Tyson & Mendes fosters the professional development of our attorneys at all experience levels. In 2016, Tyson & Mendes formalized a Young Professionals Group to provide support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for attorneys and clients early in their careers.
In 2019, the Tyson & Mendes Young Professionals Group will highlight both rising stars and seasoned litigators to share their insights and experiences building their legal careers. To kick off the New Year, we congratulate six T&M law clerks who recently passed the California bar and are now Associate Attorneys. Welcome Chandra Roam, Kris Darrough, Jillian Stanley, Amir Shoar, Danielle Vukovich and Patrick Wooding! Learn more about each of our newest Associates below.
T&M: You completed your undergrad in Colorado, then came to San Diego for law school. What is the biggest difference between the two cities?
CR: I went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins for undergrad. As legend has it, Fort Collins served as an inspiration to Walt Disney when he designed Main Street, USA inside the main entrance of Disneyland. Being a Colorado native, Fort Collins is a perfect playground because it is surrounded by mountains and provides for unlimited outdoor recreation activities right in your backyard. Outdoor recreation and community are very important to me, and San Diego does not disappoint. The biggest differences between Fort Collins and San Diego are the proximity to the ocean and the winter weather. Coming from a land-locked city surrounded by mountains, I am still amazed that I get to live at the beach, enjoying an endless summer. Although I sometimes miss the snow, I definitely do not miss scraping ice off my windshield in winter.
T&M: If you could have dinner with any historical legal figure, who would it be and why?
CR: This is a tough one. There are so many influential historical legal figures who have contributed enormously to the practice of law. However, if I can only choose one, I would want to dine with the first woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She is certainly one of the trailblazers of female advancement in the legal field and I would relish the opportunity to learn about her journey and time spent on the bench. Also, on a personal level, I relate to Justice O’Connor because she is a woman of the west, having grown up on a cattle ranch spanning tens of thousands of acres. I spent many summers as a kid working on a cattle ranch and training horses. I would love to trade anecdotes about growing up as a “cowgirl.”
T&M: Compared to other firms you have worked for, what makes Tyson & Mendes so unique?
CR: Tyson & Mendes is an amazing firm. The partners and other leaders have cultivated a strong, dynamic firm culture that spreads throughout all the offices across the country and resonates into every aspect of our work. The result is a team-oriented, collegial atmosphere where everyone supports each other to solve tough problems and deliver outstanding results for our clients. The culture also acts as a foundation for fostering growth among the Associates. The firm invests in its people, providing us with the tools and resources to succeed which enables each of us to be the best lawyers we can be.
T&M: Why did you decide to become a civil defense attorney?
KD: I first became interested in becoming a civil defense attorney when I took my Civil Procedure course during my first year of law school. Although at first glance it seems like it is all about rigid rules of civil procedure, there is so much strategy involved and it was fascinating to learn about the way different people approached different issues. I still enjoy it to this day, because as I learned through my experience at Tyson & Mendes, the cases are always interesting, unique, and challenging.
T&M: While going through law school, you held several positions, in addition to being a law clerk for Tyson & Mendes. How did you balance all your different responsibilities?
KD: I believe I was able to balance my different responsibilities with passion and definitely a lot of coffee. One rule I had set for myself when I began law school was to only get involved in things that interested me. Although I joined many organizations and held different positions, I had a genuine interest and passion in all of them. Although at certain times I felt overwhelmed, genuinely caring about each commitment helped ensure I completed everything in the best way possible.
T&M: What has been your most memorable moment so far at Tyson & Mendes?
KD: As I noted before, I love the work at Tyson & Mendes because we always get interesting cases. My favorite and most memorable moments have been the firm’s social events where I have bonded with my colleagues. Despite how much our firm has grown, I believe there is a great firm culture where everyone is friendly to one another and it contributes to a great work life.
T&M: What practice areas do you find most interesting and why?
JS: I am a very curious person so I find many practice areas fascinating. So far I have really enjoyed working on personal injury cases. The cases often involve interesting circumstances and each case is a little bit different from the next, so I am constantly learning new things about a wide variety of topics. I also have always been enamored with medical malpractice. My mother is a surgical nurse, and I grew up surrounded by stories of the medical profession. Despite not wanting to be a doctor (sorry, mom!), I always found the medical field fascinating, and medical malpractice cases always present you with something new to learn.
