What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Sherman Oaks specifically. I also went to college in LA. After graduating I moved to New York. My first three years in New York I went to law school in Manhattan. I would have moved here sooner, but I didn’t get into NYU for undergrad. I had always felt more at home in NYC than LA. I definitely have corrected many people who asked me if I moved to New York for law school. I say, I moved to New York AND went to law school, I think its a big difference. Living in New York came first.
My whole immediate family is still in LA, and I visit every few months. My dad is from Queens originally but has lived in LA since before I was born.
Describe your experience in NYC.
I feel like New York amplifies every experience and feeling. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. My first three years were really tough. Law school was a soul suck, and I had some trouble adjusting to the weather. I hadn’t quite found my New York “sea legs”, I suppose. Having said that, I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it and never considered leaving.
I love not ever having to drive, and I love how the literal physical proximity everyone has to each other fosters some incredible connections/conversations.
I think once I moved to Brooklyn I kinda got the hang of things. When I started my law practice things things also really started to fall into place, and I was able to build a life that works, for now at least. Oh, and I’ve moved 7 times in my 6 years here. I’ve given up on the concept of owning “stuff”.
What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
I would say that finding my place in the city after law school was the biggest challenge. I graduated in 2010 when the job market was really bad for lawyers as a whole, and especially young lawyers. While I absolutely adore what I’m doing now, I hated law school. The emotional tax it took was just brutal.
For the first 18 months after graduating, I worked at a bar in the east village, had more fun than should be legal, moved to Brooklyn, took per diem legal work, almost talked my way into a job at a big fancy law firm, took the California bar exam and then eventually said, “Ok, I can do this” and started my own law practice representing entrepreneurs in NYC and LA.
It took a while, but finding my place here has been absolutely the more rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
If we could get out of the value-based judgments of each city and their various aspects people and cultures, I think it would go a long way to better engagement. If we stopped focusing on which one was “better” or “worse” and which parts we liked and we didn’t, and instead focused on what works for each individual in the present tense for example. Part of this is to make allowances that maybe something that worked for someone else was equally valid even if it was different than what worked for me. In that context, the conversation changes from one of antagonism and competition into one of understanding and collaboration.
Favorite LA secret spot
Fiesta Brava on Rose in Venice. Growing up in LA, I feel like I have a real appreciation for a certain type of Mexican food. I know I’ve spent too much time in NY when I start to think the Mexican food is good here. Then I’ll visit LA, go to Fiesta Brava, and feel like an idiot. I mean, this place is just some dive-y spot in a mini-mall and its so much better than anything I’ve ever had in New York.
Favorite NYC secret spot
Zaragoza Mexican Deli on Avenue A between 13th and 14th (notice a theme?). This place is technically a bodega, I think. But, every day they set up catering burners on the counter and prepare 4 or 5 different proteins. For example, they will have pulled pork, beef tongue, chipotle chicken and goat. The food is pretty fantastic and eating there is a real experience. They also used to let you get drink beers in there until 6am, but that got shut down.
One of my favorite New York stories happened here. After getting off work from the bar I used to work at, I got late night tacos with a Catholic priest and a chef who at the time had two star New York Times restaurant. I feel like its the beginning of a bad joke.
I also think Abraco in the East Village has the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, but I don’t know if that’s very secret.
If you were not running your own law firm, what would you be doing?
I thought about this one for a little, because right now, running my own firm is just so damn rewarding. My thought was “well, why wouldn’t I be a lawyer, that doesn’t make sense.” I love what I’m doing and I’m excited to wake up each day to do it.
But if I had to say something, I think I’d be working in restaurants. I love restaurants, I love the culture, I love the people, I love food and I love the way a well run restaurant operates.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Yeezus, Chance the Rapper, Ghost Beach, Future Islands, Vampire Weekend, Local Natives, Sammy Adams, LCD Soundsystem, old Kurupt, and I’ve recently gotten really into Tom Petty.
Totally unrelated, but I just bought a vintage 48-star four foot by six foot vintage American flag. I stand by my purchase.
From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES