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Hello, Thank You, and Happy New Year

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 3, 2019

By Gabe Gregg
2019 SCCBA President


Hello Silicon Valley Attorneys, and Happy New Year!


It is with enormous pleasure and, on reflection, a little shock, that I assume the role of President of the SCCBA in 2019.


The pleasure comes from my admiration for this bar association, and the positive expectancy of working and spending time with committed colleagues over the next year helping to guide our important institution during particularly turbulent and eventful national and international times.


The reason for the little shock is a bit more complex. I’ve anticipated and prepared for the coming year since I was elected as SCCBA President-Elect in October 2017. But its formal arrival has triggered some unanticipated personal introspection—perhaps abetted by my 50th birthday this last Summer—about the passage of time and alternative life-paths untaken.


I typically steer away from sentimentality, but it feels appropriate to start my tenure with public affirmation of how startlingly grateful I feel to be living and working as an attorney in Silicon Valley. I unabashedly love being a lawyer. And I love Northern California. Finding myself in this lucky circumstance, with the opportunity of taking on this leadership role at the SCCBA, is an astonishing honor considering the winding and unexpected path that brought me here.


Our outgoing president, Kevin Hammon, often used personal “anecdotal” models for his graceful President’s Messages in 2018. In that tradition, and in the context of this introductory, contemplative message, I hope you will indulge a brief recap of my personal history.


I am the only-child of George and Deanna, two California hippies that met and married “on-the-road” in Europe but had the judgment to come home to Santa Barbara for my birth in 1968. At age 5, my parents moved our young family to New Zealand, which at the time was a relative socialist-utopia far from the chaos of Nixon’s second presidential term. I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand. After 2 years of failing-to-study at the University of Canterbury, I flunked all my classes, was tossed out of the school, and decided to return to my place of birth to start afresh. In 1988, just after turning 20, I touched down at SFO with a backpack and a couple hundred dollars – and my priceless U.S. citizenship.


In an inauspicious start to my American dream, I took a Greyhound to Santa Barbara, slept in a park for a couple of nights, and started as a dishwasher at a bagel joint. But this is an amazing country, and as I began figuring its gears and levers, I realized that I needed to go back to school. After taking night classes at Santa Barbara City College, I was—remarkably—accepted to UCSB as a discretionary admittee. I studied hard and graduated in 1991 with a B.A. in Theater Arts, with Highest and Departmental Honors.


I then moved to Europe, where I had promised myself I would live since hearing stories of my parents’ life on-the-road in the ‘60s. I lived in London in semi-legal squats; I lived in central Paris in a tiny fifth-story walk-up apartment; and I worked in both cities as a waiter in Tex-Mex restaurants. I vagabonded through the continent, and North Africa, for almost two years.


Then I woke up one morning in London and, implausibly, decided to apply to law school. I had never met a lawyer and was not sure what they did. But I was burnt-out on Bohemianism, ready for a new challenge, and disinclined towards graduate school in the humanities. I flew back to California, took the LSAT, was accepted to UCLA Law School, and started as a 1L in August 1993 (just prior to the Northridge earthquake and the OJ Simpson trial). I soon learned that I relish the mix of art and science that characterizes the practice of law.


Now, 25-years later, the good-fortune that led from that weird decision seems inconceivable. I have had a providential and extremely fulfilling career as a litigation attorney: A federal clerkship in San Diego, 9 years with mega-firm Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and well over a decade at great law firms in Silicon Valley including as a partner at my current ingenious law firm, Rimon P.C. My cases are captivating. My clients, colleagues, friends, and even opposing counsel, are some of the finest, smartest, and most creative people I’ve met. My engagement with the SCCBA has been very rewarding. Practicing law here, at the center of U.S. technological innovation, is an authentic joy. And, most importantly, my career path led me to my amazing wife, Raana (Santa Clara J.D.), who is the reason I moved here from San Francisco. She, and my daughter and son, Anahita and Gieve, are the inspiration, justification, and ends for all the hard and complex work.


So, for those of you still reading, I want to thank you for being part of this special legal community, and especially for being members of this bar association. The SCCBA really does so much, often quietly, to improve and enhance our professional lives. There will be more discussion of such topics in President’s Reports to come in 2019. But for now, again – hello, thank you, and Happy New Year!

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