Langston is a LEAP mentor and dedicated public servant. Learn more about his background and his desire to give back to the community.
Twenty years ago, I embarked on the journey to law school. After late nights waiting tables, I spent the remaining hours reading magazine articles with confusing and competing views about how to select a law school and researching various programs. I often asked my attorney customers about their day-to-day responsibilities and how they chose their areas of law. They seemed more than happy to share their insight. I knew that one day if I was fortunate enough to complete my journey, I would want to help clarify those questions for others choosing a path in the law.
In 2005, I started my legal career as a plaintiff’s attorney handling toxic tort matters. I represented dozens of consumers against product manufacturers in personal injury and wrongful death cases, usually involving exposure to asbestos-containing products. I took each and every case to heart and made their success my priority. As my clients reaped the rewards of my hard work, I felt the blunt impact of the consequences: I worked long hours and spent several late nights at the office; I lived out of a suitcase as I traveled the country on a weekly basis; I missed several birthdays for friends and family members – including my own; I gained weight as I ate freely on the company card. Despite the deep commitment I felt for my clients and others like them, it was time for a change.
Around June 2009, I was informed about an opportunity to work for the State of California Office of the Attorney General in the Civil Division of the Licensing Section, a unit that represents dozens of boards, bureaus and agencies in professional license disciplinary actions. Representing licensing boards against the acts of unscrupulous, deceitful and unprofessional licensees seemed like the perfect match for my skills and values. The impact of my work would not only echo through the halls and corridors of a private practice, but throughout the State of California. I could be instrumental in providing redress to consumers and the public-at-large all while maintaining a balanced personal/social life.
More than 10 years later, I remain with the Attorney General’s Office and am still so grateful for the opportunity to serve the public. I have helped hundreds of consumers obtain financial redress for their grievances against shoddy, fly-by-night home contractors. I have shut down a fraudulent nursing school and obtained over 1.2M in financial restitution for more than 100 student victims. I successfully prosecuted an excessive billing case brought by the Board of Pharmacy, a matter recently affirmed by an appellate court. And despite the significant work done by our office, I can continue to lead a balanced personal and social life. That is why I continue to choose work in the public sector and specifically with the Office of the Attorney General.
When I was approached to become a LEAP mentor, I knew that this would be my opportunity to pay my knowledge and experience forward and serve as a resource for another. Specifically, I understood the responsibility, honor and privilege it would be to be assist someone, who like me, faced disadvantages relating to information and cultural access about what it means to be a lawyer. Whether it was helping in the analysis of making school choices, sharing my thoughts about important legal skill sets, or simply being able to lend a listening ear, it has been a pleasure and honor to help my mentee as she conquered the challenges of the application process and rigorously prepared for mock trial. Most importantly, I know that I have formed a lasting relationship and forged community with members of the program. And so, what I gained most from my experience with LEAP was not necessarily what it provided to me, but what I was finally able to provide to another.