The attorneys we’ve selected for our Inaugural Attorneys to Watch are among the movers and shakers you will want to keep an eye on this year. With new practices, big cases, moves and expansions, these attorneys will be making a real impact on the practice of law in Arizona. Criminal Law Carmen Gosselin Q: What drew you to the practice of criminal law? Gosselin: I have always been inclined to question authority (so says my mother); criminal defense was just a natural fit. I have a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy focusing on ethics. I was always interested in the philosophy of justice and fairness. During law school I always excelled in my criminal law classes. I suppose I knew I was going to be a criminal defense attorney long before I became one. Q: Which case most defined your career? Gosselin: I represented a college football player who had recently graduated and was on the brink of playing professionally. His life took an unfortunate turn when he rekindled a friendship with the wrong girl. She would eventually accuse him of kidnapping, aggravated assault and robbery. Even though, my client had never been in any legal trouble, he was facing a long prison sentence if convicted because the state had alleged the crimes were dangerous. The trial was full of sex, lies and no videotape. The alleged crime had occurred at a bus station that had 32 different video cameras, but the lead detective never asked to see any video footage, let alone impound it as evidence. The girl was also less than credible. During trial she testified that my client had stolen $1,500 in single dollar bills, which she claimed she had in her little clutch purse. During my closing argument I had $1,500 in single dollar bills brought into the courtroom as demonstrative evidence. The dollar bills were stacked into two columns each about 8 inches high and impossible to fit into her little clutch purse. I argued that my client was innocent and ultimately the jury agreed. Regardless of the outcome, this case most defined my career because I had to use every tool I had ever learned while trying the case. Q: What flaws do you see in the current legal landscape? How would you propose they be corrected? Gosselin: The system is set up so that opposing counsel is more concerned with winning and less concerned with justice. I would change the system to be less about re-election and retribution, and more about rehabilitation. Q: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as an attorney? Gosselin: Connecting with people, building trust and providing a level of comfort or peace of mind while we navigate through the storm. Q: How would you say your practice has evolved over the years? How is it different from the way you envisioned it? Gosselin: I have evolved into a better negotiator and advocate. I am more of a creative problem solver rather than a zealous fighter; although, I still keep that tool in the toolbox because sometimes a fierce and zealous fighter is absolutely necessary. Q: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Gosselin: I’m looking forward to building my practice. I enjoy my work and I enjoy helping people. DUI Law Brian Douglas Sloan Q: What drew you to the practice of DUI law? Sloan: DUI law was something I was just thrown into. Going through law school, I knew I was only interested in criminal law. When I started working for my first law firm, I was tasked with representing DUI clients. Every seminar I attended, I focused solely on getting the latest information on DUI Defense Representation. Then I started making guides for other lawyers to use when representing a DUI client. Then I started teaching DUI Defense Representation at seminars around the state. In my career, I have handled nearly 2,000 DUI cases, and done close to 100 DUI trials. Q: Which case most defined your career? Sloan: In one of my first trials, I represented a guy charged with Aggravated DUI while having children in the vehicle. I discovered that his driving was likely affected by the beginning stages of a subsequently well-documented issue with seizures. My client was once a wealthy professional, but was nearly bankrupt due to his medical condition that progressed for years after his arrest. The first jury came back hung, and prior to a retrial, I was able to negotiate a misdemeanor plea agreement for my client. This was the first of about 10 hung juries I have received. I have seen many clients like this who are charged with DUI and Aggravated DUI, despite a lack of evidence, despite another explanation, despite not being made aware of a license suspension, and, in some instances, despite being a victim themselves. In some cases, my clients have had something slipped into their drink or were the victim of a car accident only to become a Defendant charged with DUI. Q: What flaws do you see in the current legal landscape? How would you propose they be corrected? Sloan: There are a lot of problems with the legal landscape, and they can only be fixed legislatively. One of the most overreaching issues nationally is the unwavering belief by judges and juries as to the absolute truthfulness of a police officer’s testimony. Within the last few months, I have had an officer testify that my client held onto the side of the car for support, reportedly due to their extreme drunkenness, yet the video clearly showed a perfectly upright individual with no issues standing still or walking, who never even touched the side of their car upon exiting. If not for these instances when video has been available, I have no doubt that a judge and jury would buy everything that the police officer wrote in his report. This underscores the need for dash cams and onperson body cameras, which are currently available, but sporadically used. Cameras make everyone honest, and make for a better legal and justice system. Q: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Sloan: In 2015, I begin my 11th year of practicing DUI Defense. There are some upcoming DUI seminars that I look forward to teaching, and I have come up with some interesting topics to discuss. I will also be featured in a book that will be coming out in 2015 called “A Cup of Coffee with 10 of the Top DUI Attorneys in the United States.” Immigration Law Yasser F. Sanchez Q: What drew you to the practice of immigration law? Sanchez: As an immigrant, I always saw the need for qualified legal professionals to guide people through the complicated immigration system. During my first year of law school, I participated in a legal clinic at Brigham Young University. After a couple of weeks, I knew it was my calling. I wanted to help people kick-start their American Dream. Q: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice and how do you overcome it? Sanchez: Applying a very complex and ever changing immigration system to each case makes federal immigration law challenging. I have to apply statutes, codes, laws and immigration memos to a set of very diverse cases, in order to help my clients reach their goals of living and working legally in this great nation. My clients differ greatly in socioeconomic and educational backgrounds from professional baseball players and nuclear scientists to international models and landscapers. I have to explain how the immigration system applies to each of them. Communication and expertise is the means of overcoming the complexities of immigration law Q: What flaws do you see in the current legal landscape? How would you propose they be corrected? Sanchez: The current immigration system is broken. The current politics behind immigration have created an environment incapable of fixing the system. Two moves by Congress could help our broken immigration system. First, we need to create a guest worker program for unskilled labor. We should also get rid of the