The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) has had the pleasure of counting attorney Bruce Bernstein, Bruce R. Bernstein Law Office, among its longest serving members. A panel attorney since 1991, Bernstein recently settled an LRIS labor relations case involving age discrimination for an employee who was let go from her job after 21 years. Bernstein was able to secure a six-figure settlement for his client. This and other victories have contributed to the success of his practice and the level of expertise he has provided countless LRIS clients over the years.
Bernstein graciously agreed to sit down and share a little about his practice, his thoughts on what makes for a strong case, and his advice for the next generation of legal practitioners.
Emmy Pasternak (EP): How did you decide what area of law in which to practice?
Bruce Bernstein (BB): After graduating from Santa Clara with a J.D./MBA, I worked as a trust administrator for Bank of America for two years. My first attorney job was with a solo practitioner who handled plaintiffs side personal injury cases as well as probate cases. Later I worked at an employment law firm representing clients who had discrimination and wrongful termination claims. All three areas were gratifying and I decided to devote the majority of my practice over the years to them.
EP: How do you decide whether or not to represent a client?
BB: Although I will speak to anyone about their potential case, I am selective about who I choose to represent. I need to really like the client, know that the facts will prevail over arguments about liability, and believe that decent damages are recoverable from the other party. Possibly the biggest issue to feel secure about with a potential case is that it will not be subject to summary judgment.
EP: What recommendations do you have for the next generation of attorneys or for those just starting their own firms?
BB: After practicing on my own for over ten years, my advice to any attorney new or old is keep overhead as low as possible, only take cases in which you truly want to represent the client and have the skills to do so, and use resources like BASF for networking, continuing legal education, conferring with other attorneys, gaining new skills through volunteering, and of course, client referrals through the LRIS. New attorneys should do all they can to promote themselves too so that their name becomes familiar in the legal community. That’s a lot, but it’s doable and the reward is having your own practice!
For information on how to join the Lawyer Referral and Information Service, visit www.sfbar.org/lawyerreferrals/att.aspx. Read more about our program, download panel applications, and view attorney testimonials. You may also contact the LRIS Membership Coordinator, Yvonne Ng, at (415) 782-8951 or firstname.lastname@example.org for direct service. LRIS is a revenue generating program, the proceeds of which help to support the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) of The Bar Association of San Francisco’s charitable programs.