking about this is never give up, but always remember to take a step back when you walk in your house, because you can be this amazing advocate.
But you also have to have your sanity [00:14:00] and you can’t bring everything home with you because it will impact your personal life.
Louis Goodman: What aspect of practicing law do you think is your strong suit?
Hitasha Mowry: Being able to argue my client’s position and my position in court is probably my strongest suit and being able to represent my client to their fullest.
Tell the judge that what’s written in the police report is not all that my client is about. There’s more, I think being able to verbalize that is my strong suit.
Louis Goodman: Looking back, is there one thing that you think you would like to change if you could?
Hitasha Mowry: So early on I became, I would get nervous about taking on more serious cases and that is something that I wish I could change. Not being so nervous, I think, but at the same time, the being nervous made me realize that I cared more about those serious cases. So perhaps it’s something I don’t want to change, but yes, being nervous about trying something different or try something that has more serious consequences is something I wish I could [00:15:00] change to some extent.
Louis Goodman: I think that the legal system works. Do you think it’s fair?
Hitasha Mowry: It has the ability to work, but it often does not. So I would not say that it’s fair, but I think with some changes that happened system-wide I think we could make it more fair.
Louis Goodman: What would you change, would try to offer more services to those that have mental health issues?
Hitasha Mowry: I think there’s a significant amount of individuals who end up in the legal system that has mental health issues and their crimes are directly related to the mental health issues. So I would try to offer more services, more supervision, and not necessarily in a manner in which they are imprisoned or they are, you know, otherwise restrained.
I would try to offer more mental health services within their communities. The other thing I would try to change is that oftentimes the prosecution and the bench get hung up on the moment. This issue occurred or this alleged crime occurred and they’re unwilling to take the person, [00:16:00] the person that is before them into account.
So if there’s any way I could essentially work harder to get them to listen more as what led up to this incident occurring.
Louis Goodman: And when you are in a kind of unique situation in that your law partner is also your husband. I’m wondering how that’s affected your family life and how practicing law has affected your family life and how your family life has affected you?
Hitasha Mowry: So we have two children and we have a dog.
So Sean and I have kind of made it a practice in our house to turn off that part of our brain when we pick up our kids.
Louis Goodman: And how old are your kids?
Hitasha Mowry: Seven and Alma six. Okay. So we try to focus on our children when we’re home and they are here as opposed to talking about work. And on the weekends, we dedicate it to them.
We don’t work on the weekends. We tend to work when they are asleep. And Sean and I have kind of always had [00:17:00] this practice of it’s okay if we’re, you know, nine to five, if we’re working, we’re working. And then when we pick up the kids, we are just focusing on the kids. And then when the kids go to sleep, often we will pick up, you know, whatever work stuff has to be done, but we try to focus just on our kids when we have them, because they grow so fast and we don’t want to miss out on it.
Louis Goodman: Have you taken any family trips, had any travel experience?
Hitasha Mowry: That’s a sour subject at the moment. So before the pandemic hit, we had plans to go to Italy this past June, and that we had to cancel everything. It was going to be the first international trip with all four of us together.
And it was going to be, you know, a 12 day trip to Rome and Sorento and we had to cancel all of that. So then we thought, okay, 2021, it’s the year we’re going to go. So now it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen either. So hopefully 2022 is when we make that big trip Internationally.
Louis Goodman: What sort of things do you enjoy doing [00:18:00] recreationally?
Hitasha Mowry: Sean and I have been hiking a lot. Oftentimes our weekends are just so caught up with the kids. So whatever the kids want to do before pre pandemic, it was go to the movies, you know, go golfing, something like that. But with the pandemic, it’s been outdoor stuff. So if it’s play in the court or bike riding, we like to do that with them.
Louis GoodmanIf you couldn’t be a lawyer, is there some job that you think you would like to do?
Hitasha Mowry: Honestly, I don’t know. I cannot answer that question. I can tell you what I wouldn’t be is a stay at home mom or a teacher. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught me that I could never be a stay at home mom or a teacher. But other than that, I really can’t say what else I would do.
I would be at a loss.
Louis Goodman: Well, speaking of the pandemic and you tell me if it’s okay to ask you this question, we had to postpone our interview for awhile because you contracted the COVID virus. And I’m wondering if, just sort of share a little bit about that [00:19:00] experience.
Hitasha Mowry: Sure. I don’t mind talking about it at all.
Yes. All four of us ended up with COVID for a little bit around Christmas time. It was kind of amazing how quickly the symptoms went from one person to the next in our family. So Sean came down with it first with my son, and then it was within about 24 to 36 hours that my daughter and I came down with it.
Luckily for us, our symptoms were very mild. It was a lot of fever and chills and body weakness for 24 to 48 hours. And then we all seem to get our energy back, but the kids are, our kids hardly had any symptoms, knock on wood. They. They had fevers, but they didn’t seem as miserable as Sean and I got. I think we, the adults were in bed for 24 hours, if not more where it was just weakness, but when our major sentence decided it was interesting because we didn’t get our full energy back, it was, we started to get energy back, but we would do something and then be exhausted. [00:20:00] It was still napping mid-day, but just the sheer exhaustion was taxing. But thankfully again, thankfully we all had mild symptoms and I have a genuine fear of the elderly getting COVID because it took me down that much.
I can imagine how hard it is for the elderly to fight it.
Louis Goodman: What keeps you up at night?
Hitasha Mowry: I think what keeps me up at night, not being able to help my clients that really need the help, especially those with mental health issues. I’m battling a current case where the woman who’s got severe mental health issues and the offers a prison offer.
And I’m trying to convince the DA and the Judge in this case to give her a treatment instead of prison. Those kind of cases keep me up because I know this person needs help. I know there’s a future for this person, but I can’t, I can only do so much. And those ones get to me.
Louis Goodman: Say you and Sean came into some real money, you know, a few billion dollars.
What, if anything, would you do [00:21:00] differently in your life?
Hitasha Mowry: That would be nice. I think I would still work. I know a lot of people would say they would close that shop. Its just be gone. I would still work. I would probably reduce my workload, but I would still work because I need something to fight for.
And I know people need services that I can offer. The one thing I would change is how much we travel and hopefully the pandemic would be gone by then, but it would be travel more, take the kids out more, but definitely still work
Louis Goodman:. Say there were one thing that you could skywrite. That you could put it up so that everybody could see it.
Hitasha Mowry: It would be SPE a huge banner in the sky.
Louis Goodman: What would you like to tell everybody?
Hitasha Mowry: Don’t give up hope. There’s always hope you could’ve had a really bad day. Your son, your family member, your daughter could be in custody for something they didn’t do, but don’t give up hope and don’t give up. Just don’t give up.
Louis Goodman: Hitasha Mowry, Thank you [00:22:00] very much for joining me today on the Lovely Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Hitasha Mowry: Thank you so much for having me Louis.
Louis Goodman: That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email.
I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at ourwebsite at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts photographs and information. Thanks as always to my guests to share their wisdom and to Joel Katz for Brian Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.
Hitasha Mowry: I’m losing my train of thought. Do you wanna start over? Hi. Yes, please. Go ahead. I can’t say I’ve been thinking about this question and I really can’t say. [00:23:00]