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Rising Star of the Month

Fierce Passion
Leads to Success

“I believe that if you work hard enough that you will succeed. I hear people—all the time—saying that they hate their jobs and that ‘work is not supposed to be fun.’ I don’t ever see it like that. We live in a world where we are in control of our own destiny. No one can get in the way of that, and nothing ever should. I believe if someone wants something bad enough, then they should go for it, and not let any obstacles stand in their way,” says Alex Ozols, criminal defense attorney. “I love what I do,” he adds with a smile.
For Ozols, those convictions have certainly come to pass. “I have wanted to be an attorney my entire life. I am from Vancouver, British Columbia and since I was a young kid, I had always told people I was going to be a lawyer in California. I always knew, and I had a goal from a very young age. I just had to take the steps to get there,” he explains.
For Ozols, taking the steps means giving his heart and soul to whatever is placed before him. For example, he took multiple unpaid internships with various law firms while in college. “I did everything that I was asked to do, and I always tried to exceed expectations by doing more than was asked of me,” he says. The internships played a pivotal role in helping Ozols narrow down the field of law in which he would ultimately specialize by showing him how badly people need competent defense attorneys.
“I remember interning at the public defender’s office. A girl sat in front of us talking about her case. She was facing prostitution charges; she was a repeat offender and she was only 19 years old. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Where did this girl go wrong? Does she not have family? What happened in her life that she is now willing to sell herself, and subject herself to danger?’ I felt so bad for her, and it changed the way I thought about people,” he says. “I wanted to help her.”

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A second landmark in Ozols’ early legal work further confirmed that Ozols was destined for a career in criminal defense. “I worked for an Innocence Project, where I met people who had been wrongfully convicted. Specifically, I met one man who had sat in prison for 19 years before he was exonerated. I talked with his attorney, who had been working on his case for probably at least 15 years. I asked him how he could have worked on the case that long. It seemed to me like he had dedicated his life to this man. All that had mattered to that attorney was that he believed in his client. It was a powerful moment for me, and I hope that at some point in my career I can help someone like that,” Ozols says.
With a commitment to succeeding no matter how hard he must work, and a fierce passion for defending those who need his help, it is no surprise that Ozol’s star continues to rise as a criminal defense and trial attorney in the San Diego legal community. He has closed more than 130 cases in the last year, and taken more than a dozen to trial. “I will go to trial on anything. All I need are the facts, and I am there,” he says. “If anyone feels like they have been wronged by the system, or they need help, or they need equal representation, I am there for them, and I will do whatever it takes to help them. I never ever want to see an innocent person go to jail.”
As the result of Ozol’s seemingly unending drive, he’s been involved in extraordinarily challenging cases, and won them. “I have worked on cases where people are facing 10 life sentences, Federal Cases with large amounts of local publicity, multiple co- defendant felony cases, and an immense number of DUI cases. I have appeared in courthouses in LA, El Centro, Murrieta, Temecula, Santa Barbara, Newport, Westminster, and every single courthouse in San Diego,” he adds.
He attributes his success so early in his career in part to his education. “I have a degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, and I am so proud of that. UBC often ranks in the top 30 in the world. People underestimate how much psychology plays in our profession. Every interaction in criminal defense involves considering the psychological effect of the situation. Trial is like a psychological chess game; you always need to stay one step ahead of your opponent. There are twelve jurors and you have to convince them you are right. You need to think about the way you speak, look, and act. Every mannerism, every movement you make is important,” Ozols says.
However, he points out that his background would only have carried him so far. The other reasons for his success include treating his clients with respect and having a sense of humor. “I try to connect with my clients in a personal way. They are human beings and they deserve my respect. I do not talk down to them,” he says. Equally as important for Ozols is maintaining levity in the notoriously adversarial field of criminal law. “I do my best to use humor to lighten the mood, and I always have fun in what I do. If I didn’t, I would hate my job. It has paid off as it has been a huge relationship builder, a great ice breaker and a great way for people to really take the barrier down, relax and open up,” he adds.

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Yet, he is also quick to give credit to others for helping him to achieve such marked success so early in his career. “Some people are afraid to ask for help. I don’t know what the reason is, but that’s not the way to do it. I always ask other attorneys for help. I never think that I know it all, and I reach out to people who are experts in their areas. I have learned more from my colleagues here in San Diego than any law school could have taught me in a lifetime,” Ozols says.
As far as the future is concerned, Ozols knows he’s just barely scratched the surface, but envisions a career wherein he can ultimately “work on some of the biggest cases in Southern California.” He says, “For me, it has never been about money, prestige or any of that. I honestly just want to help people and I want to love what I do. I don’t ever want to be the guy who worked 15 hour days, but hated his life. In five years, I hope to be able to choose my clients, and go in there and fight as hard as I can for the ones that I choose.”

Contact:

Alex Ozols

Ozols Law Firm

ozolslawfirm@gmail.com

www.thesandiegocriminallawyer.com

619-288 -8357

Karen Gorden

Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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About the Author: Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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