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Saturday, Jun 15, 2024

Special Report: Who’s Who In Law – Sean Andrade

SEAN ANDRADE

ANDRADE GONZALEZ LLP, Managing Partner

Andrade

Sean Andrade, who co-founded downtown-based litigation boutique Andrade Gonzalez LLP in 2013, has built a name for himself through a variety of court victories.

Insurance, however, is his bread and butter. He is the insurance coverage counsel for the Los Angeles Unified School District and runs insurance recovery efforts for Santa Monica. Among other notable work, Andrade’s firm was hired to file an amicus brief in opposition to Texas v. United States regarding Barack Obama’s DACA executive order.

Andrade also dedicates much of his time to organizations and public service work; he serves as a board member on the California Minority Counsel Program, co-chairs a committee for the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms and was selected for the Los Angeles County Redistricting Committee in 2011.

How did you discover your interest in law? And how did you arrive at your specialty?

Growing up, my father was a free lawyer for farmworkers. I remember attending marches and community meetings with him, but I was sure I wanted to be an engineer. But, while I was in college at UC Irvine, California was hit by a huge wave of anti-immigrant and anti-affirmative action sentiment. I became very passionate about these issues and got involved. When some students organized a hunger strike against the UC’s removal of affirmative action, I was quickly appointed to obtain legal counsel and handle legal issues and, ultimately, chosen to speak at the UC Regents meeting on behalf of the movement. That was a transformational experience for me.

Realizing that my passion was to fight for justice and that I needed to make a difference for others, I decided to pursue law school. To be sure, after graduating, I first joined the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a nonprofit civil rights organization. After three years at MALDEF as a paralegal and policy analyst, I attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

While at Penn Law, I enjoyed learning about business law and business issues. I ended up taking so many business classes that I also graduated with a Certificate of Study from The Wharton School in Business & Public Policy.

After law school, I joined BakerHostetler as a commercial litigator. While there, I got on my first insurance-coverage case. It was an extremely large and complicated case involving a multi-million-dollar satellite in space that was dying because the coating on the solar arrays was failing. With experts on both sides, the major coverage fight was about whether there was a sudden breakdown or slow deterioration over time. From then, I was hooked. No matter how complicated or how hard we need to work, making sure insurers pay under their insurance contracts is about getting justice and helping others. Too many times, people and companies accept their denials without fighting back. This is why insurance coverage is now one of my main specialties.

Tell us about the most noteworthy or interesting case (or cases) that you’ve been involved with.

I have handled numerous high-profile and high-stakes cases, and many featured prominently in the Los Angeles Times and national news. 

Recently, I represented an entertainment media company founded by A-List celebrities with an insurance coverage dispute over a reality TV show that it produced, a radio station in various business and employment matters and an international company in a licensing and intellectual property dispute.

One of the most rewarding cases was helping “dreamers” by representing 33 mayors of major U.S. cities, pro bono, against a constitutional challenge to President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Our brief detailed the immeasurable benefits and contributions that immigrants make to our nation’s cities.

How did the pandemic affect your career, and what do you think is on the horizon for the legal industry?

A big takeaway for me from the pandemic was having flexibility. The shutdown in L.A. required us immediately to embrace new technologies and adapt to new challenges. Thankfully, we already invested in the best technologies with fully cloud-based systems for document management, email, billing and phones, but we all know lawyers who cannot get away from paper. They had to change, because even now, most court hearings, depositions and mediations are still virtual. Being creative, flexible and knowing when to recommend something different is the key. Going forward, lawyers will need to continue staying ahead of technology with major changes coming, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence.

What is the biggest challenge that comes with your job?

As managing partner, one of the biggest challenges is how to balance time between managing the law practice and doing the legal work. However, I am passionate about what we do, and I have met some great mentors and friends along the way who are always there to provide guidance and support.

Tell us about balancing your private work with corporate and business entities and your work with public agencies.

We have a diverse practice representing all types of clients, from Fortune 100 corporations and large public entities to mid-size businesses and individuals. There is no set formula for balancing between types of clients, as it depends more on the timing of incoming requests. Ultimately, we work with clients that we want to represent and take on cases that we find interesting and where we can add value. Regardless of whether they are a Fortune 100 Company, a public entity, or an aggrieved individual, they can trust that they will get our most creative, responsive, and effective legal team handling their matter.

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