DM: Amy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. You’re the first point of contact for so many of our clients that I thought we could give people the chance to get to know you a little better. I guess to start things off, how long have you been with the firm?

AM: No problem, Dave. Let’s see, it’ll be…7 years this August. Wow—it sure doesn’t seem that long! (laughing)

DM: Do you have an official job title here?

A: I’m officially a “legal assistant.” I handle reception, some HR duties, and some general office managerial-type stuff too. I wear many hats, as they say!

DM: How’d you end up at GJEL?

AM: Well, I’d just finished college and was working at the coffee shop downstairs for awhile. I was interviewing for different jobs and kind of figuring out which path was best for me. Andy was one of my favorite customers. Actually, come to think of it so was Luke. They were ALWAYS trying to get me to interview with them. They liked my people skills and kept telling me I’d make a great addition to their team. “When are you coming up, Amy…we’d love to have you…blah blah blah” Seemed like every day they’d ask me to come up for an interview—they were relentless!

DM: So it sounds like you’d been planning to go into law for quite a while then, and just kind of lucked out that the coffee shop was close to a law firm?

AM: No, actually I majored in Sociology. That’s why I was a little hesitant to interview for a law firm. I was planning to work for an organization that helped people, in one way or another, and for whatever reason law just didn’t to strike me as a profession where that happened very much. I was thinking maybe Planned Parenthood or Equal Rights Advocates. I didn’t have much exposure to the world of law so I didn’t really consider working in it.

DM: What changed your mind?

AM: Andy. He finally convinced me by explaining how the firm really helps their clients get back on their feet and get their lives back. People really go through a lot when they sustain an injury. Even after working here for as long as I have, it’s amazing the number of medical specialists they have to see. They need help figuring out their property damage issues, they need help getting investigative reports and medical records. It’s hard to handle all of these things AND recover from a serious injury at the same time. As Andy told me, that’s where we come in. We let our clients focus on what is really important—their health. We really help people here. That’s what changed my mind about working here and it keeps me working here. I feel like we really make a difference in the lives of our clients, helping them get through a rough time. It makes me feel good to help them the way we do.

DM: Do you have a favorite client that you can tell us about?

AM: ;Of course. I have tons of favorite clients! But I think I should talk about Al Bigham—

DM: —What’s his story, why is he one of your favorites…—

AM: I just love telling Al’s story. He was involved in a tractor rollover about…25 years ago. The accident left him a quadriplegic. He was only given something like four years to live. Then Al ended up losing his wife, who he justadored, to cancer. Somehow this man found a way to smile every single day. He beat his death sentence by years and years. Al came to the office about once a month. You could feel the warmth of his smile before he even turned the corner. What a doll. He and Andy were really close friends. Andy was there for Al after his accident, and seeing the way he faced life really helped Andy when Al went to visit him in the hospital one time. They had such an obvious bond. Al passed away a couple years ago but I swear you can see his spirit in his kids and grandkids. To this day Andy still helps his family with any and all legal issues they have. Al was an inspiration to me, too. He truly appreciated everything he had, even though he had had so much taken away. We really miss him.

We’ve had so many terrific clients over the years that bring us food or gifts even after their cases settle. They are always so appreciative of the work we do for them. It’s really sweet, it definitely makes you realize why you work here. Sometimes clients call up and say, “Is Andy there? He helped me with a case 30 years ago and he said that he would always help me if I needed him. Well I need him.” The funny thing is, when I tell Andy who’s on the phone, he always remembers who they are and the details of their case that he settled 30 years ago! It cracks me up.

DM: Wow, what a great story about Al. We should get Andy to talk about Al at the next Christmas party for all of us new folks who don’t know the story.

AM: Yeah, definitely.

DM: So can you describe for people the general atmosphere of our office? It might be hard for people to get a sense of the place without actually visiting…

AM: Everybody here works super-hard, but it’s such a friendly place. It definitely starts with Andy and Luke and Ralph and Jim and Kristin. When people of their quality are the lawyers, it’s pretty easy for the staff to follow suit.

I love my work family. We’re a tight-knit group of very talented people. Maybe a good example is that I invited the entire office to my wedding, that’s how close we are. I spend lots of time outside the office with so many people here. I get to work alongside my best friend Lexi—we met here at the office. Our team is solid. I mean, together we’ve accomplished things that usually only big firms would even undertake. I’m proud I’m a part of it. I’m glad I finally caved to Andy and Luke and quit the coffee shop!

DM: Their loss, our gain. Well thanks again for doing this, Amy. We’ll have to do it again for your 10-year anniversary in ’09.

AM: I’ll be here, thanks Dave.

Author Photo

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Since 1972 he has been helping seriously injured victims throughout northern California fight & win their personal injury cases. Andy is one of the top awarded & recognized wrongful death lawyers in northern California.