At Callahan & Blaine, our talent pool is deep. Each month, we publish our “Attorney Spotlight” where we look past the briefcases to see what makes the men and women of Callahan & Blaine tick. How have we won over $2 billion in verdicts and settlements? It’s a team effort of hard work, dedication, experience and savvy litigation. Today, meet Senior Trial Attorney, Stephen Farkas!
Name: Stephen Farkas
Position: Senior Trial Attorney
Birth city: Bellflower, CA
Current city: Coto de Caza
Law school: Emory University School of Law
Q: What attracted you to the legal field?
A: After college, I took a job with a group that operated under an annual contract. Every year, a group of us would form a committee to work with an attorney and renegotiate our contract for the next season. Through this experience, I observed our attorneys provide fairness through representation and stability for our families. After observing what a tremendous impact a great attorney can have, I knew I needed to apply to law school. Originally, I applied to law school thinking I wanted to work on transactions and negotiate contracts. During my third year, however, I took a trial skills seminar. Through this class, I was able to observe trials at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta and watch trial lawyers make a difference in peoples’ lives. This experience changed everything and I knew I had to be a trial lawyer.
Q: Was there anyone along the way who mentored or influenced your work?
A: I had a professor named Boyde Hood who worked with me through both undergraduate and graduate school. Boyde would tell his students that talent without hard work was meaningless. Whatever you were working on, Boyde would constantly remind you that “good enough, isn’t.” He constantly challenged us to refine our process and not simply expect a result. There is a big difference between something worth having and something that is only “good enough.” I continue to appreciate his guidance.
Q: What do you think sets Callahan & Blaine apart from the rest?
A: At Callahan & Blaine, “good enough, isn’t.” We are a team of highly trial skilled lawyers who look for creative solutions to big problems. We do this by preparing each case for a jury from the first day. We achieve results by challenging each other to learn more and look for the details others may miss. Every member of our team works for the result worth having.
Q: Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of (or was interesting).
A: My first trial was over the interpretation of a contract provision. I represented a family-owned business and the opposing party was a former business associate. The issue was whether the underlying contract called for a payment based on the net or gross proceeds of a particular transaction. If the Court rejected our interpretation, it was very likely the business would fail. After three days of evidence, the Court accepted our interpretation and found in our favor on all issues. As a result of this outcome, the client remains operational and has since expanded.
Q: What are the things you wish you knew as a junior associate that you know now?
A: 1) Check the mute button; 2) Don’t put an address on an e-mail until you are done proofreading; 3) Read the directions. But seriously, I think the most important thing I would tell myself is that no matter how complicated a problem is, use common sense. The simplest solution is probably the right one.
Just for fun:
Favorite TV show: College football, especially USC.
Family Facts: My wife and I met at USC as undergraduates. We have two children, aged 10 and 12. Our daughter convinced us to adopt a cat from her preschool teacher.
Guilty Pleasure: Lucky Boy Burger Breakfast Burrito in Pasadena. Sunshine wrapped in a tortilla… try it.
No. 1 Bucket List Item: Watching USC win another National Championship in person.
Dogs or Cats: Dog, but still working on the rest of the family.
Dream vacation: Diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or wreck diving in Micronesia.
Favorite High-Profile Case: O.J. Like the rest of my generation, it was my first look at trial.
Favorite Fictional Lawyer: Judge Harry Stone.
Be sure to check back for next month’s Attorney Spotlight, where we will meet another talented Callahan & Blaine attorney! Our law firm represents corporate, professional and entrepreneurial clients of all sizes. To find out more about our distinctive approach to advocacy and dispute resolution in complex litigation, contact us at the Callahan & Blaine offices in Santa Ana.