“Ventura Highway in the sunshine, where the days are longer, the nights are stronger…” Sentiments, immortalized by America’s hit of the early ‘70s, that are very close to Alex De Arana-Lemich’s ‘17 heart.
Growing up in Ventura, De Arana-Lemich always dreamed of ultimately settling in his home town, but not until he had established himself in a career. His undergrad years were spent at UC Santa Cruz, and following a year working for the City of Ventura as a legislative services clerk, he decided to go to law school.
“I wanted to study law because I wanted to gain the skills to serve and give back to my community by getting involved in government, drafting legislation, or consulting on the actions of government institutions like cities and counties,” says De Arana-Lemich.
He threw himself into all aspects of law school becoming President of the California Western Chapter of the American Constitution Society and the school’s representative of the Federal Bar Association. De Arana-Lemich singles out the STEPPS Program as pivotal in preparing him to be practice-ready. “While I had a lot of experience talking with individuals in a lot of different capacities, I remember that STEPPS and the mock interview allowed me to get a better insight as to how to deal with a client in a legal setting,” he says.
In December 2017, an unprecedented disaster struck De Arana-Lemich’s home town as the Thomas fire ignited; traveling at record speed it caused untold damage to the city.
“My grandfather was one of the people affected by the fires, and I knew many friends who lost their homes and their prized possessions,” says De Arana-Lemich.
Fresh out of law school and having passed the Bar exam, De Arana-Lemich embarked on a series of job interviews. A serendipitous interview with San Diego-based Singleton Law Firm would lead him back to Ventura sooner than he thought. As the premier fire litigation firm in the State of California, Singleton was in expansion mode and an office in Ventura was the company’s next move.
“Shortly after joining the firm, they asked if I would like to move back home,” recalls De Arana-Lemich. “I jumped at the chance and now head the Ventura office where I get to work hands-on with friends and family and other members of the community as they piece their lives back together.”
De Arana-Lemich is proud to help his neighbors recover from the trauma of those devastating fires and is fulfilling his original reason for wanting to study law—giving back to his community.
“These fires were as bad as they were, not only due to the drought conditions but fundamentally due to the lack of care in the utility to maintain their equipment or prioritize safety over profits,” he says.
Suing a utility is challenging because everyone is dependent on their services, says De Arana-Lemich. They are treated like semi-government entities due to their exclusive control over services for a specific jurisdiction.
“Working on these cases involves larger discussions about climate control, government regulation, government efficiency, and questions about liability, today and tomorrow.”
De Arana-Lemich encourages California Western students to take advantage of the many practical courses offered by the law school as well as seeking internships that provide a variety of experiences.
“It is important to get the most amount of experience in school before you step out to practice,” he says. “Each new simulation prepares you for the unknown that comes with real-life practice.”
After law school, De Arana-Lemich had planned to stay in San Diego with his fiancée, but the opportunity with Singleton changed all that. “This job came at a great time and allowed me to not only use my legal skills to help others but return to my hometown which I didn’t think I would have been able to do for years.”
“Tell me, how long you gonna stay here, Joe?” ask the lyrics in America’s iconic song. De Arana-Lemich has no answer to that—he’s just happy to be home.