Alameda County
Bar Association

Interview with Judge Leonard Marquez 

ACBA Board Member Leonard Marquez

Leonard Marquez
Leonard Marquez, Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County

Governor Jerry Brown appointed ACBA Board member Leonard Marquez to the Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County on February 27th. Leonard Marquez was most recently a partner with Oakland-based law firm Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP. His practice focused on commercial landlord-tenant law, as well as general civil litigation. He is a contributing author for the California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) treatises, Retail Leasing, Office Leasing, and the Eviction Defense Manual. Leonard is also an active member of the Contra Costa County Bar Association (CCCBA), serving as Chair of their Litigation Section. He currently serves as the General Counsel for the state-wide California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC) and is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Contra Costa County.
Congratulations Leonard! Thank you for taking the time to help our members get to know you better.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

In high school I was sure that I wanted to be an engineer, not a lawyer.  In fact, as part of my early admission to Princeton, I had been on track to pursue a degree in the university’s engineering program.  However, during my senior year in high school, I participated in my school’s Mock Trial program.  I was fortunate enough to have an inspiring teacher who coached the team to a win in Contra Costa County’s Mock Trial competition that year and we went on to the state competition.  This was one of the reasons that I was inspired to become a lawyer (and had to explain to the administration at Princeton why I did not sign up for any courses in the Engineering department for the Fall of my freshman year).  

Who are the people who have had the greatest influence upon your legal career?

My mentors at Wendel Rosen, Gillian Ross and David Goldman, certainly had the greatest influence on my legal career.  Both were instrumental in teaching me what you get very little of in law school—how to actually practice law.  David taught me the importance of paying attention to details and “thinking like a lawyer.”  Gillian, more than anyone, helped guide the trajectory of my legal career as I became her protégé in the areas of law in which she specialized at Wendel Rosen.  She supported my growth and development as an attorney at every stage along the way.

What are you most proud of so far in your legal career?

Individually, a number of cases come to mind in which I have had success in achieving good results for my clients, especially where the road was tough.  However, if one accomplishment stands out, then it would have to be being made a partner with Wendel Rosen.  In a sense, that accomplishment represented a collective acknowledgment of the work that I had done over the years for clients.  It is a vote of confidence by the partnership and acknowledgement that one has lived up to the professional standards of the firm and contributed positively to the firm.

What tips can you give other lawyers interested in becoming a judicial officer?

Lawyers interested in becoming a judicial officer should get involved in civic and bar related activities as much as possible.  Beyond the obvious importance of building a strong c.v., those experiences will allow a candidate to have a diverse background and set of experiences to bring to the table.  Being engaged in a broad mix of such activities will also help in another critical area—building a strong network of supporters.  It is vital that a candidate build a strong network and cultivate relationships among key constituencies.

Do you know what your assignment will be?

Likely a criminal law assignment at the Pittsburg courthouse.

What are you looking forward to the most about your new position?

I look forward to having a chance to contribute, meaningfully, to a system tasked with dispensing justice day in and day out.  I would hope that if, many years down the road, I were asked what I had accomplished as a judge, I could talk about the things that I did on a daily basis in my courtroom to provide real and impactful “customer service” for litigants and lawyers alike.