Top Lawyers: James Hoover of ‘Hoover Krepelka’ On The 5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law

An Interview With Chere Estrin

Chere Estrin
Authority Magazine

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COVID has been a loss — of life, of liberty, of economics, of relationships. Because of same, divorce rates and domestic violence have increased in unprecedented levels placing great demand on family law attorneys and staff and court operations. Much if not all court involvement is via remote access, and very likely will continue to be. It has been difficult for clients, counsel and courts, yet we will all preserve when we focus on kindness, sympathy and respect.

The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law”, we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing James J. Hoover, Esq.

James J. Hoover, Esq., is partner and owner of Hoover Krepelka, LLP, an 18 attorney, 22 staff family law firm located in San Jose, California. Hoover Krepelka, LLP, addresses all aspects of divorce: domestic violence, custody and timeshare of children, asset and debt division, support and related matters. A certified family law specialist with nearly 20 years of family law experience, Mr. Hoover is proud to be part of a firm which focuses on employee and client diversity, work-life balance, and clients’ needs.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?

My father, Robert Hoover — a pioneer and leader in family law since 1960 whose compassion and excellence touched thousands of people — sparked my interest in family law. If I am half the attorney he was and remains, I would consider myself successful.

Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?

The focus of each of the 18 attorneys at Hoover Krepelka, LLP, is to educate, advocate and act in our clients’ best interests with respect to all aspects of family law: domestic violence, custody and timeshare of children, asset and debt identification, characterization, valuation and division, spousal and child support and related matters.

You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I’ve learned that kindness, sympathy and respect to anyone — a client, opposing party, opposing counsel or a judge — can mean and achieve a lot more than the application of law to facts.

Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?

Our firm has been very fortunate. As to luck, I find that opportunity is everywhere, and “chance favors the prepared mind”.

Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?

I value my experience at Santa Clara University School of Law. I find a law school’s diversity is more important than prestige. Our 18 attorneys graduated from a diverse spectrum of law schools which reflect the personal life experiences of our clients.

Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?

I would not go back in time and speak to myself. I am concerned that teleportation via quantum physics would have an adverse effect on how great my personal and professional life is now.

This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?

My primary motivation is educating those less fortunate in a family law crisis, and learning from them at the same time.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Unfortunately for the reader, most if not all of my most interesting or exciting projects are protected by the attorney-client privilege!

Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?

My continual combined goals are meeting clients’ needs, sustainable firm growth and quality of our 40 employees’ lives.

Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story”? Can you share the funniest?

The best part of my job is working with so many people who are more intelligent and progressive thinking than me, and getting out of their way. I do not have all the answers and I’m always willing to learn from others.

Ok, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?

Our firm prides itself on maintaining the largest physical law firm in California — a brand new concierge-level 12,000 square foot office in downtown San Jose– while still allowing nearly all of our employees to work fully remote. Our employees have the flexibility and accommodations to experience the best of both worlds.

How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?

COVID has been a loss — of life, of liberty, of economics, of relationships. Because of same, divorce rates and domestic violence have increased in unprecedented levels placing great demand on family law attorneys and staff and court operations. Much if not all court involvement is via remote access, and very likely will continue to be. It has been difficult for clients, counsel and courts, yet we will all preserve when we focus on kindness, sympathy and respect.

We often hear about the importance of networking and getting referrals. Is this still true today? Has the nature of networking changed or has its importance changed? Can you explain what you mean?

Networking and obtaining referrals remains as important now as in the past; however, the methods have changed insofar that remote access via internet, websites, social media, and online reviews have become more important than the “let’s do lunch” type of networking of pre-COVID era.

Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?

I find social media to be not as effective as a high quality website and high quality referral group, and I recommend the latter two approaches.

Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.

The top 5 things you need to know to become a top lawyer in family law:

  1. Be kind, be sympathetic, be respectful.
  2. Education, advocacy and acting in a client’s best interests is a ven diagram.
  3. Go out there and make some mistakes, and learn from them.
  4. It is more important to issue spot than know the right answer.
  5. Always say yes to networking and referral opportunities.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I would love to have lunch with any one of our many tireless, compassionate family law judges.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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Chere Estrin
Authority Magazine

Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing.