Jared Winter Podcast Transcript
Louis Goodman: Welcome to Love Thy Lawyer where we talk to practicing attorneys about their lives in and out of law. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect.
Jared Winter, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer. Very happy to have you. It’s always been interesting and fun to talk to you.
Jared Winter: Louis. I’m very happy to be here.
Louis Goodman: I have a few questions for you since you’re a lawyer, but before we get to that, I’d like to ask you about your drone flying. Can you tell me what you do when you fly drones?
Jared Winter: Really more of what I did, that hobby is sort of languished over the last couple of years, but yeah.
I tend to find little hobbies that interest me and some of them stick some of them don’t. But for about a year there, I was learning how to build little racing drones. These drones are about the size of a dinner plate. And they zip around real fast. They’re actually pretty difficult to fly. Well, I didn’t have a lot of success and keeping them in the air for much longer than a minute, but the ultimate goal was to attach a video camera to it so that I could see from a drone, like first person perspective, what it was seeing is it flew around in the air.
It was a fun hobby, but it actually got to be pretty expensive cause I kept crashing the thing so much.
Louis Goodman: Well, maybe it’s a good thing. You’re a lawyer.
Where is your office located now?
Jared Winter: So now my office is out in Pleasanton.
Louis Goodman: What kind of practice do you have and who are you with?
Jared Winter: So I’m with the esteemed firm of Bonjour, Thorman, Burns & Dahm.
And I started working here back in April of 2019, and our practice is split basically 50/ 50 between criminal defense and plaintiff side personal injury cases.
Louis Goodman: How long have you been practicing?
Jared Winter: [Since] 2007.
Louis Goodman: Where are you from? Where are you from originally?
Jared Winter: I was born in St. Anthony Idaho. My parents went to a little college in St.
Anthony, Idaho back then. And I was primarily raised in Arizona in the West Valley. So Phoenix area, not Phoenix itself, though. We call it the West Valley. The town that I’m from is called Lichfield Park.
Louis Goodman: What’s the closest city there to Litchfield.
Jared Winter: The closest one would be Phoenix.
Louis Goodman: Is that where you went to high school?
Jared Winter: Yeah, I was going to say a lot of times, I actually just tell people I’m from Phoenix. Cause that’s the one they know, but I went to a small high school.
Louis Goodman: What was the name of it?
Jared Winter: Agua Fria.
Louis Goodman: So, what did you do in high school? You know, like extracurricular activities? I mean, I assume you took, you know, algebra two and that sort of stuff.
Jared Winter: I went to class, I took tests, I did homework, but extracurricular wise, I did swim team. I swam. All four years of high school on the varsity team.
Louis Goodman: After you graduated from Litchfield Park at Agua Fria? You went to Arizona state?
Jared Winter: I did.
Louis Goodman: And what was that experience like?
Jared Winter: You know, Arizona state. I love that school, actually. A lot of fun memories of it. I didn’t actually have the typical undergraduate experience in the sense that I lived at home, I was a commuter student, even though Arizona state has the reputation for being a massive party school.
I really was not involved in that part of the lifestyle very much. It was mostly just an academic pursuit, but I loved the campus. I loved the faculty. I had a lot of friends at Arizona state, a lot of fond memories.
Louis Goodman: What did you major in there?
Jared Winter: I started off actually thinking that I wanted to go into medicine.
And so I was a microbiology major. I shifted course about two years into being an undergrad and ultimately graduated with a degree in economics from the business college.
Louis Goodman: Did you immediately go to law school thereafter?
Jared Winter: No, I didn’t.
Louis Goodman: What did you do in the interim
Jared Winter: I was working at a bank doing finance and I didn’t quite know what to do, but I knew that that’s not what I wanted to do.
And so I think between graduation and my application to law school, that was maybe a one or two year interim period where there, I was just working in sort of just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And just by fate, I got a jury summons. And so this was in Arizona. Mind you, but I went to jury duty.
It was my first time being called to jury duty. I was. I think I was maybe 21, 22 years old, and I got selected to be on the jury. Yeah.
Louis Goodman: What kind of case was it?
Jared Winter: It was a civil case. So I won’t bore you with all the facts because it actually was boring to most people on the jury. It was a development company had built a housing development and it was upstream from this big golf course. And by law, they had to build water retention because it rains pretty hard in Arizona during the summer months. And the ground is so hard that flooding becomes something that happens really rapidly just in a matter of minutes. So they they’re required to build these water retention pits and their developments and they didn’t.
