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Oct 28, 2022

In this episode, Kathryn welcomes Richard Zitrin, a trial lawyer and lecturer at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, to talk about how he became a criminal justice advocate and shares some advice for aspiring lawyers. He explains his involvement in the San Quentin Six Case, which became the impetus for his career in criminal justice. Richard has dedicated his career to fighting for justice, first as a criminal defense lawyer, and then as a civil lawyer representing poor people. He has seen firsthand the injustice that poor people and people of color face in the American legal system and he has written a book about it. Additionally, he describes how the cases he handled opened his eyes to the way in which prisoners were treated and how this motivated him in writing his book, Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power.

Who’s The Guest?
Richard Zitrin has been practicing law for over 47 years. He started his career in the early ’70s, representing Johnny Spain in the San Quentin Six Case.

Currently, Richard is a consultant to other lawyers on ethical issues. He is also a Lecturer in Law at the University of California while maintaining his position as the President of the Arthur & Charlotte Zitrin Foundation and Principal at the Zitrin Law Office. He is an accomplished author, sharing some anecdotes from his book, Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power, which also includes details of his product liability case against the Chrysler Corporation as well as his personal opinions regarding Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court.

Episode Resources

  • Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power

    Episode Highlights
  • Why Richard Zitrin decided to go to law school and then drop out after a year
  • What is his role in the San Quentin Six Case
  • How he used his role to fight the inequality and injustice in the American Legal System
  • Shifting his focus from criminal defense to civil rights
  • The impact of systemic racism on the American criminal justice system
  • What his process of writing a memoir is
  • How he balances burnout, compassion, important work, and mental wellness to have the kind of longevity in his career
  • The benefits and drawbacks of courtroom tactics
  • The importance of connecting with your jury

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