We recently sat down with Timothy Kassouni, Legal Director at Kassouni Law, to have him answer some commonly asked questions. Here’s what transpired:
What made you decide to go into law as a profession?
Law became a clear direction during my Junior and Senior years at U.C. Berkeley. During that time period, I took a number of political philosophy and rhetoric classes as a philosophy major. What struck me at the time was the clear predilection by faculty and the philosophy community in general for theories that supported centralist government control of income distribution and a view that individual liberties were favors to be bestowed as opposed to natural rights. It was apparent to me that our Country was going to need lawyers that worked to preserve individual liberties in the courtroom, because the battle lines had been drawn.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about the law in school?
What struck me about the study of law while at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles is the paramount role of the courts in preserving Constitutional rights. Far too often our State and Federal legislatures leave important issues for the Courts to decide. I was also struck by how often significant matters of Constitutional interpretation were decided by Justices based not on the text of the Constitution, but rather by the policy result most desired. Unfortunately, that has not changed much since I was in law school.
Timothy, reflecting on your over twenty-five years in practice, is there anything you’ve learned that a layperson would find interesting?
It is important to view the role of a lawyer as vitally important even if one does not have an actual legal dispute. By analogy, we go to the doctor for preventative measures, just as we obviously go to a doctor when we are sick. By hiring a lawyer to review basic contracts, such as a purchase agreement for a house or for services to be provided to a company, one can avoid mistakes that will be far more costly should a dispute arise.
In that time, how have you improved your legal approach for clients?
The answer is quite simple. Experience with a vast array of legal issues, both substantive and procedural, enables me to target issues early in the process. This in turn enables me to be able to provide a client with a cost-effective strategy and estimated chance of success.
If I decide to hire you as my lawyer, how will you communicate with me?
I allow the client to decide how he or she prefers communication. Whether it is e-mail, text, or my personal cell phone, I make it a point to be available seven days a week. I do this because I realize that lawsuits can be extremely stressful, and no question is unimportant. If a client has a legal emergency, I am always there to respond.
What is your fee structure?
I charge an hourly rate. Often my rate is much lower than what is charged in larger metros because our main office is in Sacramento with a satellite in Los Angeles. This allows me to pass along overhead savings to clients residing throughout the state. In certain cases, particularly appeals, I may be able to provide a flat fee for representation. Many clients appreciate this, as it provides assurance for budgeting purposes. While it is rare for me to handle a case on a contingency basis (in which my fee is a percentage of the monetary recovery), I have done so in the past. Call me to discuss your case, and whether it may be a candidate for contingency representation.
Tell me about a case you’ve handled in the last year that you’re particularly proud of.
I took great satisfaction is assisting a client in obtaining approval of the Palo Alto City Council for a mixed use residential/commercial development. She had been in development purgatory for years, and had gone through numerous design review hearings without success. I submitted a strongly worded letter to the City Council, setting forth the Constitutional arguments for approval of the project. By a slim vote, approval was obtained.
What is your philosophy for winning?
I have found that it is important to develop a case strategy and discovery plan as early as possible. In addition, assess as soon as possible whether the case is a good candidate for a pre-trial motion which may win the case, such as a motion for summary judgment. In my experience, Courts are far more inclined to grant well written motions for summary judgment than they were just a few years ago.
The last attorney I spoke with wasn’t admitted to practice in the court I needed representation in. Where are you admitted to practice?
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal District Court, Eastern District of California
- Federal District Court, Northern District of California
- Federal District Court, Southern District of California
- Federal District Court, Central District of California
- United States Court of Claims
- United States Supreme Court
In addition, I may be able to represent a client is a jurisdiction even if not admitted. This is done through a process call Pro Hac Vice. The Court will allow me to appear for a specific case based upon my good standing with the California Bar.