And this golf course that was downstream kept flooding and they’d have to shut down and they were losing all of this money. And you’re probably bored with the story already as were most.
Louis Goodman: Falling asleep.
Jared Winter: Exactly. You know, the other jurors were also just bored to tears, but I was riveted really. I loved it.
I loved everything about it. I loved watching. I loved watching the lawyers and comparing their strengths and their weaknesses and their approaches to different witnesses. I loved expert witness testimony, kind of getting a little education about water science. I just thought the whole process was really, really fun to be involved in. I think it lasted about two or three weeks. And by the end of it, I was seriously considering putting in an application to law school and the rest is history.
Louis Goodman: So how long did it take you to put in an application to law school after the jury trial?.
Jared Winter: I had my mind made up by the end of the trial.
Louis Goodman: Where did you end up going to law school
Jared Winter: Cal Western school of law, which is a kind of a smaller private law school in San Diego.
Louis Goodman: I almost went there. I’m very familiar with it.
Jared Winter: Yep. And Diego was a huge part of the draw and deciding to go there. And I’m sure you, as a beachy kind of person, I could see why it would be appealing to you as well.
But yeah, I packed my bags and I went to law school and in San Diego, I really didn’t know a soul when I got there. And overall, you know, I really enjoyed law school. I don’t miss it. I know other lawyers that loved it so much that they wish they could go back to law school.
That’s not me at all, but the academic and intellectual challenge of law school, although stressful, I really found to be kind of invigorating.
Louis Goodman: What did your family and friends think when you said, Hey, I decided I wanted to go to law school, what did people think about that.
Jared Winter: My family was very supportive.
I think the idea of having a lawyer in the family, you know, nobody else has gone to law school in my family. So I was kind of a pioneer on that. I think that was really exciting for them. I remember some of my friends when they, conversation where I really hadn’t revealed that that was what my plan my idea that I had plans to go to law school. And I remember one of my very best friends saying, you know, one thing I could never do is be some douchebag attorney. That’s a job I’ll never,
Louis Goodman: You’re not, well, you’re a good guy attorney because it is a difference.
Jared Winter: Yeah. Well, it really highlights kind of that negative public idea that a lot of people in the public have about lawyers and what we’re like.
Louis Goodman: I know that’s why I’m doing this podcast so that people can listen to it.
They can find out what we’re really like.
Jared Winter: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I love it. I think it’s a great idea.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. When you were in law school, what sort of things interested you in law school?
Jared Winter: So I really went into law school, quite ignorant to what I was getting myself into. And that’s both in terms of what law school itself would be like and what life as a lawyer would be like. Like I said earlier, I didn’t really grow up around other lawyers that I knew very well.
So I didn’t have kind of a firsthand knowledge from somebody about what the day to day life of a lawyer is like.
Louis Goodman: After you graduated from law school, what was your first legal job?
Jared Winter: Well, I should say over the course of my legal education, I didn’t really know what type of area I wanted to practice. I had a lot of different interests, but by the third year, the final year of law school, I had really come to the conclusion that I wanted to practice criminal law.
Louis Goodman: Why was that?
Jared Winter: Well, as far as I could tell, it was the most human area of law that you, when you practice criminal law, ugly criminal defense, you’re representing an individual person and you’re fighting for their constitutional rights and their freedom is at stake. I really liked the idea of representing a human being instead of a corporation.
Louis Goodman: So what was your first job?
Jared Winter: I worked for a firm in San Francisco called Morgan Lewis. I was a contract attorney. They’re a big firm. They do big law type cases. The case that I worked on, ironically, maybe appropriately was actually a white-collar criminal case. It was an antitrust case where criminal charges have been brought against our clients.
I had met a public defender and he was second in command in Kern County. I had met him about two years prior at this point. So way back when I was still in law school and I’d met him for about 15 minutes, I met him on campus.
They came down for a recruiting thing and he was a nice guy and I had a nice conversation with him, but I never really took it that seriously because he was in Kern County and that’s just not where I wanted to be. But things were starting to get a little desperate. And so I fired off an email to him, said, Hey, Tony, you probably don’t remember me. I met you a couple of years ago, but I graduated from law school and I passed the bar and I’m looking for work as a public defender. And my phone started ringing about three minutes after I sent that email.
Louis Goodman: Well, maybe he did remember you.
