Born in England, educated just outside of London, and then in Miami, Elliot Silver came to Alameda County and opened a successful law practice. Hear all about his travels and adventures and his unique family history.
A transcript of this podcast is available.
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Attorney at Law
Elliot Silver Transcript
[00:00:00] Louis Goodman: Hello, and welcome to love by lawyer. Where we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law,
Louis Goodman: how they got to be lawyers and what their experience has been. I'm Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I'm a lawyer. Nobody's perfect today. We're happy to welcome. Elliot Silver to love thy lawyer.
Elliot's an attorney who was originally from England and he's been practicing law in Alameda County Elliott. Good to have you.
Elliot Silver: Thanks a lot. Lou, how you doing? I'm well,
Louis Goodman: Elliot, why don't you start off by telling us where your office is located?
Elliot Silver: My office is in Oakland, on the Embarcadero, pretty close to harvest side.
Louis Goodman: What kind of practice do you have?
Elliot Silver: Yeah, it's primarily a criminal defense. That's pretty much the bulk of our [00:01:00] work. we also do some, personal injury and, some civil forfeiture. so, but pretty much I say 90%, 95% criminal law.
Louis Goodman: Now, when you say we, do you have other attorneys that you work with?
Elliot Silver: Yeah, I've got to give a shout out to my, a trusted colleague, Tom McMann. Who's an absolute genius. I could not do this practice without him. Cause he kind of fills in all the soft spots that I have. I'm not, I'm not, I never was probably never will be a legal genius. but he is, he does all my research and writing and he handles all the, you know, a lot of heavy cases.
so Tom McMains, the man,
Louis Goodman: well, we'll have to get them on the pod one of these days.
Elliot Silver: Definitely.
Louis Goodman: How long have you been practicing?
Elliot Silver: funnily enough in July, this year, July 5th is going to be my 25th anniversary of being a lawyer.
Louis Goodman: As of the 4th of July.
Elliot Silver: Yeah, exactly. If the fifth, but [00:02:00] close enough, close enough.
Louis Goodman: Now, where are you from originally?
Elliot Silver: I
Louis Goodman: note a slight accent.
Elliot Silver: Yeah. I was born and raised basically in the suburbs of London in England. I I'm what you call an Essex boy. And if you want to Google that we have a certain reputation. If you will.
Louis Goodman: Well, what are the boys like at the Chigwell school?
Elliot Silver: How did you know when to Chigwell school?
yeah, well Chigwell school, right now it's actually coed, but when I was going there, it was an old boys’ school and it's sort of a typical British or boys school used to wear a uniform. And
Louis Goodman: now did you do your O levels and a levels and that sort of thing there?
Elliot Silver: Yeah, I actually left England, right before I was supposed to do our levels.
I left England, when I was almost 13, going into what would be considered sort of the middle, the middle school. my parents moved to [00:03:00] Florida. because they thought that that was going to be the land of opportunity. the sun, we had come on a holiday, my parents had four kids. They brought us out here for a holiday to Florida.
And my dad told me that we had such a great time that he thought that's what life is like, we're going to America.
Louis Goodman: What was that experience like?
Elliot Silver: Well, I, I just, my personality, I kind of, I'm kind of blended in pretty easily. My sister had a bit more of a hard time, but my personality is sort of gregarious.
So I, I had no problem. I blended in, I made good friends and it is all kind of like a bit of an adventure
Louis Goodman: for me. Is that where you graduated from high school?
Elliot Silver: Yeah, I went to Spanish river high school, graduated, 1987.
Louis Goodman: And then where did you go?
Elliot Silver: I went to the university of Miami. I actually was supposed to, go up North.
I was accepted to university of Pennsylvania. but I was only [00:04:00] 16 when I was going to college. Well, yeah, my parents, they kind of talked me out of it. so I went to university of Miami, which was a, yeah, it was a good school. It was certainly no Ivy league school. but I went, I went there four years, undergrad.
I went there for law school as well. I just stayed.
Louis Goodman: And how was that whole experience at the university of Miami?
Elliot Silver: It was, it was cool. I mean, it was quite frankly, it was a lot of partying, so I didn't really know any different, I didn't really explore anything else. You know, I went, I went to college with the expectation of going to law school and I, you know, I was a history, major communication and political science, all the typical law school stuff.
So I didn't really. I wouldn't say it was my own personal choice. It was just kind of something that was always told to me, this is what you're going to be.
