I was born in Chicago in 1944, but I developed a chronic cough when I was in my terrible twos, so the doctors told my parents that they should move to a place with a better climate and cleaner air. The family already owned property out west, so we moved to a small suburb in Southern California, thirteen miles southeast of Los Angeles city hall (irony intended). The health problem went away on its own.
After graduation from a high school named after a Supreme Court Justice, I headed off to UC Berkeley just in time for the free speech, civil rights and Vietnam War movements. Despite all the excitement, I managed to get my BA in history, and moved over to the other side of the Bay to San Francisco for my MA in political science. I also spent a year in New York City at NYU. Betwixt and between I got married and we had three children (two girls and a boy), though the marriage sadly ended in divorce in 1986.
We moved back to Southern California in 1972 after my first year of law school at UC Hastings College of the Law. I completed my law studies in 1976, and was admitted to the State Bar the same year. I went straight into private practice, and took on any cases that would get me into a courtroom and in front of a jury. I’m sure I was a frustrated actor, and my legal mentor was Perry Mason.
I was cross-sworn as a judge pro tem in the municipal and superior courts in 1981, and continued in that capacity through 1983, ultimately returning to private practice in criminal and family law. At the same time I was recruited by county counsel as civil prosecutor for Child Protective Services. I was also pro bono counsel for the County Rape Crisis Center.
I was admitted to the Federal Bar in 1981, and have practiced both trial and appellate law in California, Michigan, Florida, and Washington DC. By a strange twist of fate, I was also introduced to several entertainment attorneys in Los Angeles, and became their associate counsel in criminal matters involving movie and music industry personalities. Mostly I handled drunk driving and drug-related charges for them, so it’s obvious I’m not going to name-drop the identities of the clients.
I closed my practice in 1991 after the divorce, did a brief stint with Bancroft-Whitney/Lawyers Co-Op, then moved back to San Francisco after being recruited by Transamerica to head their west coast risk management office. At the same time, I taught constitutional law at several Bay Area law schools. TA closed the risk management unit in 1994, but by that time I had developed contacts in the retail industry and had been involved in several labor-management contract negotiations. After about a decade as a labor relations consultant, I decided to do something outside the legal arena, and went into executive management with Macy’s/Federated Department Stores. After being recruited by a Hawaii exotic jewelry firm for their California and Nevada operations, I suggested severe belt-tightening, including closure of several of their stores. They not only did that, but when the big crash occurred in 2008, they closed their entire mainland division.
That was my message that it was time to retire. The Hawaii company offered me a position in Honolulu, but by now I had eight grandchildren in California, and decided I didn’t want to be half an ocean away from them. I now live in a town in the low Tehachapi Mountains of Southern California which has a population about equal to that of a couple of apartment complexes I inhabited in San Francisco. Oh, and I write for a brilliant political blog called Commentarama.
With a genuine, honest-to-God Chicago birth certificate name like Lawrence Hawk, the screen name LawHawk wrote itself. Only the SF has been changed to RFD to protect the innocent.