Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles Publisher Sarah Torres sat down with Kris S. LeFan to discuss his career.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
LeFan: I knew I wanted to become an attorney in 2005. I was drawn to the field after the first Ethiopian General Election working with the late Dr. Donald N. Levine from the University of Chicago to try to mediate the contested election results and free dozens of political prisoners – including a very pregnant journalist – from Kaliti Jail in Addis Ababa. Although we were eventually successful, I realized that I could make more of a difference in the world as an attorney.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way?
LeFan: Professor Paul Chadha from Northwestern Law School and practicing attorney in Accenture’s Legal Group told me I would be a great lawyer after seeing me direct a play at a theater in Chicago that he was doing legal work for. We laugh about everything he omitted about the law school experience and the practice of law in general.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm?
LeFan: I interviewed for the firm when they were looking for someone to work on the Carmen Trutanich v. John Shallman case regarding the Los Angeles city attorney election – very high profile with very sophisticated parties and attorneys. I operate well under pressure so I was able to impress the boss and client. It turned out that just about all of our cases are either high profile and/or high stakes. I guess you could say: “ … for me, the action is the juice.”
AALM: How would you describe the culture of the firm?
LeFan: We take our cues from Mr. Lowe, one of the pre-eminent attorneys in the area of copyright law, who in spite of his 30 years of experience, stays open to new ideas and ways to achieve great results for our clients.
AALM: Are there any changes coming in the future that you’re excited about?
LeFan: Coming soon to a shingle near you – Lowe & LeFan, PC. We will be changing the name of the firm to add my name. It is a proud moment in my career to see my name added to our prestigious firm’s masthead.
AALM: What do you find challenging about your practice? How have these challenges taught you?
LeFan: The stress. I take my clients’ problems more seriously than my own. Over the years, I’ve learned to take it all one email, one phone call, one pleading, etc., at a time. That’s all you can do if you want to be effective. Getting knocked down (even out) is the greatest lesson. Once you get up (and you will) you’ll have nothing to fear. I allow myself a moment to take pride in a successful result for a client. Then it’s back to work.
AALM: Are there any flaws in the legal profession that you see? If so, how would you fix them?
LeFan: The courts could certainly use more funding but another problem in the profession is the lawyers themselves. I see a court system that is so overwhelmed with paper by lawyers with blank check corporate clients able to litigate in bad faith and until the end of time. Our justice system should not be reduced to a war of attrition to satisfy a paying client. I hope to change the playing field, specifically the anti-SLAPP statute so that multinational conglomerates are not allowed to use a well-intentioned law (that was meant to be a shield) as weapon against working class plaintiffs. A just society deserves better.