U.S. magistrate judge tells UHLC students to be mindful of reputation

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal

Oct. 9, 2015 – A federal magistrate judge stressed the importance of personal integrity and respect for other lawyers, including opposing counsel, in a recent lunch hour discussion with University of Houston Law Center students.

“I want to encourage you as you are thinking about your own career and the choices that you will make over the course of that career, don’t forget about the people that you have to work with and against along the way,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal of the Northern District of California told the students. “They can have a huge impact on your career down the road.”

The talk Oct. 5 was hosted by the Law Center’s Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law and the Intellectual Property Student Organization as part of the Practitioners Lecture Series.

Judge Grewal explained that unlike U.S. district judges who are appointed by the president for life, magistrate judges are appointed by the district court judges and serve eight-year terms.

Since joining the court in 2010, Judge Grewal, an intellectual property attorney while in practice, has presided over criminal and civil cases in a wide range of subject areas, including patent, employment, civil rights, contract, trademark, and federal misdemeanor cases.

“Trademark cases are as fun, or more fun, than any other cases I get to wrestle with,” he said.  Based in San Jose, California, he said many of his trademark cases involve vineyards where names, vintages, labels, and other branding marks are important to the industry.

By far, he said, the largest number of cases on his docket involve Social Security disability matters, which are very labor and record intensive.

In response to questions, he urged students to take advantage of every opportunity to work in a law firm or clerk for a judge while still in school to gain firsthand knowledge and help in deciding on a practice area.

Internships and clerkships are “tremendously important,” he said, to determine if that career and role is what you want and who you want to be in years to come. “It’s the exposure to the work that is critical.”

His own federal clerkships helped convince him he wanted to practice litigation. “I was witnessing each and every day the very best of litigation – the fun stuff, the impressive stuff, the stuff that gets your juices flowing -  trial, cross examination, jury selection. The reason it was so important was because, if I didn’t like that stuff, I was going to hate everything else. Because that’s as good as it gets, right?”

While money and the market are important considerations in choosing a career path, “First and foremost,” he said, “I thought most of all about what am I going to be excited about waking up and doing each and every day.”

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