Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles Publisher Sarah Torres sat down with Lawerence Wolf to discuss his career.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Wolf: I was 12 years old and I had just gotten home from junior high. My assignment that evening was to interview someone in the career I wanted to follow when I grow up. I figured I could interview any one of my three friends’ fathers for the task. I knew I didn’t want to be like Jimmy’s father who was a doctor because of the blood. I knew I didn’t want to be like Johnny’s father who was a stockbroker because he woke up way too early in the morning. I was left with interviewing Billy’s father who was a criminal lawyer.
After sitting there mesmerized for two hours, listening to stories that were exciting, rewarding, and definitely unusual, I knew what I wanted to be. Shortly after that interview I found a black and white hero that I could truly wrap my future around, Perry Mason.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Wolf: I had landed my first job as a prosecutor, two weeks after passing the bar. The truly dream job for any new attorney and the chance to immediately be thrown into the courtroom. You don’t just get your feet wet, you are entirely drenched.
My first trial involved a gang fight and there were five defendants with five attorneys opposing me. They had over 125 years of experience; I had two weeks. To say that the experience was an education is an understatement. I was a punching bag; while one attorney hit me from the right another was hitting from the left. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Even though, as a prosecutor, I had all the power, I left each day feeling overwhelmed and powerless. While the five verdicts came back guilty, the victory paled in comparison to the 125 years of experience I gained in those three weeks of trial.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about being an attorney?
Wolf: Being an attorney allows me to use all of the aspects of my personality and my intellect. It requires me to use my knowledge of the law as well as my ability to relate to others, my compassion and the ability to accomplish the goals necessary without jeopardizing my client’s future. It allows me to be who I am – intelligent, witty, resourceful, compassionate and knowledgeable.
The most challenging aspect of being a criminal attorney is accepting the fact that you are powerless not only to the prosecutor but also to the judge and the system. All three stand ready to exert force and power against you and your client. The only way to overcome this powerlessness is with acceptance, intelligence, knowledge and wit.
AALM: Are there any changes coming in the future that you’re excited about?
Wolf: The attitudes toward offenders is beginning to change. One would hope the changes were entering because of the realization that the individuals who abuse drugs and other substances need treatment. In reality, however, the changes are being driven by the overcrowding of the jails. There has been no other option other than to accept that reality. Changes are occurring drastically on the state level but also in the federal level. The enactment of Proposition 47, resulting in the reduction of felony possession of drug charges being reduced to misdemeanors is only the first step in this realization.
AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice?
Wolf: My practice is defined by the end result achieved for every client and the knowledge that each client understands the process, the result and the hard work that has gone into the achievement of those results,.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
Wolf: Painting, painting, painting. My painting takes me away from my head and allows me to go on a mindless adventure into color and form. My website, a brushwiththelaw.com, reveals that exploration.