Louis Goodman: So, what was your first legal job?
Elliot Silver: my first job was actually, I did a, I suppose you'd call it a [00:05:00] clerkship for a judge in Florida. His name was judge Rappaport.
but it wasn't, it was kind of unofficial. he was working out of his home. In fact, I don't actually think he may have even been a judge. He, he just called himself. Judge Rappaport. and he had me doing legal, you know, just filing and research and stuff like that. I was just kind of this Vivian, he was sort of an old decrepit, grumpy.
I, it didn't really Dawn on me. There's unfortunately had a lot of lawyers end up, but, it was, it was interesting. I was very young and, it was, it was kind of, it was kind of cool, but my first real legal job was public defender, which, that was in Miami Dade. And it was absolutely incredible experience.
It was just incredible being a young, you know, I graduated from law school and went right into the public defender's office. I had done an internship there, with, with one of my friends. Just the minute, the doors open. So the jail, [00:06:00] what you do is you go for an orientation the first day, they tell you what it's going to be like and stuff.
And then the second day you're in the jail and the minute the doors open, it was like a rush of adrenaline. For me, I'm seeing these people and I, I just had this, this, this sort of like, she got to help these people. It was, it was just a natural thing for me. And, that was the internship. And then I did good work there and they, they really liked me as a person.
So when I graduated from law school, they offered me the job. And I, that was my first real legal job. I was there for about five years.
Louis Goodman: So you took the bar in Florida and then later you. Took the bar in California.
Elliot Silver: Yeah. I took the bar in Florida in 94 when I graduated. And, I didn't say in California, but so about 2013 and I've kind of had a, I don't know how, what you would call it, but sort of.
Interesting meandering [00:07:00] path, through, through life. I've been very, so situated the past, seven years. But before that I was traveling a lot in that I was living in New York. I did a.com a company up in New York for a little bit. I did some real estate. Yeah. Some non-non-law related type of activities.
But always, always have my, my law degree and I always came in handy for whatever I was doing.
Louis Goodman: So when did you decide to come to California?
Elliot Silver: I wanted to come to California, actually for law school. I was accepted to, McGeorge in Sacramento and, I actually remember it very vividly. Again, I was young. I was, I was 20 years old.
And, my parents, you know, were kind of footing the bill for me. I remember vividly sitting around the dinner table. I had the Sacramento bee, I think it was, and I was looking at apartments and my mother goes to me in a very proper English accent. [00:08:00] She goes Elliot what'd you want to go to Sacramento for, to follow that ban the grateful dead.
So my, so my, my parents, they wouldn't, they wouldn't pay for me to go to California because they knew I was, you know, Kind of like, you know, it was 20 years old having a good time. So, so they, they said, well, you know, we'll, we'll send you to university of Miami. We know where you are. so that was it.
Yeah. So it's a university of Miami.
Louis Goodman: What do you really like about practicing law?
Elliot Silver: I'd say a, you know, two things really. first of all, I do like to help people. I think it's in my nature, to help people and, you know, there's a sense of satisfaction, you know, when you get. You know, you get a big smile from somebody at the end of these cases and you get a thank you.
I mean, there are a lot of people that are ungrateful, you know, I don't do this work for the thanks because, you know, that's just ridiculous. But you know, when you get that, thank you, you get a [00:09:00] smile and you get to help someone out and how that family, for me, you know, that's a great sense of that distraction.
Cause I I've been. Yeah, I'm grateful for everything that I've got. Some people are not as fortunate, so I'm happy to help those people out. The other thing is I love to stick it to the man. You know, I think, Alameda in particularly you don't get to do that too much. It's kind of a kind of congenial co-operative.
I don't get to fight with prosecutors too much. Cause to me that doesn't seem a good, a good route of a. Getting what you want. but I, when I practiced in Miami, it was the opposite. It was kind of more like Santa Clara. When you know, everything's a war, every single thing is a war. So we used to, we used to love sticking it to the man, man.
Louis Goodman: Is there anything that you don't like about practicing
Elliot Silver: law? I did find it kind of stressful. quite frankly, I, you know, I I've in my older years now, I'm going to be 50 in October and, you know, my [00:10:00] nose and not what they used to be. The, the stress of it, I think is, is pretty heavy. I'm still fearless, you know, back in the, back in the public defendant days, they used to call me long shanks, who was the King of England.