three and 10-year bars which make is very difficult for family members of U.S. citizens who have unlawfully entered the country at some point to be able to adjust their status. Doing these two things would create a fairer immigration system. This change could allow needed unskilled laborers to join the U.S. economy legally. At the same time, it would bring mercy to the millions of immigrants who are not able to attain legal status, letting them join their U.S. citizen family members. This must be done in connection with increasing the security of our southern border. Q: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as an attorney? Sanchez: There is nothing like looking into someone’s eyes that has never been able to attain legal status and saying, “I can help you become an American.” As an immigration attorney I make it a point to find a way to give immigrants hope that they can bring their spouse, fiancé or family member here to the United States. Uniting families that have been separated by borders, oceans and paperwork is the task. I see immigration law as a labor of love. Someone has to be loved by someone to have him or her be brought across the world to this great nation. It is rewarding to see families united on a daily basis. Every form our firm fills out is a life that can be changed. Business Litigation Amy Wilkins Q: What drew you to the practice of litigation? Wilkins: There was never any question that if I went to law school I would be a litigator. I have always been the sort of person who has to win at board games; I’m competitive by nature. I also like writing, so I enjoy arguing my client’s position through writing the best reasoned brief possible. Plus, with litigation, I get to learn about all sorts of different businesses, from TV stations and car sales to securities and medical marijuana. I need to understand my clients’ businesses to represent them effectively, and there is always a new challenge. Q: Which case most defined your career? Wilkins: When I was a first-year associate at Kirkland & Ellis, I was assigned to help defend a class action involving credit card charges. I learned far more than I ever thought I’d know about credit card payment processing. By having that class action experience, subsequent firms assigned me to any class cases they were handling, and I eventually moved to a class action firm. I continue to partner with class action firms as a solo because it is a rewarding and effective way to challenge corporate practices that affect more than just one client. Q: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice and how do you overcome it? Wilkins: I became a solo practitioner in 2012, and the immediate challenge was not being part of a team anymore. I was used to having more than one attorney assigned to a case, to having a more senior attorney advise me when needed, and to having a secretary and paralegal. Suddenly, I filled all of these roles. I have overcome this challenge through experience; I know after more than two years that I can run my practice and my cases effectively. I also know that my former colleagues are available to assist if I want to run a question by someone. Q: What do you find most rewarding in your day-to-day work as an attorney? Wilkins: Now that I run a small firm, I have smaller cases and more individual clients than when I worked at large firms. Rather than the client being another lawyer, I often represent individuals who have never been through the litigation process. I do my best to be available, to explain the process, and most importantly, I try to listen. It has been rewarding to obtain positive solutions for these clients and to truly feel like I have been of assistance during a difficult time in their lives. Q: How would you say your practice has evolved over the years? How is it different from the way you envisioned it? Wilkins: I never thought I’d run my own law firm. I worked at large firms, and I liked working big cases. But I’m happier now than I’ve ever been having my own business and my own clients. Some of my cases are very small now, but those cases are rewarding because they can sometimes be resolved effectively very quickly. And I still work on large cases, sometimes by partnering with other firms, so that part of my practice continues to evolve. To my surprise, I’ve really enjoyed the marketing and business aspect of running my firm, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring. Personal Injury Law Shane Warner Q: What drew you to the practice of personal injury law? Warner: I’ve had a passion for personal injury law since I first starting practicing. Injury law fits my personality very well – it’s competitive, negotiation-heavy and rewarddriven. I’m confident in my ability to deliver great results, and I guess that’s why I don’t shy away from the contingent recovery aspect that injury law presents. Q: Which case most defined your career? Warner: I don’t feel that my career is defined by just one case, but one case comes to mind when I try to identify my legal career. A few years ago, I represented a young man who had developed a fatal disease at his employment. Surprisingly, he held no ill will toward his employer. His optimism and passion for life were amazing, even during his last few months. He had his priorities set and his faith was strong. His family always accompanied him to our appointments, which I found endearing. My client was in his mid-30s when this disease finally took his life, but my time with him gave me a tremendous amount of perspective and appreciation for law – and for life. His legal battle was lengthy and I’ll never forget the day that we were ultimately able to settle his case, albeit just weeks before he passed away. To this day, I’ve probably never had a more appreciative, kinder client. I felt very fortunate to be able to call myself his attorney … and his friend. Q: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice and how do you overcome it? Warner: My practice carries constant challenges, mainly from dealing with dozens and dozens of different insurance companies. I’ve handled hundreds of cases throughout the years but it’s still tough to exactly predict how the opposing side will evaluate and handle my clients’ claims. Q: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? Warner: I would really like to see my practice continue to grow. My practice is highly referral-based and I consider it the highest compliment to receive a trusted referral. However, I also enjoy the opportunity to represent a new client and build new trust. Q: How would you say your practice has evolved over the years? How is it different from the way you envisioned it? Warner: I have been self-employed since the day I passed the bar exam, so it has benefited me to learn as I go to a certain extent. Not many lawyers get those invaluable experiences. My entrepreneurial ways have allowed me to realize what it means to build a successful business and valued business relationships from the ground up. When I first started practicing, I never would have believed that my vast experience as a young attorney would help mold me into the attorney I am today. I’m a firm believer that experiences define you. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s how you know it and what you can do with that knowledge. Q: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Warner: I really look forward to the holidays each year, especially Christmas. Spending uninterrupted time with my family and friends usually comes at a premium throughout the year, so year-end celebrations have always been a favorite of mine. Plus, I have two young children. Making memories with them and witnessing the joy they experience on Christmas is absolutely second-to-none.
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