T&M: You spent some time in Thailand teaching English to young children. Tell us about that experience?
JS: Shortly after graduating from George Washington University, my best friend and I found a wonderful volunteer organization, The Mirror Foundation, where we could live in the local Thai villages and teach English to children who mostly came from the hill tribes. Learning English is often a crucial skill in an economy where tourism plays a significant role, and in Northern Thailand, the people do not always have the opportunity to interact with native English speakers. I largely worked with primary school children, and also with children in preschool and college monks. One of my favorite memories is having a picnic on top of a hill overlooking the countryside with the local teachers, swapping stories and laughing as the sun set. The entire experience sparked my love of traveling and learning about new cultures. I have now backpacked and traveled to over 15 countries and am always actively planning my next trip.
T&M: What do you remember most about your first days as a law clerk for Tyson & Mendes?
JS: What always stood out the most about my first day at Tyson & Mendes as a law clerk was how welcoming and helpful everyone at the firm was. Everyone was so friendly and went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable in a new environment. I had many different internships in law school, but this was my first time at a private law firm. New jobs can always be a little intimidating, but everyone at the firm went above and beyond to ensure I had an amazing first week. This has stayed true throughout my time at Tyson & Mendes. The people at this firm truly make it a special place to work.
Oh, and of course I remember the amazing view from my desk which overlooked the Pacific Ocean. I think I saw some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed at that desk.
T&M: What has been the biggest challenge of your career thus far?
AS: In a large scale sense, learning English was the biggest challenge of my career thus far. I immigrated to the U.S. at a relatively early age and dealt with the hurdles associated with learning an entirely new language. On a smaller scale, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is seeking out mentors with similar backgrounds and experiences who could successfully guide me through my journey into this career thus far. As a first generation college graduate, I had to step outside of my comfort zone and actively seek guidance from members of the legal community who understood my background and could appreciate the specific challenges I faced.
T&M: When not at work or home, where are we most likely to find you?
AS: Somewhere with my dog, Zeus. Zeus is a 100lb German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix. He just turned a year old and keeps me on my toes, mentally and physically. We love going to the Del Mar dog beach – but we do not love drying down before getting back in the car.
T&M: What do you enjoy most about working at Tyson & Mendes?
AS: The size of the firm. There are just enough people here where I feel like I have a diversified practice spanning across a multitude of fields. However, the firm is not so big that I feel like a faceless name in the crowd. The firm culture is very fostering and conducive to learning the practice from the ground up. I think it is a great place for a first year associate to work without feeling wholly overwhelmed, while still learning more than just document review.
T&M: What interests you about insurance defense?
DV: The aspects of insurance defense that interest me the most are the varied range of practice areas available and the opportunity to gain litigation experience in those many areas with a wide array of insurance company clients.
T&M: If you could live in any other city, where would it be and why?
DV: If I could live in any other city it would be Chicago, simply because I am a huge Cubs fan!
T&M: What has been the most interesting case you have worked on so far at Tyson & Mendes?
DV: While at Tyson & Mendes, the most interesting case I have worked on was a personal injury case in which the plaintiff alleged he was injured while at work in a somewhat irregular manner. Although the injury at issue was specific to the particular work of the defendant employer, facts about the plaintiff’s personal life made him unable to accurately pinpoint the cause of his injuries. Additionally, this case was particularly interesting because of the number of parties involved, significant volume of discovery, and complexity of legal issues involved.
T&M: East Coast to West Coast – why?
PW: The weather, mostly. The snow is fun and all, but nothing is better than 65 degrees and sunny in December.
T&M: If you were not a lawyer, what would you be and why?
PW: I would be a scientist at NASA – I find outer space fascinating. My ultimate goal would be to travel on one of the first missions to Mars. In the meantime, however, I will wait until Mars needs its first lawyer.
T&M: While you were clerking for Tyson & Mendes, who was your biggest inspiration?
PW: My biggest inspiration while clerking for Tyson & Mendes was definitely Justin Evenson. He first interviewed me for a position at the firm and was later my team leader while working in the UTC office. Justin was always so helpful whenever I had a question or a problem and was a great mentor while embarking on my legal career.