Wallace Doolittle / Louis Goodman Podcast Transcript

Louis Goodman

Hello, and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer where we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers, and what their experience has been. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show. And yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect. He deals with complex civil litigation that includes commercial business and complex family law matters. He has extensive trial and arbitration experience. He is a native Californian. And given that it is perhaps unsurprising that he’s always seen in a great car. While it’s still a little welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.



Wallace Doolittle

Thanks, Louis.How are you doing today,



Louis Goodman

I’m doing well. I’m really happy to have you on. We’ve known each other for a while. I’ve always admired your work, and I’ve always admired your cars. How much? Where’s your laying down these days? Where’s your office located right now?



Wallace Doolittle

1260 B Street, Hayward. Well, I have offices in San Francisco, Orange County, Chicago, and Hayward, California. But the main office with all of our operations, and pretty much all our files is in Hayward, California.



Louis Goodman

And what type of practice do you have?



Wallace Doolittle

You know, it’s, I used to say, it’s just about anything else that nobody else would touch because it’s, you know, usually Byzantine, difficult, complex, convoluted. Maybe another lawyers already kind of driven it into a ditch type of case easily just I would describe it just generally as complex litigation. And that could include Family Law, do a lot of complex family law cases about 30% one practices Family Law, or that could include intellectual property, trade secret, or you know, complex business litigation, anything where there’s a lot to kind of, unpack and sort out.



Louis Goodman

That’s kind of what how long have you been practicing?



Wallace Doolittle

I think it’s 30 years now, it’s hard to believe. But yeah, 30 years.



Louis Goodman

Where are you from originally?



Wallace Doolittle

I was born in LA. I’m a California boy. So I was born and my parents moved to Northern California when I was quite young. And I spent some of my most formative years in the Monterey Peninsula area.



Louis Goodman

Is that where you went to high school?



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, I went to Pacific Grove High School.



Louis Goodman

How was that experience?



Wallace Doolittle

You know, it was okay. For the first couple years, I was very into sports. And I, you know, really enjoyed a lot of success there. But, you know, after a while, the pressure and just the constant training just wore on me, and I ended up kind of, you know, being a little bit disillusioned with it. And so I left high school early to go to college.



Louis Goodman

So how did you work getting out of high school?



Wallace Doolittle

I just took the net wasn’t the GED, there was something else called the proficiency exam at the time. I was just done with high school when I was 17. So I said, Okay, I’m taking this exam. And I went to community college for a while. And then I went to State University.



Louis Goodman

Which one?



Wallace Doolittle

Well, I started out at San Diego State. And it wasn’t that crazy about it. So II packed my bags again, and applied to San Francisco State. And that’s where I graduated.



Louis Goodman

How did you like being in San Francisco.



Wallace Doolittle

San Francisco is an amazing place. And it has been for a long time. And when I moved here in 1981, you know, clearly quite different from what it is today, the population was actually much less at the time, money was not as you know, gigantic. Tech wasn’t really a factor at that point. And it just was an amazing city to get around. And as a college student, and after being in college.



Louis Goodman

You graduated then from San Francisco State, did you immediately go to law school? Or did you do something?



Wallace Doolittle

I just took about a year off, maybe call it a gap year if you want whatever. I graduated in January 1985 for San Francisco State and I didn’t go to law school until August 1986. So I basically worked as a kind of paralegal/file clerk at a law firm in San Francisco. And basically had, you know, kind of had a lot of fun doing that.



Louis Goodman

Is that what prompted you to go to law school?



Wallace Doolittle

You know, there are a couple of things that occurred that kind of convinced me that as my calling. The first one was my sister when I was about 10 years old, when I was arguing with my little brother in a way that she thought was very lawyerly. He just said, lawless is my oldest sister, she’s 14, and I was 10. Said, Wallace, you are going to have to be a lawyer, and that stuck in my head. And then when I was at San Diego State, I befriended a guy that was in the same apartment complex as I was. And he and I spent a lot of time together, you know, doing writing and comparing our poetry and writing and just talking about philosophy and politics and everything else. And he at one point just said, look, you better go to law school, it just seems like the perfect place for you.



