For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 80,000-plus attorneys, call them, and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?
Best thing about being a lawyer: Helping people.
Mentors/heroes: Family, the people who have the same drawbacks/obstacles that I face and find a way to perservere. The connection is close enough to see that I can make it as well.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? Why would I want to be anyone other than me? It has taken me 28 years to learn how to be good at being me; I think I may have it down by the time I’m 75. Until then, I need the practice being myself.
Born: November 6, 1981
Family/personal: I am single. My family is from New York/New Jersey. They all currently live in New Jersey, except for me. My mom is a semi-retired school secretary, and my dad is a semi-retired jack of all trades. I am very close to my sister, even though she is fourteen years my senior. I have three nieces, Taylor, Haley, and Lindsey, who keep me young.
Areas of practice: Immigration
Education: Rutgers, 2003; University of Houston Law Center, 2006
Culinary talent: Scrambled eggs - that’s about it.
What kind of car do you drive? Beat-up pickup truck. I have gone through four cars since I was sixteen. All of them eventually died on me because I would drive them into the ground. My dad gave me this truck (used) in 2004 because he thought I ought to have a pickup truck if I were in Texas. I drove the truck down from New Jersey, have used it to move countless times, and have used it to move many friends. At least a few times, the car has held all my worldly possessions. It keeps me grounded to say the least.
Most important career lesson: You have to want what you got. Take advantage of your God-given gifts. Don’t try to be something that you aren’t. I’m not a genius, so I don’t pretend to be. I always look up everything. I don’t pretend to remember every client’s entire life story. I listen, I take notes, and I study the case. I try to learn new things every day. I think the biggest mistake lawyers make is thinking that they are doing learning in law school. Law school taught us “how to learn.” I think I have earned multiple JD’s for the amount of studying I’ve done since entering practice.
Favorite saying/quote: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Secret for staying young: Be happy.
The last movie I saw was: Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D with my two nieces Taylor and Haley.
Favorite food: Anything in Houston.
Favorite restaurant: Again, anything in Houston is fine by me.
Where to be found on a Saturday night: With friends and family.
Talents (besides law): Jeopardy?
My favorite weekend retreats are: New Jersey/New York. My entire family still lives there as well as all my childhood friends who I now consider family. It is my foundation, and sometimes I just need to visit and recharge. I made a promise to my sister when I left for law school in 2003 that I would be home for my nieces' birthdays every year. She tricked me by adding another to the bunch in 2006. So I’m back to New Jersey every February, April, and September for Taylor, Lindsey, and Haley.
If I had more time, I would: spend more time with family, expand our practice to help more people in the greater Houston area and beyond.
The part of my job I do best is: Client service. We give out our personal cell phone numbers so our clients can always reach us.
The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: Do your best, from my Mom and Dad. No matter what ability or talent you may have, no one can fault you for doing your best.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? Providing quality service to clients, listening to clients.
If you weren't an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in? Accountant, teacher, or politician. Every college graduate in my family has become an accountant. My mother and stepfather worked in the school system for my entire life. I spent a lot of time seeing the education system from the school point of view instead of the student. I think I would make an awful teacher, but it wouldn’t be for lack of effort. I was a political science major in college and would have taken a position with a congressman in Washington, D.C., but I wouldn’t have been able to live on the salary.
What's the turning point that made you decide to become an attorney? When I applied for a number of congressional staff positions, the chief of staff told me bluntly, “You are the best person for this job and I want to hire you, but you won’t make any money. If you want to get a good job in this town, you either have an Ivy League degree or a law degree.” I was a month away from graduating Rutgers College, so the only option was law school. When I visited the University of Houston, I felt the opportunity in the air. I still get the same feeling when I arrive in Houston from a business trip; I walk out of the airport, and I’m excited about the possibilities that await me.
When you are not practicing law, what do you like to do? Enjoy life to the fullest. I am still relatively new to Houston and Texas. There is a lot to explore.
Who are the people you admire most, and why? My family, whether it is my co-worker Frank, my sister Laura, my Mom and Dad, or my best friends; I am constantly inspired and motivated by how individuals face and overcome monumental challenges.
What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? There is no reason why attorneys should not take advantage of all that technology has to offer. We use technology to better serve our clients: filing cases online, sending documents instantly overseas, conversing with embassies and consulates around the world, and getting information to people who need it, when and where they need it.
How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? I think the practice will shift to a service oriented industry. We will no longer be able to stand firm with “our way” of doing business when our clients find that they can prosper without us. We need to work with our clients to find the best possible outcome.
Brian Johnson works at Guerra & Johnson, P.C.
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