This is the second full week in my venture as a solo/small firm lawyer. I use those two labels together because some will see this firm as a solo venture, and others will see it as a joint venture. Whatever you call it, it is an adventure.
Hernandez Law Firm, LLC has one full time attorney (thats me) and one part time or Of Counsel attorney, Jennifer Hernandez. This does not mean that she is partially here, what it means technically is that she is a part time advisor of sorts. She takes cases and works out of this office, but this is not her only job. Speaking for her, she might say that this job is the least cumbersome and least stressful of her jobs. Her focus in the office is environmental law, bankruptcy, and family law.
Ms. Hernandez graduated from Vermont Law School, with two degrees related to environmental law. Her first was a Master of Studies in Environmental Law, the second a J.D. (law degree). Vermont Law School has consistently been rated as the #1 (and on occasion, the second ranked) law school for environmental law. See http://www.vermontlaw.edu/News_and_Events/News_Releases/Vermont_Law_School_Ranked_First_in_Environmental_Law_For_Third_Consecutive_Year.htm This notoriety does not go unnoticed, and even this week the school released a second annual watch list of the top 10 environmental issues for the upcoming year. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/on-our-radar-an-environmental-watch-list/. This list was picked up by many of the major news agencies and reported nationwide.
Ms. Hernandez also during her time in Vermont clerked for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Vermont, where she gained valuable experience in a subject that requires experience, knowledge and commitment. This experience is a valuable addition to our law practice, and the office and our clients are better because of it.
I want to touch on one other aspect of the legal practice today, Criminal Law. I have found that this subject is not one that a lot of people want to acknowledge. You tell people that one focus of the practice is criminal law, and people immediately look away and also say things like “I don’t need that” or “I would never need an attorney for that”. But the truth is that criminal defense attorneys are a needed niche in the legal community, not just for some, or for “those kinds of people”, but for everyone.
Criminal law encompasses much more that your high notoriety crimes. Hernandez Law Firm, LLC, can tackle issues from sex crimes, forgeries, stealing, burglaries, robberies, drug crimes and assaults; but, we also cover crimes such as passing bad checks, traffic tickets, DWI, driving without a valid license, municipal violations, taking an animal without a tag.
Not all crimes are equal, but all people should be given an equal chance at a defense. A friend of mine today, who is a senior Missouri State Highway Patrol Officer, told me that he has personal feelings about criminals, but as far as the law is concerned, he believes that his views shouldn’t be imposed on the general laws, because one day someone he knows may be facing a jury or a judge, and he would want them to be treated fairly and given equal treatment under the law.