He was known to be fearless in battle, and I still have that kind of fearlessness. But, the, the stress I think is, is its kind of weighs on you after a while.
Louis Goodman: Yeah. W would you recommend it to a young person who was thinking about it as a career choice?
Elliot Silver: I, I always, it's a good question. Cause people have asked me, I think if you're going to be a lawyer, you got to really think about if that's what you really, really want to do
Louis Goodman: it.
Shouldn't I agree. I agree. Yeah.
Elliot Silver: It's it shouldn't be something like, Oh, let me choose a job and just be a lawyer, I think. Yeah. If you, if you don't enjoy and I still do enjoy it, I really, you know, like I like helping people to me, it's quite entertaining actually the stories and, but, I think if you, if it's [00:11:00] not something that we really, really want to do and it'll, it'll chew you up, you know, it's very stressful in LA, you know, I work long hours.
I'll probably work about a hundred hours a week. I know most people that are there. Don't, I'm kind of crazy like that, but I do about a hundred hours a week.
Louis Goodman: I was actually practicing law, met or different from your expectations.
Elliot Silver: well, I I'd say, you know, when I was younger, I was pretty idealistic. I still have those kind of idealistic nature of the way things should turn out, but I've also discovered that, you know, we're, we're part of a system, That, you know, you can't even really beat the system, you know, as much as you try and as much as you can, you know, one case at a time, you probably can get good results, but by and large, you know, I've been watching the news and you know, the protests and, Brandon Woods, you know, he's awesome.
He's, he's out there doing it. So I think if you, if you have a collective. power, you know, like the public defenders do I think, yeah, you can, you can fairly be the system, but, you know, as a sort [00:12:00] of individual, it's very difficult to kind of, change things. You can just change one case at a time. And I think that's a, that's kind of what I try to do.
Louis Goodman: Well, tell me about a case that went well for you.
Elliot Silver: Well, I tried a case down in, Palo Alto, not too long ago, you know, a couple of years ago where it was a, a guy had just come from India and he was on a dependent visa and he, his wife was at work. He's kind of sitting at home and he sees a beautiful girl go by the window.
And each day he sort of watches a go by same time and he's sort of quirky in the he's sort of slowly falling in love with her from a farm. And he finally gets up the courage to go out and, and, and talk to her and he's chatting her up and she discloses that she's underage and he in a very kind and apologetic way.
motion to, to give her a hug, you know, so I gave her a hug, turns [00:13:00] out the girl was the niece of the chief of police of mountain view. So she went home and complained and they, you know, they think he's a sexual predator and they, the, the police, you know, they set up a state and they swarmed him and they took him in, And the, the, you know, they wouldn't give him a battery, which is what it was, it was unwanted touching.
It wasn't sexual in any, any way. So I told the prosecutor, I says, look, you know, you're going to end up with nothing. I, we went to trial in the middle of the trial and I kind of knew it was going well. And the judge brings us back, you know, and I said to the prosecutor said, give me the battery now, you know, in the middle of trial.
Right. And she goes, no, you know, I said, well, cause it's not actually a lesser included offense. Believe it or not. And then the judge, the judge wouldn't give the instruction. Cause it's not official, lesser included. We took it all away and we got not guilty and it was great. Cause his wife was pregnant.
And the guy would have been deported, had we had lost. So it was, it was a great victory. it was only a misdemeanor. It [00:14:00] was, you know, those, those kinds of things really sit very well with me. when, you know, it could have been resolved, you know, we didn't have to go to trial. If they just offered what it, what it was, you know, it was just a battery, but then because of the, the bullheadedness of that particular, district attorney's office, then again, nothing, you know, and I felt great about
Louis Goodman: that.
What about the business of practicing law? Obviously you are in practice for yourself. You've had some success how's that gone for you and you know, where do you get cases from and what do you attribute your business success to?
Elliot Silver: Well, I've always been a businessman. I've been an entrepreneur. I never had a regular job.
until I moved out here, I had a, I worked at a law office four years. even as a public defendant, you're pretty much kind of on your own. I'm independent, I'm in a group, you know, they let us make our own hours and stuff, which was cool. So I've always had kind of a, isn't a sense [00:15:00] of how to, how to bring people in through the door and, you know, I mean, just get him, you know, it's a salesy kind of thing, but not, not disingenuous.
