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Profile in Practice: William N. Hebert

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile incoming State Bar president Bill Hebert:

CEB: What is your practice area and how did you choose it?

Bill: I generally classify the work I do under the rubric of business torts, which over the years has included antitrust, trade secrets, interference with contracts, false advertising, and unfair competition.  I got interested in these types of claims while I was working as a legal assistant at Ackerman, Johnston, Campbell & Parkinson, where I learned from smart and honest lawyers who were doing interesting work.

CEB: What CEB book or program have you found most helpful in your practice and why?

Bill: The book I find most helpful is Civil Procedure Before Trial.  Although I have tried my share of cases, most litigators are proceduralists, and this book is a solid guide through the pretrial process.

CEB: Why do you choose to write/speak for CEB?

Bill: I like diving into a particular area of the law that relates to my practice, but which deserves deeper study, such as joint defense agreements, or cross-examining survey experts.  When doing the work to write the article or prepare my presentation, I always find some case or line of cases that surprises me.

CEB: What do you like best and least about practicing law?

Bill: I like strategizing with my clients and fellow lawyers.  I don’t like keeping timenotes.

CEB: What is the best legal tip you ever received?

Bill: Judge Patrick Mahoney, when he was my supervisor at the City Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, once said, “You don’t make the facts.”  For me, that did two things.  First, it relieved a lot of the stress I was feeling about some of my cases that, no matter what I did, seemed to leave me on the losing end.  And second, it helped to guide my risk analysis of cases by making me confront the facts, which allowed me to focus on strategy and law.

CEB: How do you think the practice of law will change in the next 15 years?

Bill: Legal services in litigation will be more and more unbundled, and not just for low-income clients.  Corporate clients will want to do more in-house and limit by agreement what their outside counsel do, as will well-heeled individuals.  More work that we now consider legal work will be done by non-lawyer professionals.

CEB: What are the most interesting books you have read recently?

Bill: I loved Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which is a biography of Thomas Cromwell.  I didn’t want it to end.

CEB: What is your contact information?

Bill: Calvo & Clark, LLP, One Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA  94111.

CEB: Thank you, Bill, and congratulations on being elected the State Bar’s 86th president!

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