Meet Oliver Greenwood, CCCBA Board President
As the 85th President of the CCCBA, Oliver Greenwood has some very big shoes to fill. For most people, it might be difficult to stand out among this distinguished list of pillars of the legal community, but Oliver Greenwood has found his own distinct way to be memorable in his practice of law.
Greenwood was born at Travis Air Force Base. After high school, he signed up for the infantry at age 18 and joined the Marines. Between 1991 and 1995, he was a machine gunner serving in Somalia. After the service, he returned to the Bay Area and enrolled in Diablo Valley College.
He was going to school and working as a waiter when he purchased a book, Mark Wilson’s Complete Guide to Magic. It was not too long after that he met Rick Allen who was working as a magician. Greenwood took to magic quickly and mastered card tricks and slight of hand. Allen needed someone to help him set up for his shows and to carry his gear. Greenwood helped Allen set up for shows all over the Bay Area. As Greenwood watched and learned, Allen mentored him and eventually gave him the opportunity to do magic as part of the show. Before long Allen started booking Greenwood for shows of his own. He went by his first and middle names, Oliver Alexander, because he would be listed first in the Yellow Pages. Greenwood was busy with gigs of his own at public and corporate events, birthday parties and shows for up to 1000 people for big name clients like Harley Davidson and at impressive venues like the Olympic Club. It turned out to be a great way to finance his college education.
By then Greenwood was attending UC Berkeley as a History major. One of his friends, attorney Robert Kosloff encouraged him to go into law. He was also inspired witnessing his father Stephen Greenwood attending law school later in in life. Greenwood had planned to pursue a PhD in history, but job prospects were slim. He decided to look into a law career and started work as a paralegal in Guardianship, Probate and Estate Planning. He thought to himself, “This is different than I thought!” So he took his friend’s advice and enrolled in law school at Golden Gate University. Once he passed the bar he started working for Robert Kosloff and after a couple of years the two became law partners at Kosloff and Greenwood. They worked together for seven years before Kosloff retired. After that, he partnered up with Oliver Bray for a few years (Bray & Greenwood) and now works on his own, at the Law Offices of Oliver Greenwood.
He’s still doing magic. You may see him in the hallway of the courthouse, always ready to do a 15-minute show most everywhere he goes.
He started incorporating magic into the practice of law when he took his first court-appointed cases, representing minors in guardianship cases. There were often home visits ordered by Commissioner Don Green or Judge Sugiyama. “When I arrive at their house wearing a suit and looking out of place, first I try to break the ice and often end up watching tv or playing video games with the kids,” he said. “My goal is to make sure they are comfortable and can relate to me. As I listen to their heartbreaking stories, I am assessing their situation. I take off my lawyer hat, take off my life hat, and try to assess the family to see if there is love in the home. Kids will tell you the truth, once they trust you,” he said. “I usually end the visits by showing them some magic tricks. Magic makes me memorable,” he added.
Greenwood has been a member of the CCCBA since 2005. Initially he joined the Criminal Conflicts Panel and then joined to CCP Committee. When he saw that there were openings on the CCCBA Board of Directors four years ago, he “decided to throw my hat into the ring,” he said. “Besides, when Oliver Bray rotated off the board, he told me there was an unwritten rule that there should always be an Oliver on the CCCBA Board,” he quipped.
“There is always a need for leadership,” he added seriously. “I am always interested in helping out and stepping forward.”
Goals as CCCBA President
“I want to do a lot for the health of the CCCBA membership,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot to incorporate health, wellness and meditation into your workday and its simple enough to share with the members.”
Wellness is important to him. Greenwood gets out most every morning and walks his dog for approximately two miles. The oxygen helps to clear the head, he said.
“There is always a need for balance in the practice of law. It can be overwhelming. There is so much pressure that goes with the practice of law. We tend to minimize it, but people can burn out,” he said.
He would like to organize a hiking group for the CCCBA. On January 25, Greenwood will walk with the Solo and Small Firm section around the Lafayette Reservoir. It’s part of the section’s new Wellness Initiative.
His goals also include the health of the CCCBA itself. “This year the state bar is raising dues, I want to make sure CCCBA members get value from their membership,” he said.
Oliver Greenwood is married and lives in Pleasant Hill with his wife Ann and their three teenage children, Olivia, Gus and Lex. He is the head commissioner and a board member of the Pleasant Hill Baseball Association, a coach for CYO basketball, a referee for soccer and an umpire for youth softball and baseball leagues.
CCCBA has had many distinguished presidents over the years and Oliver Greenwood is sure to make his mark as a bar president and a magician who will pull many benefits out of his hat for CCCBA members. We are in for a magical year!