I get, I really, from my parents, my parents were shop owners in England. They had pharmacies and, you know, they knew how to treat customers. Right. And, and, and yeah. I, you know, I'm, I'm lucky that I'm in a position where I can have a good business. I get pretty much, most of my cases off the internet, some word of mouth.
Obviously as repeat customers, you know, they get frequent flyer miles, but mostly off the internet. and I kind of learned the language of the internet, the language of marketing, through that. I, I don't do it myself. I have a guy that does it, but I understand the way, the way it works. I understand the language.
Louis Goodman: What, if anything, would you change about the way the legal system works?
Elliot Silver: Well, I think the cards are stacked against people that don't have money. I mean, let's face it, you know, people that don't [00:16:00] have money. and the, I mean, I, I was a public defender. I love the public defenders. I think most of the public defenders are actually the best lawyers in the courtroom.
number one, cause it's a pure practice. They're not concerned with, with, you know, getting the money. They're concerned only with doing a good job. and then, and you know, from what I've seen, you know, the public defenders, not all, but most of probably the best lawyers in the courtroom and, it's just, they're overworked, you know, they don't have, they don't have a time to spend, you know, if you have a hundred cases, You know, they probably have more than they really, they probably have a hundred a week.
Right. So, you know, if, if I, I always thought if I ever made enough money to be a great philanthropist, that I would set up a, another public defender's office for free, like a private public defender's office. For free, you know, sponsored by Elliot silver, just to, I don't know how it would work and illegally or whatever, but, I think the cards are stacked against people that don't have money.
And it's, it's kind of [00:17:00] sad.
Louis Goodman: Do you think that the system is basically fair?
Elliot Silver: I think that by and large, when we talk about, you know, the crime and punishment, Yeah, I know it differs from County to County. And that's kind of unusual to me. It's, it's it doesn't make sense. You know, if you, if you do something as San Francisco and then you cross the line to San Mateo, you know, you're going to get triple damage.
Right. But I think by and large, you know, over my 25 years now, I've found that people generally get, you know, just, just punishment.
Louis Goodman: How about your family life? I know that you, have children.
Elliot Silver: Yeah.
Louis Goodman: It's a little bit about that.
Elliot Silver: Yeah, so I, I live alone with my 11-year-old, beautiful, gorgeous, incredible daughter.
And her name is Sydney. And, I had her on my own since she was three years old. her mother unfortunately passed away, in Florida. [00:18:00] Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it’s a sad thing, but I, you know, I've done my best to, you know, provide for her, but the truth is no matter what I do, there's no love like a mother, the motherly love.
It's just, it can't be replaced, you know? And, she, she seems to be pretty well adjusted. And we talk about it. It's not anything that's hidden. And every year, you know, on a birthday, we, we light a candle and we, we celebrate, her mother's life. but it's, it's difficult. It's been really difficult, you know, to, to provide not just food and shelter, you know, like a, kind of a, sort of a masculine type of approach, but it's, it's been difficult for me to provide the type of love that a mother could, but I, I do my best.
Louis Goodman: If you couldn't be a lawyer, what would you choose to do? I know you've had some other professional experiences or work experiences.
Elliot Silver: Yeah. So, I actually always envisioned myself, [00:19:00] either, either being, an art professor. Who has a studio producing art? I don't think I would have been a, you know, just a pure student.
but I always sort of always be an art professor. I love art history and, you know, going to the museums and, and learning about all the different, Yeah, the different influences. It's really a tree. You know, it's a tree of, just like music is, is a tree of, derivatives, you know, and that just studying the, the derivatives of, of the art world.
And I always imagined myself being an art professor
Louis Goodman: Elliot, it's really been a pleasure talking to you. There's a lot to cover, and I'm sure that there's other things that we could. Discuss at length. I think this would be a good place to leave it. I want to thank you so much for coming on. I love the lawyer and I hope to see you again soon in court when things get back to normal.
Elliot Silver: Thanks, Louis. It's been a pleasure and a hope you're doing very well out there. Take care. Thanks Lou.
Louis Goodman: Thank you. [00:20:00] Thank you for joining us today on love by lawyer special. Thanks to Elliot silver gold cats for music, Brian Matheson for technical support. Okay, Tracy Harvey, please rate us and review us on Apple podcasts.
I'm Louis Goodman.
Elliot Silver: I've had an internet business before I had a, a in New York, I had an internet pharmacy, and I had also, adult entertainment, website, if you will.