Frederick Hertz is an attorney with offices in Oakland and San Francisco. In addition to his legal practice, which focuses on drafting real property co-ownership agreements, cohabitation agreements, and premarital agreements, Frederick also works as a mediator and arbitrator. He has a special emphasis on the mediation of co-ownership and other disputes between married and unmarried couples, business partners, tenants-in-common, co-owners, family members, and domestic partners.
When did you know you wanted to become a lawyer?
After dropping out of graduate school in philosophy, I was working as a low level clerk in a library and volunteering with various social activist causes, and I decided I wanted to be more engaged in the “real world” – and that practicing law was the best use of my verbal and writing and advocacy skills. This was in 1977, and I promptly began studying for the LSAT and applied to law school the following year.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be either an academic teaching philosophy or an architect or urban planner.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
Working for individuals can be tremendously satisfying, even if you are only helping a small number of people. At the same time, helping people in crisis means dealing with a fair number of difficult people – which itself can be a real challenge.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
Finding the best way to help clients who are angry about their life situation, and who find it difficult to take advice on how to manage their situation.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
Seeing clients go from being troubled, wounded, and angry to happy, satisfied, and moving on with their lives.
What is your dream vacation?
I have many such dreams – despite taking a fair number of vacations each year. Next year I plan to take a sailing cruise from Athens to Istanbul and then spend a week on a tiny island off the coast of Turkey.
What are you reading now?
A biography of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion and a new book about gender issues by my friend Frank Browning.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
I love spending time alone not being productive, but enjoying my garden and cooking and reading magazines.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
That’s a very long list. I’d start with novelists George Elliot and Thomas Mann, and from there include the composers Mozart and Verdi.
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
I’m a lawyer practicing in Alameda County, and it’s important for me to stay connected with other lawyers and mediators in my community. I can learn from them and share my knowledge with them, and feel more connected to the place I live and work.