2021 Legal Awards Honorees: Javier J. Rodriguez and Angela C. De Cespedes

Meet Javier J. Rodriguez and Angela C. De Cespedes, Partners at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr

“As a youth, I developed an interest in being a trial lawyer from watching TV shows,” says Rodriguez. “Then, in the summer of 1979, when I was 14 years old, a high-profile criminal trial was taking place in Miami, and was in the news every day. The defendant was Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer. I was working with my father that summer, and one day instead of going to work I went to the courthouse to watch the trial. I sat in the third row, immediately behind the defendant, and observed an entire day of the proceedings. What most struck me that day was the defense lawyers’ impressive cross-examination of the state’s witnesses. I left the courthouse knowing I had found my calling and determined to become a trial lawyer. I never wavered from this path. To this day, cross-examination is my favorite part of a trial.”

“I don’t know very many 5-year-olds that could sit quietly for hours watching episodes of Perry Mason and Matlock, but I remember being fascinated by the concept that things are usually not what they appear to be at first blush, and the research and investigation that followed in order to come as close as possible to piecing together the truth – and even then reconciling that it is still subjective and malleable,” Cespedes says. “An endeavor that requires a heightened sense of intuition, keen observations of human behavior and environment, attention to detail typically overlooked by others, tenacity and the ability to maintain an open mind – all qualities which I have always valued. In addition, from a very young age I have always been drawn to and felt the need to intervene when I perceived an injustice, not only to reconcile the immediate concern, but also in an attempt to “fix” the situation that led to it so it does not repeat itself. All of these qualities are imperative when practicing law, and every now and again, when I need a little inspiration, a couple of classic episodes of Perry Mason or Matlock will still do the trick.”

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