Profiles in Diversity Journal First Quarter 2021

Page 48



Partner, Ontario Office Managing Partner

LEADERS Worth Watching



Education: JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law; BS, political science, University of California, San Diego Company Name: Best Best & Krieger LLP Industry: Law Company CEO: Managing Partner Eric Garner Company Headquarters Location: N/A Number of Employees: 400 Your Location (if different from above): Ontario, California Words you live by: “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” –Aristotle Who is your personal hero? My dad, Ray Duran (deceased 2002). Born to immigrant parents, and unable to complete schooling beyond middle school, he still built a solid working-class life, bought a house, raised six kids, sent me to college and law school, and left a legacy of the value of hard work and caring for others in a quiet and unassuming way. What book are you reading? Meditations by Marcus Aurelius What was your first job: Box boy/stocker at the corner convenience store in El Monte, California (age 14) Favorite charity: Coro Southern California Interests: Cooking, Southern California hiking, and learning to play the piano Family: Married to my high school sweetheart, Cynthia Gandara; two adult sons: Diego (University of Oregon, Class of 2017) and Nicolas (Columbia University, Class of 2021)

How I Found My Perfect Career From a very early age, I was certain I would be a medical doctor. I was one of those kids who liked giving a blood sample (fascinated by the vial filling up with that luxurious shade of deep red), and the idealist in me wanted to find a cure for Prader-Willi Syndrome, the genetic disorder with which my twin sister, Regina, was born. Accordingly, I started at the University of California– San Diego as a pre-med major. Two terms of regular all-nighters to prepare for and stress over science midterms, juxtaposed against the blast I was having in student government and my humanities classes, convinced me that a political science major with a path to law school might be better for my health and sanity. I was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs after college, which was a natural extension of the politics and policy-based


2021 First Quarter

fun I had had at UCSD. As a young father starting law school, I wanted to use my legal education to improve cities and ensure my kids could grow up in a strong and healthy community. Becoming a city attorney was the perfect blend of my legal training and my passion for policy and politics. Instead of becoming a politician (as my mother had always hoped), I would instead work for elected community leaders. It’s an axiom that all politics is local, and our day-to-day lives are affected more by city hall than almost anything that happens in Sacramento or Washington, DC. Whether it’s an after-school program for kids, the development of affordable housing, or planning for transportation and jobs, local governments make decisions and provide programs that help communities and people thrive.

That is why I’m so blessed to be the city attorney for the cities of Fontana and Ontario. These two local governments serve diverse communities of almost 400,000 people collectively. Whether I’m advising on new commercial and retail development, housing production, or citizens’ academies, I love helping council members and their staffs serve their communities and achieve their goals within the bounds of the law. As vice chair of the Board of Trustees for the California Bar, I work on issues affecting diversity in the legal profession and the protection of the public. Most important, though, I hope I am teaching my sons that even “certainties,” like becoming a doctor, can evolve and change in ways that make life fulfilling and fun.


Ruben Duran