Louis Goodman

Where did you go to law school?



Wallace Doolittle

I went to DePaul in Chicago. I ended up in Chicago because working as a paralegal on this all comes back. Remember, we’re decades back here. And now I’m starting to remember, I was working as a legal assistant at Cirrus Mortgage Securities Corporation in the legal department. And so I just applied to all the law schools in the Chicago area. And I got into a number of them, but I chose to DePaul as the best one that I got into. And as it turns out, that was a very good school.



Louis Goodman

Well, what did you think about being in law school?



Wallace Doolittle

Well, being kind of a cynical type, I didn’t really, you know, appreciate the, like the Socratic teaching method, and all of the typical things that we used to read about in one hour, I guess, what it was called, or the Paper Chase. I just wasn’t into that very much. So you know, I maintain a healthy skepticism of the whole process.



Louis Goodman

When you graduated from law school, what bar did you decide to take?



Wallace Doolittle

I took the Illinois Bar and the California Bar and a member and both.



Louis Goodman

Did you take them with, you know, essentially the same time?



Wallace Doolittle

No, I took the Illinois Bar. Well, here, we’re going back to you can kind of get into this a little bit more after I graduated from law school. I kind of still at the time wanted to before I jumped into being a lawyer and the tremendous responsibilities being a lawyer, I split, took a couple of years off, and basically played music in a band and played sometimes open mic, you know, blues jams and stuff in Chicago. And I really, at that point, thought, you know, I’m not going to waste this last, these last moments of my youth slaving in a law firm. So I took a couple more years off and did that. But in 91, or 92, I took the Illinois and then the California Bars. And, you know, kind of the switch was flipped. And I got, you know, 1,000% into my law career.



Louis Goodman

Well, before we get into your law career, being in Chicago and playing the blues. I mean, that’s just classic, isn’t it?



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, it was fun. It’s really fun. I mean, there’s lots of places where you can just have an open stage. And I had another friend there who was a guitar player, and we would grab our guitars and go down there. And one at a time, we thought that the band would play, you know, a typical, like blues, blues progression, and we would play blues solos. It was fun. It was a lot of fun.



Louis Goodman

So at some point, you decided, Okay, I’m gonna take the bar exams, and I’m gonna start practicing law. So what was your first legal job?



Wallace Doolittle

Well, I didn’t I work. Before I passed the Bar in California. I did work as a legal assistant at Richard Idelle Law Corporation. And I had worked for Richard before I’d known him since 1983. I’d worked at it as a file clerk, and a gopher, when I was in college, in his firm, and for other firms that shared space with him at 611 Front Street, up above the what was at that time, the MacArthur Park restaurant. And so I knew Richard and when I came back from Chicago, Richard hired me immediately, as a legal assistant, he hired me as an associate. And I worked for him for several years. And then I went out on my own. So I worked for Richard gal. And he, you know, became a mentor of mine and taught me a tremendous amount about litigation trials, trial techniques.



Louis Goodman

What do you really like about practicing law, you’ve been doing it for quite a while now.



Wallace Doolittle

I kind of had to think about that before coming on podcast, because there’s a lot to be said about it. I mean, I’ve done every kind of work that you could possibly imagine. And I always say to myself, whenever I’m having a bad day, in this business, that it beats digging ditches, while I literally dug ditches, okay, I worked in construction, I worked doing manual labor. I’ve worked in the late shift washing dishes at the Doubletree when I was 17. I’ve done a lot of stuff that’s not as fun as practicing law. Practicing law is great when, you know, you’re kind of in harmony with opposing counsel, and judges and clients, and everyone understands that we’re here to find a resolution to a problem that it has to be resolved in a civilized way. And then there’s a result that maybe not makes everybody happy, but at least, you know, at least achieve some sort of justice. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But that’s when I know that the practice of law is something that I really appreciate and that’s when I’m helping people. And I see people who are actually helped out of a jam. It’s not always the case, though, in this business, you know, sometimes things get kind of warlike don’t like war like but you always have to think of one is this kind of mill you that are made I’m not here in a lawsuit or a divorce, representing a party, because, you know, that party was completely functional. Okay?



