An Interview With Our Newest Judge, Hon. Leonard Marquez

On February 27, 2018, California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced the appointment of 25 California Superior Court Judges, including one in Contra Costa County: Leonard E. Marquez. Judge Marquez was officially sworn in by Presiding Judge Jill Fannin on April 5, 2018, and he began his assignment in Department 34 in the Pittsburg Courthouse. Judge Marquez is now the second new judge in 2018, and like the Hon. Virginia George, Judge Marquez was an extremely active member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. In true CCCBA spirit, Judge Marquez was happy to share some of his background and advice for this edition of my President’s Message:

Wu: Tell us about why you became an attorney.
Hon. Leonard Marquez: In high school I was sure that I wanted to be an engineer, not a lawyer. In fact, as part of my early admission to Princeton, I had been on track to pursue a degree in the university’s engineering program. However, during my senior year in high school, I participated in my school’s Mock Trial program. I was fortunate enough to have an inspiring teacher who coached the team to a win in Contra Costa County’s Mock Trial competition that year and we went on to the state competition. I was also fortunate enough to intern with a local attorney’s office in Pittsburg during my college years which also led me further down the path toward a career in the law.

Wu: What were some challenges you faced as a junior attorney when you started out?
Hon. Leonard Marquez: As much as one learns in law school, the art of practicing law is something only really developed through years of real-world lawyering and, hopefully, mentoring by more senior attorneys. I was fortunate enough to have been given that mentoring at my former law firm, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP.

Wu: You’ve been so involved with the CCCBA (thank you!) – tell us why you dedicated so much time and energy to our organization, and why you think CCCBA membership/involvement is important (or helpful) – if you believe these to be true.
Hon. Leonard Marquez: Being successful, both as a lawyer and as a business person, requires a strong network. More than just having access to MCLE training programs—though that is indeed a great benefit—being a member of a bar association such as CCCBA provides a great platform to grow one’s network. Your fellow practitioners are an invaluable resource and a lawyer practicing in a county ought to strongly consider being a part of the local bar association. Beyond business development, being a member of the local bar association also provides opportunities for lawyers to give back to their local communities through pro bono and similar activities. I would refer folks to my article on CCCBA’s Pro Per Civil Litigation Clinic to learn about just one example of what can be done to touch the lives of people in our community under the auspices of the bar association. See http://cclawyer.cccba.org/2017/10/empowering-civil-litigants-cccbas-pro-per-civil-litigation-clinic/

Wu: If you could time travel back to your law school days, what three tips would you give yourself about having a successful legal career?
Hon. Leonard Marquez:

  1. Find and cultivate a strong relationship with a mentor. During law school that may be a professor or just a more senior student. Once you join a firm or other office, you will want to seek out and develop a mentor relationship with senior attorneys.
  2. Maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. Doing good work and doing it with integrity is ultimately what will allow you to be successful in your legal career.
  3. Do not abandon fun. Every person needs hobbies, personal interests and other non-career outlets for personal fulfillment and stress relief. Mine is building with LEGO® bricks.

Wu: What advice do you have for attorneys who may wish to become a Judge one day?
Hon. Loenard Marquez: Lawyers interested in becoming a judicial officer should get involved in civic and bar related activities as much as possible. Beyond the obvious importance of building a strong c.v., those experiences will allow a candidate to have a diverse background and set of experiences to bring to the table. Being engaged in a broad mix of such activities will also help in another critical area—building a strong network of supporters. It is vital that a candidate build a strong network and cultivate relationships among key constituencies.

Wu: Would you like to share any advice you may have received from other judges or attorneys regarding being a new judge?
Hon. Leonard Marquez: Maintaining your integrity is paramount. Honesty and integrity in the judicial decision-making process is at the core of what judges are charged with doing day in and day out.

Wu: What are some of the other important qualities you believe a judge should possess?
Hon. Leonard Marquez: Aside from the need to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity, a judge should focus on helping the courts fulfill their mission of resolving conflict and dispensing justice while being ever mindful of litigants’ experience in dealing with the courts. I would hope that if, many years down the road, I were asked what I had accomplished as a judge, I could talk about the things that I did on a daily basis in my courtroom to provide real and impactful “customer service” for litigants and lawyers alike.

Wu: Thank you Judge Marquez! Thank you for your years of service with the CCCBA, and congratulations to you!

Leave a comment