A New Lawyer’s Reflections on the Practice of Law During COVID

April 16, 2021

By Joshua S. Smith

March 2020 marked the start of my second year practicing law here in Ventura County. It was also the start of COVID-19 – that “thing” that has unapologetically turned all of our lives upside down, on their heads, and buried them in endless Netflix and Amazon Prime streams. To say that my first year or so practicing law here has been “eventful” may be an understatement, but probably not in the typical first-year of practice sense.

For the most part, my limited time practicing in this County hasn’t provided too many chances to introduce myself to our local legal community. This is partly because most of my legal work at A to Z Law is focused on our firm’s public law and land use practice, and thus, most of my work-related interactions are with our local agencies’ staff, private clients, and various city and county planners. This is also partly due to the fact that nearly a third of my legal career has now been under the auspices of social distancing, Zoom calls, and working from home.

I made one court appearance in that first year of practice before the pandemic. You could say it was educational and informative, but it would be better to say it was anxiety-ridden, nerve racking, and stress inducing. It went by so fast that nearly nine months later, all I remember from the hearing is the hour I spent in front of the mirror at home beforehand, reciting my legal arguments to the cat, who may or may not have been more receptive to my theory of the case than the presiding judge. In hindsight, it’s still a toss up. I also attended a handful of VCTLA CLEs, a few Barrister events, one VCBA Installation Dinner (featuring renowned comic Tom Papa!), and volunteered at the County’s Mock Trial event (where I realized that this county is armed to the teeth with fifteen and sixteen year olds who are way more qualified to practice law than yours truly).

The point is, after a year and a half of practicing in this County, I still haven’t had the pleasure of meeting most of you. Nonetheless, with things being as they are, I feel extremely fortunate to be practicing amongst you all. Ventura County is an amazing place. It offers a quality of life that is unrivaled by any other region of Southern California (trust me, I know, I lived in the other ones). It has miles of beaches, countless surf breaks (with free parking!), a plethora of hiking trails, bike paths, and camp sites, endless sunsets, and beautiful star-filled night skies. But most importantly, it has the sort of legal community that is welcoming to a new, young attorney.

I truly look forward to developing and growing my legal practice here in Ventura County, and as things get back to normal (whatever that might be), I hope that we all have more opportunities to get to know one another in the near future. However, until that time comes, I’d like to offer a simple thank you to all those in our legal community for creating a warm, welcoming and inviting place for a new guy like me to call home.