Jared Winter: He absolutely remembered me. And he said, can you come down for an interview?
Absolutely. So I was down there and I had that job. In about two weeks after sending the email.
Louis Goodman: Wow that’s great. So what sort of work did you do? At the Kern County public defenders?
Jared Winter: You know, for somebody who wanted to go into criminal defense, it was really a perfect place to get started because the District Attorney’s Office there is aggressive.
They do a lot of trials and public defender’s office at the time they did offer training, but there was also sort of a trial by the fire aspect to it. There was kind of a, here’s a stack of cases and I mean, a stack of cases, misdemeanors. Go for it. And there was almost a bit of a sink or swim to it. So I dove right in.
I did very well that first year that I was on the misdemeanor team. I tried a lot of cases. In fact, I don’t think I lasted a full year on misdemeanors. I got moved up to do felonies pretty quickly.
Louis Goodman: So how long did you spend at Kern County?
Jared Winter: Well, that started in 2007 and then as we all know, the economy bottomed out in 2008.
So my plan had been to stay there for a year until I got some felony trials and then I was going to leave and either go out on my own or go to a different public defender’s office. And I ended up staying for four years instead of one. And that most mostly had to do with the fact that the economy was so bad, it just gave me cold feet.
It didn’t seem like it was a smart thing to quit. A good paying job that I was at no risk of losing to just kind of take it, take a big chance, a big risk like that. Right.
Louis Goodman: But ultimately you did take it away.
Jared Winter: I did. And as fate would have it, my hand was almost forced. My wife and I were renting a house in Bakersfield again, because we really did not want to tie ourselves down there.
We wanted to somehow make our way back up to the Bay Area and the man that we were renting the house from lost it. And so we had to move and we just kind of thought if we’re going to have to move now is the time to make the big move, which is to just. Go up and make this happen. We’re going to move to the Bay Area.
I’m going to hang up a shingle and cross my fingers and work really hard and make this happen.
Louis Goodman: So when did you do that?
Jared Winter: That was 2011.
Louis Goodman: And have you been in the Bay area ever since?
Jared Winter: Yeah. I’ve worked up here steadily ever since when I first got up here. I just opened a solo practice. I knew very few people up here. So I was, I was doing a lot of just figuring things out on my own and I remained a solo attorney just all by myself for six years and then some opportunities arose. I had already kind of had some experience with being a solo, so that kind of turned me off to it in some way. And so now I work with a firm. And I strongly prefer that kind of a working environment as to being a solo. Well there’s actually a lot of reasons, but one comes to mind is just the brain trust. So if you work in an office with some really top-notch lawyers, you can easily put your heads together on a regular basis to come up with strategies on cases.
There’s just really no substitute for that.
Louis Goodman: What do you really like about practicing law? I mean, it strikes me that you’re someone who does like practicing law. What do you like?
Jared Winter: I do like practicing law and there’s kind of two things behind that. I like helping people. I know that sounds so generic and kind of cheesy, but yeah.
I do like that aspect of our job. I like helping people who are in dire straits, for whatever reason, even if it’s their own fault that they’re in dire straits. I like finding the humanity in my client and advocating for that. It’s something that’s very gratifying time and time again. That has been a driving force for me in practicing law.
Louis Goodman: The other thing sometimes practicing criminal defense to me, seems like some sort of combination of being a relief pitcher and an emergency room doctor.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. I mean, somebody else has really screwed up and now, okay, here you go. You fix it.
Jared Winter: Yeah. I mean, on the criminal side, our clients kind of fall into two buckets.
We either have people that are truly innocent. They’re just flat out. They’ve been falsely accused and obviously you want to help anybody that’s in that situation. And it’s a pleasure to do so. A lot of our clients fall into the bucket of, I made a big mistake and it’s my job to put that in perspective.
And to the extent possible, just kind of do damage control and make sure that they are treated fairly, that they’re given their constitutional rights, not trampled on. That’s also a big motivating factor and something that I believe in very strongly.
Louis Goodman: If someone were, let’s say, graduating from Arizona state, any other college at this point, and they asked you about whether or not they should go to law school. Would you recommend it as a career choice?
Jared Winter: I would recommend it for almost anybody with a big caveat. I look at the study of law as kind of training your brain to look at the world and issues that you encounter in your life in a different framework. And I find that to be incredibly useful. And I think that that would be useful to anyone, whether they actually ended up being a practicing attorney or not.
