Steven C. Dimick, Attorney at Law, has been practicing in Alameda County ever since he was admitted to the bar in 1979. Over the years, he has practiced in a wide range of legal areas, including criminal law, corporate law, conservatorships, and family law. Today, his Livermore-based practice focuses on estate planning and probate, as well as select matters in real estate, business, and personal injury.
When did you know you wanted to become a lawyer?
I started out in life as a newspaper reporter and editor. My wife and I moved to the Bay Area and I couldn’t find a newspaper job, so I ended up in public relations. I hated it. One evening I was pacing the floor, bemoaning my life and my wife said, “When we were in college, you occasionally talked about maybe going to law school. Why don’t you think more about that?”
Bingo! That’s it! Silly me, the next day I called up the best law school in the area and asked about an application.
“Have you taken the LSAT?” asked the woman on the phone.
“What’s that?” She explained what it was and said there was only one more test scheduled in time for enrollment in the fall. Unfortunately, it was already full with other applications. But if I walked in with a $20 bill and if they had an empty seat, I could take the test.
That September, I started school at Boalt Hall.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be doing instead?
I would probably still be in journalism. I fantasize that I would have eventually landed a job on the Chronicle.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first admitted to practice?
A couple of things that are vaguely related. First, it’s OK not to know everything. Whether you’re dealing with a client, another attorney, or a judge, “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer and is not a sign of weakness. Second, there’s always an attorney who knows more than you do, no matter how good you think you are and no matter what the subject.
What is the biggest challenge facing you as a lawyer today?
Judges. Far too many of them come out of the DA’s office and carry that mentality with them no matter what their judicial assignment may be.
What is your favorite part of being a lawyer?
I’m sure my answer is the same as most attorneys: helping people. They come to me either in trouble or with a big (to them) problem and I’m actually able to do something about it.
What is your dream vacation?
Three or four months in Europe with a rented car. I’ve done it twice before, but it’s been a long time. Probably the first two weeks and the last two weeks would be in Paris, the most marvelous city in the world. Herb Caen wrote that, “Everybody should be allowed two favorite cities, his own and San Francisco.” I would change that to “his own and Paris.”
What are you reading now?
“Lawrence in Arabia” by Scott Anderson. It’s a bit more than just the Peter O’Toole part of the story. It’s T. E. Lawrence and other European operatives (on both sides of the power struggle) trying to manipulate events in the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
Because I have a pretty fair education, seem to be such a California kid, am socially and politically quite liberal, and speak proper and (I hope) unaccented English, I think (or, again, hope) that folks would be surprised to learn that I was born and raised in Oklahoma and didn’t leave there permanently until I was 26.
What person, living or dead, real or fictional, would you like to have dinner with?
George Jacques Danton, one of the leaders of the French Revolution. He did have some blood on his hands, but he loved his country deeply, was instrumental in founding the Republic, and uttered two of my favorite quotes. When Paris was under attack he proclaimed, “L’audace, l’audace, toujours de l’audace et Paris est sauvee.” (Audacity, more audacity, always audacity and Paris will be saved.) His most astute quote on revolution was, “In revolutions, authority remains with the greatest scoundrels.” We could all learn from that.
Can you tell that I’m a history buff?
Why did you decide to be an ACBA member? What is the greatest benefit of membership?
I became a member of the ACBA for a number of reasons. To meet other attorneys. To meet other attorneys who would allow me to pick their brains. Because most of the top attorneys were already members and obviously they had good reasons. Because of the services provided, such as the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) and Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (VLSC).
I’ve met other attorneys. I’ve met other attorneys who allowed me to pick their brains. I’ve met a lot of the top attorneys. I’ve used, and benefitted from, the LRS and VLSC. What more could I expect?