Louis Goodman

Right, right



Wallace Doolittle

They are dysfunctional by definition, and they come to us after the dysfunction reaches a chaotic level. And therefore, we get a very bad sample of a segment of the society, when we represent people and little guys to make, it tends to make us somewhat jaundiced. But you know, the people do really need help the problem with the practice, your average person in the United States cannot really afford proper representation. And so a lot of litigation that goes on, is really just litigation among people who have the money to afford lawyers. And if you don’t have the money to afford lawyers, sometimes you’re lost. And it’s a very tough system for your average person.



Louis Goodman

Would you recommend the law to a young person just thinking about, you know, coming out of college and thinking about a career?



Wallace Doolittle

I kind of reflect on that with people that I know, and my ex wives and partners and talking about where do I want my child to end up and, you know, I’m kind of on the fence about that. I don’t want my kids to have to go through incredibly difficult work and kind of desperate times trying to find my place in, you know, in the economy, ultimately ended up being a lawyer. But, you know, at the same time that maybe was character building, maybe it would be character building for them. It’s an extremely stressful job, where, oftentimes, lawyer, and I’ve heard this from a lot of people, but and I’ve experienced it firsthand, you don’t sleep well, you’re in the middle of a jury trial, there’s a lot at stake, maybe billions of dollars at stake, or in the criminal defense context, which I don’t do. But criminal defense context could be looking at a lot of time, or, you know, a divorce, or somebody might be ending up losing, you know, a significant amount of very quality time with their children, because their partner or ex partner or ex wife, is planning to move away to a place that’s very remote. When you have to deal with these heavy duty things, sometimes you don’t sleep at night, and the stress can really get to you. And so that side of it is very difficult. On the other hand, I think that, you know, some people look at lawyers as kind of, kin to, you know, like a chimney sweep or something like just cleaning up their messes. But I think that there’s still a lot of kind of societal recognition of what it takes to be a lawyer. And there’s a certain amount of I wouldn’t want to say prestige, but kind of, you know, reputation that precedes you as a lawyer, that is, I think, very positive. So there are many different sides to that question. I’m not quite sure exactly whether I would recommend it or not. And I think if I did, I would do it with plenty of caveats.



Louis Goodman

How has actually practicing met or differed from your expectations.



Wallace Doolittle

I just thought to myself, I noticed this, I always try to tell people only partly in jest, that there, I don’t really have any other skills. So it was pretty much inevitable that I was going to go into this into this profession. And, you know, therefore, my expectation level wasn’t really there.



Louis Goodman

You kind of touched on this a little earlier. But what about the business of practicing law? What about the way that aspect of the practice has gone for you?



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, so that can actually be difficult. I don’t find it difficult now. But it took me a long time to really learn how to do it most efficiently, within my skill set within the structure of, you know, kind of where my sweet spot is. It’s difficult sometimes when you have a practice that’s as active as mine, but I think I’ve leveraged it properly with the right style and the right systems that suit my capabilities.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot to the business of practicing law. I think that at least for myself, you know, it’s been an evolving situation. I can’t say that I do everything the way I always did it, I’m sure that I will change the things that I do now, as we move into the future. And as you say, there’s just been this enormous change in technology since you and I began practicing. And I think that any firm that doesn’t evolve with some of that technology is going to be left behind.





Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, I mean, email did not exist when you and I started practicing, right? The fax machine was the main way that we tried to leverage technology, which seems kind of ridiculous now.



Louis Goodman

What do you think’s the best advice you’ve ever received?



Wallace Doolittle

Oh, gosh, I never really listened to advice very well. I think that when Richard and I were practicing together and in the kind of mid 90s, and I was going to court with him a lot, and, you know, he got me into try my first case in 94. And, I took off from there, basically, everything he told me in those days, and I can’t think of one piece of advice, that really, those experiences are invaluable if you don’t work with someone closely, who has, you know, 15, 20 25, 30 years of experience in this business. And, you know, I think you’re missing out. There’s just so many little details along the way that you can only learn side by side with somebody with that kind of experience. And I think that I probably got 100,000 pieces of advice from Richard. And that ended up being a tremendously beneficial to my career.



Louis Goodman

What advice would you give to a young lawyer just starting out?



Wallace Doolittle

Well, work hard, don’t worry too much about where you are right now, learn all of your skills, learn all of your tools, find somebody who has been doing this for a while, and watch what they do and do what they do. If they’re successful. You’re gonna learn from them, and you’re going to end up going somewhere yourself. I think that’s good advice.



Louis Goodman

Do you think that the legal system is fair?



Wallace Doolittle

Absolutely not. I think it’s terribly unfair. I think that it’s very money driven. I think that there are people with the ability to hire lawyers who really can just squash other people. And I think that some people are suffering some true injustices in our legal system at the criminal level. I think it’s a travesty. What you know, and I don’t want to get into the whole politics of, you know, incarceration and people get pulled in on warrants, and they get stuck in an endless carousel of a system. I mean, I don’t want to get into the political side of that. But that’s a terribly unfair aspect. I think in civil litigation, only big money players can play. And it’s kind of a game of elites. Do you see judges who make a huge effort to, you know, try to ensure fairness in their courtrooms?



Louis Goodman

What sort of things do you do to try and keep your sanity as a practicing lawyer in terms of recreation?



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, I mean, I’m trying to make sure that I get out and ride my bike as much as possible, try to get some endorphins going. Otherwise, the anxiety kicks over. I also play music, I play and record music. And sitting right now, talking to you from my recording studio here. In my house, my wife is screaming talented singer. And so we’re working on several recordings right now. And that’s really gets you out completely out of the headspace of being a lawyer.



Louis Goodman

Have you had any travel experience?



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, I’ve been to 26 countries. That’s one of the things that I would say that being a lawyer has allowed me to do is the freedom to, you know, the ability to afford that kind of travel. And so I’ve been to a lot of places I can’t say I’ve been all over the world. But I’ve been everywhere that I could think of that I wanted to go in the Northern Hemisphere. And now I have to start working on the Southern Hemisphere.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say you came into some real money, a few billion dollars. What if anything, would you change in the way you live your life?



Wallace Doolittle

Oh, my God. $5 billion? That’s funny. Well, first of all, I don’t think you need anything after the first 100 million probably. So I don’t know, I’d have to check in with my wife first, before I decided this, but 5 billion, I probably would give at least four and a half billion away, the rest of the money I would spend on a couple of nice places near the water and media, you know, very nice fishing boat, and a couple of houses, bolts with recording studios. And then I would travel and come back there and record my music and ride my bike and go fishing. And that’s about it.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say you had 60 seconds superbowl commercial. What do you think you would want to say to the world?



Wallace Doolittle

It would definitely be a public service announcement for vaccine. This has been an extremely difficult year and a half for me and my family and for everyone else. What I can think of every time I turn around, I need somebody who has just been terribly impacted by the pandemic. I have a child who’s going into fifth grade, she’s basically been, she said to playdates and a year and a half ago she actually was in person with that with her friends. And so I can’t get unstuck from the pandemic.







Louis Goodman

Thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a while talk to you.



Wallace Doolittle

Yeah, Louis, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about these issues. And the one good thing about it is it really made me think more about some of it.



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 our website 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 music, Brian Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis.





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