ACBA Distinguished Service Award Spotlight – Judge Gregory Syren
We are honored to give our annual Distinguished Service Award for Judge to Judge Gregory Syren, Superior Court of California, County of Alameda
Join us for our Virtual Installation and Distinguished Service Awards Night to help welcome our new board of directors and Distinguished Service Awards recipients on January 21, 2021 from 5PM – 8PM. RSVP or learn more here
The Honorable Gregory A. Syren was appointed in 2012. Prior to his appointment he served as an assistant public defender at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office. He served as a deputy public defender at the Solano County Public Defender’s Office in 1987 and as a deputy public defender at the Napa County Public Defender’s Office from 1986 to 1987. Judge Syren was an associate at Guadagni Flax and McGrath in 1986. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Judge Syren currently sits in a family law assignment.
When did you know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I decided to go to law school at the suggestion of college girlfriend’s father who was a lawyer. I did not grow up with lawyers around. Becoming a lawyer was not some long dreamt-of aspiration. It was more of a whim.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
Professional tennis player, folksinger or gardener—maybe a chef. Unfortunately I had neither the talent or the stamina for any of those jobs.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
I wish I’d known that working in public service can lead to a very rewarding career. I was lucky to just stumble into it.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a judge today?
The biggest challenge is not serving all the people we are accustomed to serving. I miss seeing people in person but mostly I miss handling the volume we had pre-pandemic. We are here to provide a forum for disputes and not filling that forum is challenging.
What is your favorite part of being a judge?
My favorite part of being a judge…even though not currently in person…is interacting with lawyers, litigants, and staff.
What is your dream vacation?
A dream vacation would involve New York City and Paris, maybe in consecutive weeks.
What are you reading now?
The New York Times. I haven’t read a book since my last vacation (The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells), thank you family law. Scary book.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
I’m very sentimental…will cry during a movie or even a good commercial.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
Bob Dylan circa 1967, Rod Laver circa 1970, and Gandhi.
Why do you choose to be a member of the ACBA? What is the greatest benefit you have enjoyed as a member?
As a public defender I never joined the ACBA, though I now wish I had. When I became a judge, I joined to have more interaction with the local bar, and since been involved with several trainings and programs with the bar. My son and daughter-in law just passed the bar and I have encouraged them to join the ACBA and the programs they have for young lawyers. I continue to be impressed with work the ACBA is doing to provide education and outreach to the legal community-especially during the pandemic. I plan to remain an active ACBA member as long as I am working.
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