Louis Goodman: So having some sense of that legal framework, way of looking at things
Jared Winter: 100%, I find that to be incredibly valuable, even outside my work as a lawyer
Louis Goodman: In reference to the legal system do you think that it’s fair? Do you think that it dispenses justice?
Jared Winter: Oh, wow. That’s a big conversation. Is it fair? Is it just? I think the answer that I would give to both those questions is not a very satisfying answer. The answer would be sometimes, you know, law is a human endeavor and it’s prone to all of the fallacies and problems that we humans have.
Louis Goodman: Have you had any mentors in your career, in the system? Tell me about one or two of those people? Why you felt they were mentors?
Jared Winter: I had one mentor. I’ve had several, but I’ve had one official mentor. A good friend of yours, Michael Thorman.
Louis Goodman: Oh, okay.
Jared Winter: Yeah. When I got appointed on a murder case, you know, I was new to the area.
I was new to the County and really wanted somebody who had been through this type of a battle on a local level who had a lot of experience. And Michael and I did know each other before I asked him to mentor me through the case, but not terribly well. We were co-counsel on some, I think it was a marijuana grow case down in Fremont and we just kind of got to know each other that way.
And then I got this murder case and I just asked Michael, will you help me through this?
Louis Goodman: Anybody else?
Jared Winter: Yeah. So Annie Beles is a prominent local defense attorney and she’s a good close friend of mine. And Annie has also always been more than willing to talk through any kind of case with me and offer her advice.
And I’ve gotten to be very good friends with her over the years. And so, without a doubt, Annie is also one of my mentors.
Louis Goodman: Tell me a little bit about your family life and how practicing law has affected it, if at all
Jared Winter: My wife and I have been married for 15 years. We have two little kids. So we were married quite a while before we actually started having kids.
I have a three-and-a-half-year-old son named Michael and I have a one-year old daughter named Ellie. So I have very little young kids. There’s a lot of challenges with raising kids that age. My wife is extremely supportive of my career, the commitments that I have to that career and the obligations that I have to my clients, I don’t think my kids really understand what I do for a living yet, but that’s good.
Jared Winter: Well, I mean, I think there’ll be one day once they understand it, but you know, right now I think the extent that the understanding is that I put on nice clothes and I leave the house in the morning and then I come home.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. Well, my dad was a lawyer and that was sort of my take on it as well. When I was a kid growing up outside of the law.
And besides drone flying, any other recreational pursuits that you like? I mean, I know you like the outdoors. I know you like to go outside.
Jared Winter: Yeah. So a lot of outdoors, a lot of hiking and the shelter in place during the pandemic has actually made that even more frequent.
Louis Goodman: If there was one thing that you had the power to change in the world, anything in the legal system or otherwise, what do you think that would be?
Jared Winter: Get rid of the Corona virus.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. That would be good for everybody. Wouldn’t it?
Jared Winter: Yeah. That’s an easy one.
Louis Goodman: So Jared, you’ve had a number of different experiences in your legal career, and right now you’re working with a really stellar group of people. I’m wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about that?
Jared Winter: The attorneys that I work with here are a Jules Bon Jour, Megan Burns, Emily Dahm, and Maggie Gahn.
Maggie does some of our misdemeanor cases in the firm and Megan is full time working on our PI cases, the personal injury cases. So for the kind of heavier criminal cases, those really fall on the shoulders of Megan, Emily, Jules, and I. I didn’t know, Maggie and Megan so much, but I knew Jules and Emily.
Before I joined the firm, their reputation, really, it was a big draw for me wanting to join with them. I got to say that I learned something from each one of them on a daily basis. And it’s such a good team of lawyers. It’s really an honor to be a part of. And I really enjoy when we all put our heads together and solve the really serious problems that our clients are facing.
And some of the solutions that we come up together as a team, I just don’t think any one of us would really be able to come up with on our own.
Louis Goodman: What keeps you up at night?
Jared Winter: I’m a worrier Louis. So a lot of things do. And some of them shouldn’t, you know, I worry about my clients because I care about them.
Louis Goodman: Jared Winter, thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast. I really appreciate your insights. It’s been fun and interesting talking to you.
Jared Winter: Well, thank you for inviting me Louis. It was really a pleasure on my end as well, and I hope you keep doing these podcasts because I really enjoyed listening.
Louis Goodman: That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. Many thanks to my guests who have contributed their time and wisdom and make the show possible.
Jared Winter Podcast Transcript