Member Spotlight: Karen A. Neri
1. When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer? Junior year in high school, we had a career day and in comes a young female attorney. She left a lasting impression on me and I thought it was so awesome she was an attorney at 26. From then on the thought of possibly becoming an attorney stayed with me. However, it was not until I completed undergraduate school that I became set on becoming an attorney. I realized then, and more so now, that I am drawn to helping others; that, being a voice for the disadvantage and fighting for a good cause is a motivating factor for me.
2. If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead? I would have gone into the science field and either became a physician or an archaeologist. I am fascinated by human evolution and I love watching documentaries that revolve around human development, and the growth of our civilization as well as culture.
3. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice? Recognizing the importance of finding a mentor and developing solid interpersonal communication skills. Similar to all new practitioners, I was limited in my skills and experience but what I lacked in the beginning, I could have definitely made up with having a great mentor and the ability to deliver or obtain information with finesse.
4. What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today? I would say the biggest challenge would be the budget crisis affecting our courthouses. The shortage in clerks, judges, court reporters, available courtrooms, and increases in court fees are among those that have hindered litigants’ access to justice and made the practice of law a bit more difficult.
5. What is your favorite part of being a lawyer? My favorite part of being a lawyer is being in a position to serve as an advocate and counselor to individuals and families during a very difficult time in their lives. My current areas of practice include family law, guardianship and personal injury. It is very satisfying to me to assist people and bring them to a much better position than when they first met me.
6. What is your dream vacation? My dream vacation would be to travel through Europe and India to experience new cultures, as well as teach and take yoga. In addition to being a lawyer, I am also a certified yoga instructor.
7. What are you reading now? As of the present moment, I am reading “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People By Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie. It contains great insights on how to be a better and persuasive speaker.
8. What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? I am naturally a shy person and being in front of an audience is a challenge for me.
9. What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with? Abraham Lincoln. He is definitely a visionary and quite a brilliant man. I would love the opportunity to pick his brain.
10. Why do you choose to be a member of the ACBA? What is the greatest benefit you have enjoyed as a member? I choose to be a member of ACBA because of the wonderful benefits the organization provides. I would say that the ease in which ACBA allows me to be connected to the legal community in Alameda County from the various MCLE courses, events and support groups has certainly helped me grow as an individual and as an attorney.
Karen A. Neri is an Associate Attorney with Viola Law Firm. Ms. Neri has practiced family law, personal injury and general civil litigation and has represented clients in matters of marital dissolutions, property disputes, custody, visitation, support, domestic violence prevention, guardianships, and personal injury claims.