Editor's note: Robert Retana joined the State Bar's Office of General Counsel in February and was promoted to deputy general counsel in August. Psyche Pascual of the Bar Journal talked with Retana about his background and motivation for becoming second in command of the agency's legal department. This is an edited version of the interview.
What attracted you to the State Bar?
Robert Retana: I was interested in doing some sort of work that included service to the public, and I liked the State Bar's mission, which is protection of the public, ensuring that legal services provided to them are not just adequate but actually good legal representation. It combines a lot of areas that I 'm interested in. Working with board members, the executive staff and the various committees and different parts of the bar that we provide advice to. It's a very interesting mix of work that you get to do here at the Office of the General Counsel.
Is there a particular part of your job that you like best?
I like interacting with our clients and helping them resolve issues that come up. Trying to learn the various parts of the bar, all the various functions of the bar, what they do and then trying to help them.
The bar's under scrutiny. How does that affect your work?
It's a really interesting time. As a lawyer you always want to have a client that has interesting issues to work on. Now is an interesting time to be at the bar with everything that's going on. And hopefully as deputy general counsel one of the things that I can try to do is help work through some of the issues that have occurred in the past and try to help the staff improve those areas where we need improvement, but also highlight the good things that the bar does and help get that message across that we also do lot of things here that are beneficial and help members of the community.
You had long stints in government jobs, including the DA's office, where you were an assistant district attorney.
The area that I had worked on, at least towards the end of my time at the DA's office, was domestic violence. So I 've done many domestic violence cases, including an attempted murder domestic violence case. I really liked working with the victims and helping them to understand what their rights are, and how the system can protect them. It's very challenging because obviously it's a very emotional type of case, and the victims are often very reluctant to testify. I found it really rewarding and really interesting to try to help people in a very real way using the court system, which most people find very intimidating, to help them hopefully exit from an abusive relationship.
When a victim was reluctant to testify or file a charge, what would...