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Focused On Families

Ben Aguilar Helps Couples Dissolving Marriages

Keep Their Focus On Their Children

“My parents separated when I was a teenager. I was pretty lucky that they worked hard to never expose me to the court system during their separation and eventually their divorce. As a family law attorney, I see many parents lose sight of what is really important for their children,” says Ben Aguilar, Founder of The Law Offices of Ben Aguilar in San Diego and El Centro.

Yet Aguilar never intended to become an attorney. As an undergrad at UC Irvine, he indulged in his passion for art and travel. “I was initially an art history major,” he says. “During my third year in college I decided to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for an entire year because I wanted to travel and see all of the great works of art I had only seen in textbooks. During that year, I visited 18 countries and I saw many of my favorite art masterpieces, including The David in Florence, Italy,” Aguilar says.

Yet, an experience totally outside of the realm of art history would prove to have a lasting impact, and change his career plans. “I got an email from the study abroad program director with various internship opportunities. I went down the list and noticed that the Spanish Department of Justice had 2 openings for foreign students. I started interning for the Justice Department, where I was assigned to the domestic violence/ sexual crimes department. I was exposed to horrific stories of abuse, neglect and violence. Working with victims and perpetrators was very eye-opening and sparked my interest in pursuing a legal education. Before this experience I had never considered becoming an attorney. I always knew that I wanted to do something that allowed me to have a direct impact on people’s lives—social worker, teacher, professor—but I never thought it would be as an attorney,” he says with a laugh.

ON THE RISE

Aguilar consequently graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2011 where he was the President of the International Law Society. He took his first associate position with a personal injury/worker’s compensation firm. “It was not for me. I knew I wanted to help families,” he says.

Interestingly, right around the same time, several of Aguilar’s friends from law school also found themselves wanting to venture out on their own in their preferred areas of law. “There were about 8 of us who all wanted to open our own firms, so we bounced ideas off of each other, stuck together, supported each other, and did it,” he says. Thus in November of 2012, Aguilar opened The Law Offices of Ben Aguilar.

“I decided to focus on serving families because I came from a divided household and I truly wish all parents were as reasonable as mine were,” Aguilar says. His first clients came to him as the result of referrals from his network of law school friends, and as the result of Aguilar’s tireless involvement in the San Diego Legal Community. By way of example, he currently serves on the Board of Directors for Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumni Association; New Lawyer Division of the San Diego County Bar Association; San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association and as the CFO for the Tom Homann LGBT Bar Association. Aguilar also serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization, No Silence No Violence.

With a business built on referrals, Aguilar knows it is up to him to provide the service and skills that will keep referring attorneys sending clients his way. “I have always been very disciplined when it comes to my work ethic. Even though I am my own boss, I hold myself accountable, I have a work schedule and I am borderline OCD when it comes to organizing my daily planner. Other attorneys in the community make fun of me because I am ‘old-school’ and keep a paper planner instead of solely relying on my iPhone,” he laughs.

But organization and discipline are just the basics, according to Aguilar. What really earns the trust and respect of his clients is his incredible attention to their needs, and his dedication to helping families to learn to cooperate during the break up of a marriage.

"MY CLIENTS GET PERSONALIZED ATTENTION
FROM THE MOMENT THEY WALK IN THE DOOR."
PRACTICE PRINCIPLES

“My clients get personalized attention from the moment they walk in the door. I share with my clients a bit about my background and why I do what I do every day. It really helps them to open up and trust me. My typical client is in high distress when he/she comes to me because there has been a separation or an event that has triggered the need to file for divorce, child custody, or requires a temporary restraining order,” he says.

Continuing, he adds, “I work with families to try to come to an agreement out of court instead of litigating a case for months or years. I believe in a cooperative approach. At the end of the day, these are the happiest clients. Unfortunately, many parents forget about what is in the best interest of their children and put their own personal vendettas ahead of their own children’s welfare.”

That’s precisely why Aguilar keeps a copy of his favorite book, The Little Prince by Antoine Saint Exupery on his desk. “I keep it for those difficult days and as a reminder that things happen for a reason. One of my favorite quotes from the book is ‘Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.’” Aguilar says, “I see all the time in divorces, grownups really do not understand the emotional and psychological needs of their children, so I try to help with that.”

Though a full 80% of Aguilar’s caseload involves divorces and child custody issues, he does take selected immigration law cases, wherein he can serve as an advocate to bring families together. “I don’t do a lot of immigration law, but I will take on cases where a family has a chance of being united. I like bringing families together, so I’ll handle spouse petitions, or international LGBT couples cases that can proceed now that Prop 8 was defeated, and key parts of DOMA were struck down” he says. “I work with so many families that are breaking up, it’s nice to offset that with bringing people together,” he adds.

As far as the future is concerned for Aguilar, his star has frankly only just begun to shine. But he considers himself incredibly fortunate for the success he’s already experienced. “I work hard and sleep little but I love everything I do. I always tell friends and family that I am the luckiest person alive because I have been blessed with incredible role models, fantastic mentors and very inspiring professors. I am in private practice, but I am very active in the community and try to find ways to give back,” he says. “I’m fortunate to have been able to go to law school and hold a professional license that can change lives in a very significant way. I do believe it is possible for broken families to move forward in a respectful and dignified way,” he says. As for moving forward personally, Aguilar is planning to open additional offices in Orange County and Riverside in the coming years, but only so long as he can continue to provide compassionate, expert advocacy and mediation skills. “I want my business to continue growing, but I will remain committed to what brought me to this profession—I want to continue doing good for others.


 Contact:

Ben Aguilar
The Law Offices of Ben Aguilar
www.benaguilarlaw.com
info@BenAguilarLaw.com
619-752-0125
707 Broadway, Suite 700
San Diego, CA 92101

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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