Jul 01, 2019
Jul 01, 2019
By Scott Buell
The Marin Lawyer recently sat down with Dan Rossi, the new co-chair of MCBA’s Barristers section, at his office in San Rafael. Also present was Dan’s friendly black Lab, Zita.
What is your practice area?
I’m a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney exclusively. That's pretty much what I do, day in and day out, here at Martino & Rossi Law Firm along with my wife, Kelly Martino. We opened the firm in 2017.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
It came down to the fact that I always felt compelled, even as a young kid, to defend the little guy, the person who was being pushed around. A legal education helped me become a plaintiff’s attorney, which was a natural fit to help the little guy. Almost everything we do at Martino & Rossi is geared toward helping to even the playing field for these individuals who find themselves going up against powerful insurance companies. I think that's the primary reason I ended up in law school rather than some other graduate program.
Why did you choose to live in Marin?
I had a job interview at a P.I. firm here in San Rafael and after the interview I went for a hike and ended up near Muir Woods and I just fell in love with the whole amazing, preserved, open-space here and I thought, “Why not live here?” If I’m going to work up here, I don’t want to commute to a beautiful place and then go home to somewhere that is congested and over-populated, so it was an easy decision to make.
Tell us about your family.
Our family continues to grow. My wife, Kelly, and I have twin boys, Enzo and Luca, who are almost two years old; and we are now expecting our third child, our first daughter, in December. I suppose, of course, our original daughter is Zita, our black Lab, who has been around since we graduated from law school.
What do you love to do when you're not busy practicing law?
When I’m not busy practicing law, which seems to be all-consuming these days since when you have your own practice you never seem to really get much time off, it's my routine almost every morning to go to the gym at 5:30 a.m. before I start my workday. I used to run a lot more, and I try to get out on the trails occasionally, but it is kind of hard with the kids. One of the things I’ve started doing more of is playing soccer again. I used to really enjoy playing in high school and Marin has this great thing called the Marin Co-Ed Soccer League. It's not hyper-competitive and there are age-restrictions (women of all ages and men thirty and over) so the games are more friendly and collegial. There are no standings and we don’t officially keep score, although it seems everybody still knows who the better teams are. It’s been fun and entertaining, and I can play on the weekends without compromising quality time with the family.
If you could pursue any career other than law what would it be and why?
I think I would become a pilot. I’ve recently started reading up about what is required to take the pilot’s exam. I don’t know when I would get the time to log in all the required flight hours. That would likely be the biggest challenge for me, but I just really enjoy flying or being up in the air. I find it to be a very freeing and liberating experience, especially when you’re in one of those small prop planes and you’re literally moving away from everything and you're just up there by yourself, although obviously with a pilot at this point, but it’s something that is very relaxing for me.
Why did you join the Marin County Bar Association?
I was convinced by colleagues, most of whom I know from my involvement in ALMA (Association of Latino Marin Attorneys) and they were all pushing for it. I was led to believe early in my career by some attorneys that the Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) was the be-all and end-all for Bay Area practitioners, but I’ve found the Marin County Bar Association has a lot more to offer, especially if you’re living in Marin. I feel like joining has been a good experience. When you work here in Marin, you really get to know your colleagues, who are the attorneys you’re mostly dealing with day in and day out. I found I didn’t have the same close relationships in the BASF that I do here. I spend time with more colleagues from the MCBA than any other professional association. That’s also led to me getting involved now in the leadership in the Barristers section. A lot of attorneys I respect as peers in the community are in some way active in the MCBA and I wanted to be more active and helpful to keep this organization moving forward.
If you could pick a single highlight of your career what would it be?
Starting my own practice was a watershed moment. I had enjoyed many feel-good moments working at several P.I. firms—small victories and overcoming legal obstacles. But no one really tells you when you’re learning to practice law what it takes to run a law firm. There’s a lot involved. Everyone says, almost passé, that sometimes you must put on your attorney hat or other times you have to put on your business-owner hat. But it’s so much more than simply putting on a hat. Sometimes it seems like it’s a full-time job just managing the business and on top of that you need to find the time to do the legal work. It’s been a gratifying learning experience. I think for a lot of attorneys it can be very comfortable staying in certain practices but once you make the decision to do it and you overcome the fear factor of “Oh my goodness, is this going to work?” and then it actually starts working, it is so satisfying. Opening our practice is one of the biggest feats we’ve accomplished. It was surely a great decision for Kelly and me.