An Interview with Alice Cheng – ACBA Distinguished Service Award Recipient for New Lawyer
Though she is a native of Hong Kong, Alice Cheng was raised in San Francisco. She earned her JD at the University of California, Davis School of Law (King Hall). Prior to joining the Law Office of Tracey C. Wapnick, Alice practiced family law in Contra Costa County. Alice has experience in handling all types of family law cases, including dissolution of marriage, adjudication of paternity, child custody, child support (including DCSS cases), spousal support, property division, and domestic violence.
Alice Cheng also worked as a legal intern, legal research assistant, and deputy district attorney at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, where she completed eight criminal jury trials and numerous bench trials, preliminary hearings, motions to suppress evidence, and more. You might not know that Alice also speaks Cantonese and basic conversational Mandarin!
Alice Cheng is an active member of the local legal community. She is the 2017-2018 Chair of the ACBA Barristers Section, and serves on the ACBA Board as an ex-officio member. We are proud to offer her our Distinguished Service Award for New Lawyer. She sat down with is to share a little more about herself, below.
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
In middle school, someone suggested that I consider becoming a lawyer because I liked to read and debate. Around the same time, an attorney from Morrison & Foerster came and spoke to our class about working as an attorney. It sounded pretty cool at the time, so I made it my goal.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
I think I would’ve owned a small restaurant, or worked as a food/travel writer.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
You should never be afraid to ask for assistance or seek out a mentor. You can do all the research in the world, but it will not replace practical advice from seasoned attorneys. Most people are happy to help.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
The court’s uncertain financial outlook. As the courts continue to face budgetary cuts to vital services, it makes it really difficult to provide reliable information to our clients, especially in the field of family law.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
When you brainstorm and are able to think of a creative solution to resolve a seemingly unsolvable problem.
What is your dream vacation?
Somewhere tropical, where they have those rooms right there on the water. This is ironic, because I can’t swim, but just look at that water!
What are you reading now?
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
I like the idea of arts and crafts and being able to create things with my hands, but am horrible at it. I apparently lack the patience and fine motor skills needed. My husband, however, is excellent and very crafty, so I end up “delegating” to him when the need arises.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
I joined ACBA because I figured it was the most logical thing to do when I started working in Oakland. I got more involved when I met Vince Tong through the Earl Warren American Inn of Court, and he invited me to a Barristers Section board meeting. The greatest benefit is the networking opportunities that ACBA offers. I have met so many great colleagues that I know I can call on for help, and the bench officers in our county are also very invested in helping young attorneys.