Gina Boer is a partner at Haapala, Thompson, & Abern in downtown Oakland. Her nearly 30 years of practice have put her in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Pre-eminent Women Lawyers. Her litigation practice specializes in real estate, complex litigation, commercial and residential landlord/tenant, construction defect, insurance defense, personal injury, contract disputes and divorce law. Gina is also a certified mediator serving bay area litigants in the areas of real estate, contract disputes, business, debt recovery and personal injury.
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I knew I wanted to become a lawyer during my last year of college at UC Berkeley. The university had recently started a Legal Studies department and offered a few courses in the field. I took Jurisprudence and loved it. I also took a class in the Anthropology department called Anthropology and the Law with Professor Laura Nader (Ralph Nader’s sister). It was a great class because we were encouraged to do field work. My classmate and I did our field research at Berkeley’s King Jr. High School where we studied peer to peer harassment (bullying). I think this experience and the classes I took inspired me to go to law school and become a lawyer.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
To keep my options open after college, I applied to Master’s degree programs in International Studies in addition to law school. I was accepted at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy which is part of Tufts University in Boston. If I hadn’t gone to law school, I would have attended Fletcher. From there, I probably would have joined the Foreign Service and you would find me living in some remote part of the world instead of here in the Bay Area.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
I wish I had known then how important it is to not just be a good lawyer but how to be a good (no, great) business person. Developing business, getting clients in the door, networking, running a law firm, etc., were not on my radar in those early days. I appreciate now that those skills are critical to a successful practice.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
Having enough time for everything I do. In addition to practicing law, growing the business and running the firm with my partners, I am involved in several professional organizations at the board level (WLAC, CCCBA/Women’s Section) and I have a dynamic personal life. I love to exercise, travel, spend time with my friends and my kids (in their 20’s), read, etc. It is difficult to give 100 percent to everything I care about. I do my best!
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
I have to say that I have several favorite parts. I love engaging with the people I meet and problem solving. I feel that as a civil defense attorney, my primary role is to figure out how to resolve cases and then set the wheels in motion for that to happen. I love the intellectual
challenge that problem solving requires but I also enjoy tapping into my creative side. For these reasons, in addition to my law practice, I am also a mediator.
What is your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is the next big one I have planned. I am going to Cuba in October. After that trip, my dream is to go to Asia (Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines). Honestly, I don’t think I will ever run out of dream vacations.
What are you reading now?
I am about to start reading Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
People might be surprised to learn that I grew up in New Jersey and moved to California at age 20 without ever having been here before.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
I would love to have dinner with Eleanor Roosevelt. She was born into wealth and privilege. At a time when women of her social status were discouraged from drawing attention to themselves, she overcame personal and social challenges to be a voice for women and others. While she was considered a feminist and activist in the last century, she might not qualify as such by today’s definition. But that is what I find so intriguing about her. With few role models, who she was and who she became during that period in American history fascinates me.
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
The ACBA unifies our legal community and provides a means for all of us lawyers in the county to meet, socialize, learn and support each other. I joined the ACBA because I appreciate these many benefits. The greatest benefit of the ACBA varies for me from year to year depending on my professional and personal focus. This year, I am greatly benefiting from the MCLE programming. I think the ACBA does a great job of covering so many practice areas and providing many learning options that are cost effective, convenient and interesting.