J. Edwin Rathbun Jr., 35, partner
Seki, Nishimura & Watase
Rathbun has first- or second-chaired 15 trials and scored wins in some high-profile cases. Recently, he served as lead counsel in two federal jury trials involving allegations of brutal civil rights violations by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department against an inmate. Despite multiple defendants, incidents and a handful of plaintiffs witnesses, Rathbun steered the juries through the winding details and conflicting accounts. He won complete defense verdicts for both cases, one of which was named a Top Defense Verdict of 2011. He's also handled complex business litigation, representing clients such as AT&T, Southern California Edison and the county of Los Angeles. In his spare time, he serves as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School, and serves on the board of the Jenesse Center Inc., a nonprofit, domestic violence intervention program.
Word that best describes you?
Toughest moment in law school or as a lawyer?
A few months after passing the bar I participated in a seven-week jury trial where we represented a well-known corporation, who was a defendant. An adverse verdict came back against our client for several million dollars. It was a difficult introduction to jury trials and that how no matter how good you think your case is or how good a case you put on, you never know what a jury may do. As difficult a result it was, it was also an invaluable learning experience.
Most interesting place you've traveled?
Boston. I found its rich American history (Fenway Park in particular), to be fascinating.
Hours worked per week?
Thankfully, I work at a firm that encourages a healthy work-life balance, so I don't work nearly as many hours as I used to. During the past year it's been about 45 to 50 hours a week.
Best advice you ever got?
My law partner, Gilbert Nishimura, told me several years ago that jury trials are about connecting with the jury. I can say that I didn't truly understand what he meant until about a year or two ago. I always keep this at the forefront of my mind when going into trial.