This week’s Member in the Spotlight is Paul Burglin. Paul was born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County, California. He still lives and practices in the place where he grew up. “A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.” Paul cherishes giving back to the community that nurtured his deep roots. Paul developed a hard work ethic early on in life.
Starting at the age of 12 he delivered newspapers, washed dishes, worked at a deli, and served as a busboy. He worked the graveyard shift at Wells Fargo reconciling checks at night to get through college. He started at the Community College of Marin, where he was elected Student Body President and served as the Editor-In-Chief of the College of Marin Times. He transferred to U.C. Berkeley after becoming fascinated with the civil protests and demonstrations there- ignited in him a passion against injustice. He graduated with a degree in Political Science and then worked as a file clerk in a San Francisco law firm. Taking a year off school, “brown-bagging” it every day and saving nickels, he put himself through law school. He graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1984.
Paul is a Regent of the National College of DUI Defense. He is board certified in DUI by NCDD. He co-authors the two volume treatise, California Drunk Driving Law, with NCDD Fellow Barry Simons. He is the editor of the NCDD Journal. Among his voluminous DUI specific training, he is one of the few attorneys in the country to have attended the Borkenstein Course designed for government scientists on alcohol forensics.
Paul has thirty years of private practice in DUI law. One of his clients went to trial twice- the first was a hung jury, 11-1 for guilty. The second trial resulted in an acquittal. The client was so inspired; he went to law school and became a U.S. Attorney. Paul says, “There is little that pleases me more than to get a letter of gratitude from a former client whose life I helped change in a positive way, that and getting a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict.”
Also among his favorite successes was an unwinnable case where the judge had made it clear in pretrial negotiations there would be no probation due to the egregious facts and dire circumstances. Paul’s skillful handling of the humanizing aspects of the trial kept his client employed, contributing, and off the streets despite all odds, and was enough to change the judge’s mind following the guilty verdict. Paul relishes the practical differences he makes in lives, versus the all too often touted score sheet of wins versus losses. He has fine-tuned a reputation for being a “damage control” expert in redefining a win, as it pertains to the citizen accused when acquittals are not an option.
Paul’s advice to lawyers is, “Find a niche that you enjoy and become the best at it. Get to know the lawyers in your community.” For Paul it is all about respecting and valuing personal relationships: understanding and respecting your colleagues, because it is people that makes things happen working together, not esoteric ideas or great notions in the abstract.
As for his personal relationship and what guides his off the clock time and resources, Paul has a tender and touching love story. Paul met the love of his life Mona, his very first week of law school where she was an undergrad. They dated for three years and parted ways. He never stopped thinking of her. Seventeen years later, he had heard there was an earthquake in Washington where her father lived. So he called him to see if he was okay and learned he was dying from kidney failure. He also learned that Mona had been recently widowed with five children (ages 2-15). With Mona’s father’s blessing, Paul contacted Mona and they resumed their beautiful love journey together raising five wonderful children that have forever changed his life. Paul remarks that going from “George Clooneyish bachelordom” to raising five children has brought out in him a “deep and abiding sense of humor.”
Paul is a testament to the College in not only his talents, sacrifice and dedication to the goals and mission of NCDD, but his genuine love and concern for others. Too often, defense lawyers are portrayed as the outliers or iconoclasts of the lawyer world. Paul proves that not only are DUI/DWI lawyers the most social of the lot (look at their client base!), they can also be the best looking, dashing, and biggest hearted of the bunch. Paul, we at NCDD thank you for all that you do, and most importantly, the character you are. We are honored to serve alongside you.
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