could better serve people by representing employees who had been harmed through no fault of their own. In essence, I knew I wanted to change sides,” she explains. Understandably, leaving the safety of her position to venture out onto her own in plaintiff’s work wasn’t a decision Rizzo was going to make haphazardly. She set about to try to create a safety net for herself, and found a mentor willing to provide exactly that. “I reached out to David Strauss, a well-known employment attorney in the area and shared with him my desires to turn my practice from defense to plaintiff’s employment. He shared stories about his firm and what he enjoyed about representing employees. Several weeks later, he gave me the opportunity to work alongside him on several of his larger cases, and offered to mentor me as I went out on my own. Being offered the opportunity to start my own firm with a safety net of being aligned with a terrific plaintiff’s employment lawyer seemed like a no-brainer,” she recalls. Now, more than two years later, Rizzo hasn’t looked back for a minute. Her guiding ethos have earned her favorable peer recognition and corresponding accolades, including the 2013 Top Attorney Award for Employment Law from the San Diego Daily Transcript. She also received the Judge David R. Thompson New Lawyer Award in 2012. In 2009 and 2011, the San Diego Daily Transcript presented her with the Top Young Attorney Award, and the San Diego County Bar Association presented her with the Bar Star Award in both 2009 and 2010.
Civility & Integrity Extend Beyond Client Representation For Rizzo, advocacy, civility and integrity aren’t just nebulous ideals to aim for. On the contrary, they are interwoven into all aspects of her life, both professionally and personally. In her personal life, she is passionate about community service work, and her efforts benefit her hometown of San Diego, specifically. Rizzo sits on the Board of Directors for her alma mater, the University of San Diego School of Law and she is the current Co-Chair of the Labor & Employment Section of the San Diego County Bar Association. She is an Adjunct Professor at USD Law School and frequently lectures to legal and community groups about employment laws. She participates in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office Adopt-a-Family Program; she’s served the YWCA and Casa Cornelia, has volunteered with the Polinsky Center, and helped to create the Higgs, Fletcher & Mack Diversity Scholarship in conjunction with USD Law School. She is incredibly enthusiastic about her professional affiliations, most notably her work in the San Diego County Bar Association. “I’m passionate about serving the SDCBA and its community of legal practitioners.
The SDCBA is the umbrella organization for our legal community, connecting all practitioners in all areas of law, including plaintiffs’ lawyers, defense lawyers, and the numerous law-related specialty bar associations. Developing strong connections between legal groups reinforces community partnerships and creates a network of diverse attorneys working toward the common goal of civility and professionalism,” Rizzo says. “Litigation in general can be contentious, but I have found that knowing other practitioners through community work or through common membership in the SDCBA makes the litigation much more civil as there is mutual respect between the attorneys. The SDCBA promotes civility and camaraderie because it creates a place where all San Diego legal practitioners belong,” she says fondly. Not surprisingly, Rizzo has taken her passion for her work at the SDCBA to new heights this year. She is currently running for one of the four at-large Director Seats on the SDCBA Board of Directors. “If I’m elected, I will strive to build strong connections between practitioners and specialty bar associations within our legal community to ensure the SDCBA serves the needs of its unique and diverse membership,” Rizzo explains.
Aspirations and Ambitions: As far as the future of Rizzo’s firm is concerned, she tries not to get too far ahead of herself. “I have my own firm, am working in an area of law I am extremely passionate about, and representing clients who need counsel.” However, her plans do include giving back, whether it’s educating others about the highly specialized nature of employment law, regardless of whether they become clients; improving her hometown community, working together with her fellow attorneys in the SDCBA to raise the standards of excellence, or mentoring up and coming attorneys. Rizzo says, “I am a firm believer in the power of mentoring. I have been very fortunate to be mentored by several well-respected attorneys and judges. My mentors have taught me the values of civility and integrity in the profession of law and have encouraged me to follow my own unique personal career path. They have helped me become the attorney I am today, and I am so grateful to them for that.” n Contact: Kristin Rizzo Rizzo Law, PC www.RizzoFirm.com email@example.com 619.333.0949 1111 Sixth Avenue, Suite 404 San Diego, CA 92101
Attorney Journal | Volume 122, 2013
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