By Jules Copon
On the corner of First and Laurel St. sits the law office of Casey Gerry, one of the most prominent plaintiff’s firms in San Diego. The ornate Mediterranean exterior eases you to the marble and mahogany of the reception area where awards nearly wallpaper the room. Multiple standing plaques displaying “The Best Lawyers in America,” emblazoned in gold, affirms the standard of this powerhouse firm.
Casey Gerry partner Gayle Blatt, our very own CWSL 1985 alumna and member of the CWSL Board of Trustees, gleefully briefs The Commentary on her legal career and various law school memories.
You’ve been named one of the “50 Most Influential Business Leaders of 2018”—so, who influences the ‘Influencer’?
I am influenced by the work of so many women and men who broke down barriers so that I could have the opportunities I have had in my career. I continue to strive to be worthy of their efforts. And of course, my family. I’m always trying to live up to their faith in me!
What motivated you to join CWSL’s Board of Trustees?
Cal Western gave me a lot. It gave me a great education—sometimes you don’t even realize how much you were given until you get to use it. Throughout the years I’ve done different things associated with the school– judging moot court or appellate team competitions. And the students of Cal Western blew my mind– the caliber of the students made me proud. I wanted to see if there was anything I could do for the school, to say thank you for everything that I’ve gotten from my education.
You’ve been practicing for 30+ years—what is the most noticeable change in the legal industry from the beginning of your career to now?
The use of computers has certainly changed a lot. There seems to be more people going out on their own—not as many of the medium-sized firms. There are more women, which is a great thing, and more diversity.
You were appointed as one of five attorneys handling a case for the company Yahoo, regarding the largest data breach in history—honestly, how many Bankers boxes of discovery does that look like?
You’ll be pleased to know we don’t deal in Bankers boxes, all ESI [electronically stored information]—there were millions and millions of pages and documents! But, the good news is technology makes it easier. Technology Assisted Review (TAR) is really helpful— the program takes the millions of documents that defendants produce and finds the ones most relevant to your search terms. The “de-duping” feature helps gets rid of the duplicates—the program also tries to connect documents that will make sense to review together.
To name a few of the other awards you’ve amassed between 2005-2018: San Diego Super Lawyer; San Diego Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar”; President’s Award, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego; Top 50 San Diego Lawyers; Top 25 Women San Diego Lawyers; from 2012-2017 named one of the Best Lawyers in America— that in mind, how would you encourage a fledgling attorney trying to make a name for themselves in this business?
Find a mentor—but a real mentor, an ally, in the community that you can be invited to events with to get to know other people, and get involved. Be the best you can be—and make sure that your word is your bond. Always do what’s right and work as hard as you can to reach your goals.
Flashback to 1L Gayle, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 1L self or to current 1Ls?
As you’re going through school, ask yourself: “What kind of lifestyle do you want to have?” Do you want litigation, which has unpredictable hours, or a more transactional practice? To be part of a firm or have your own practice? Try to tailor your clerkships or volunteer work to see if that is what you like. Have goals—if you want to ultimately be your own boss, have goals so you work towards that, so that you’re always directing your destiny instead of letting it happen to you.
Outside more predictable metrics (grades, community service)—is there an underrated trait that is beneficial to being a good lawyer?
Commitment to doing the best work, and underpromising overdelivering—just be the person you would want working for you. For instance, if you have ten projects and you give somebody one project—what would make you most proud and happy to support that individual would be to get in a timely manner more than what you asked for: a work product that you can use that will really help you as you go forward on that project.
You were named “Outstanding Trial Lawyer” on three separate occasions— do you have any pre-trial rituals to get you amped for trial?
I do not have any particular ritual, but my partner, whose office is next door, still watches “A Few Good Men!” Really, it’s just a lot of work, a lot of preparation—trying to make sure you didn’t leave a stone unturned. Preparation is as much the key to trial as anything else.
When you’re not in your role as an attorney—what other hats do you wear?
I’m a sister, daughter, mother, wife—hopefully a good friend, hopefully a good partner to my law partners. I’m involved in the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Youth Camp, which I love. I try to do what I can in the community to support diversity and community as a whole.
What is an obscure law school principal you learned and were convinced you would never use—but have actually used in practice?
I don’t know? Statute of Frauds perhaps— which is interesting because you wouldn’t think would come up in personal injury or class actions, but it did come up once or twice in my 30+ years.
And lastly, what is the Rule Against Perpetuities?
I don’t remember—something that has to do with 23 years and property? I don’t remember what it is. I do remember the professor saying, “We have to teach this, you’ll never use it.”