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Ben Aguilar ‘11 Discusses His Solo Practice

October 20, 2014

Before attending Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Ben Aguilar ‘11 already knew what he wanted to do as an attorney. “I wanted to use my law license to do something meaningful that had a very direct impact on people’s daily lives.” After passing the bar and working briefly at a workers’ compensation firm in November 2012, as part of the TJSL Center for Solo Practitioners Aguilar opened his own practice specializing in family and immigration law. “This environment was a great support network,” said Aguilar. “It was extremely helpful to come to work and have other attorneys to discuss cases with and get second opinions.”

Aguilar began his practice in San Diego, and after only one year, opened a satellite office in Imperial County. “I will be celebrating my two-year anniversary as a solo this November,” Aguilar said. “It has been a very rewarding two years. Many learning experiences, many sleepless nights, stressful days, but I love being able to control my own schedule and control the type of cases that I work on.”

“Family law cases tend to be pretty high conflict, so there is never a dull moment,” Aguilar said. Family law also provides Aguilar a unique opportunity to work on legal issues that are continuously evolving with U.S Supreme Court and Circuit Courts decisions. “Many assisted reproductive technologies cases are incredibly fascinating and tend to be learning experiences for all parties involved including attorneys and judges,” Aguilar points out.

While family law is rewarding, being able to help clients move on with their lives in a dignified manner, for Aguilar, practicing immigration law is fulfilling in a different way. As an immigration attorney, he has been able to reunite families after long and difficult separations. Clients and former clients, grateful for Aguilar’s help, often send him emails or cards to update him on their life. “It is nice to get these types of emails and cards in the mail,” Aguilar said. “They keep me motivated.”

A current TJSL Alumni Board Member, Aguilar is grateful to TJSL for what he considers the foundation of his success. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I was presented with throughout my law school career and even after I graduated and passed the bar,” Aguilar said.  “This is what has inspired me to serve on the TJSL Alumni Association Board of Directors. I want to give back to the law school and ensure that new students continue having law school experiences that are as great as my own.”

“I selected Thomas Jefferson in part because of their focus on public interest,” Aguilar explained. At TJSL, Aguilar also found a valuable network of “incredible professors and role models in Professors Marybeth Herald, William Slomanson, Marjorie Cohen, Ben Templin, and Kaimipono Wenger.” When it came time to study for the bar, Aguilar relied on what he describes as the “incredible” Bar Secrets team. “I am particularly appreciative of Professor Andrew Poplin, for taking the time to really make me understand character evidence before the bar exam,” said Aguilar. “They forever have my admiration and respect.”

Reflecting on what made his time at TJSL memorable, Aguilar said, “I really do not believe any other law school would have supported my ideas and goals the way that TJSL, especially the Student Services Office, supported them throughout law school and after graduation. At TJSL, I was not Student X or Student Y, I was Ben. Faculty and staff knew what I stood for, what my motivation for attending law school was, and they encouraged me to be my best. Thomas Jefferson invested in my personal and professional success, and for this, I am very thankful.”

Today, Aguilar credits his involvement with multiple boards, on the leadership skills he developed as President of the International Law Society (ILS). “That opportunity was a great platform for me as a future local attorney,” Aguilar explains. “During my term leading the organization, TJSL’s ILS chapter was recognized as the Best Chapter of the ILS in the nation by the International Law Student Association. At the same time, I was voted Student Organization President of the Year,” Aguilar said. “This opportunity really gave me the confidence to go out in the community and volunteer my time serving on different committees and boards.” Aguilar currently serves on five board of directors: the TJSL Alumni Association, the New Lawyer Division of the SDCBA, San Diego La Raza Lawyer Association, No Silence No Violence, and is CFO of the Tom Homann LGBT Law Association.

To recent post-bars, Aguilar candidly said, “Unfortunately, your grades, your law diploma, and your shiny new license to practice law will not be enough to get you a job and professional success. In order to be successful you need to have some direction.” In Aguilar’s experience, direction involves discipline, “Sit down and do some strategic planning. Think about where you want to be in six months, one year, and two years. Write it down. Come up with an action plan and do not be scared or embarrassed to seek help from career services, alumni, or attorney mentors.”

“I want to encourage current law students to become involved within the law school and the San Diego community,” Aguilar added. “Be proud to be a Thomas Jefferson student and know that you are receiving a high quality education from a world-class faculty.”