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Meet Network Member: Sandra Edwards

Jul 24, 2018 | News & Updates

Sandra Edwards

is the Chair of the Environmental Law Department at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, the Network member from Northern California. She has extensive trial experience in federal and state court in her litigation practice and as a former Assistant District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. Sandra recently sat down for an interview with Felice Wagner, Executive Director of The Network of Trial Law Firms.

How do you think your experience at the DA’s Office shaped your private practice?

I came to the DA’s Office from a big firm where the culture dictates being cautious and methodical. At the DA’s Office, I was handed a file on my first day and was told “this case goes to trial on Friday.” They are two completely different environments.

One of the real benefits of my time there was the lasting impact that it had on my level of confidence. You are constantly in the trenches – that sort of experience really boosts your trial skills. There is probably no better arena in which to hone in on the practical aspects of trying a case — understanding evidence and how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of witnesses, the entire gamut.

What differentiates you as a trial attorney?

I think I have mastered the ability of cutting to the heart of a matter. I don’t get overly fixated on the aspects of the case that ultimately don’t matter in trial. A good trial attorney needs to be able to cut through a lot of noise and really focus on what will matter to a judge or a jury.

What types of clients do you typically work with?

My clients tend to be Fortune 100 companies. I work with a lot of pharmaceutical companies and with corporations with agricultural and/or industrial products. I also do a lot of mass toxic tort work. The bulk of my work in this space deals with the historical use of pesticides, and allegations of groundwater contamination.

I also spend a lot of time advising clients on what seems to be an ever-shifting state regulatory environment. California is one of the largest economies in the world, so a lot of people want to do business here. Proposition 65 can be a big stressor for clients. It requires anyone in the stream of commerce to warn if a product contains chemicals recognized by California as carcinogens or reproductive toxins. Anyone selling products in California needs to be aware of these regulations, and I help companies to navigate through them.

What non-legal accomplishments are you most proud of?

The honest answer is that I am most proud of my role as a parent. I suspect a lot of women aren’t totally comfortable talking about being a mom in the workplace. I think it is still a bit taboo, but I am ridiculously proud of my daughter. I’m not sure she is “my accomplishment,” but I feel phenomenally lucky to have this really smart, really cool kid. I like to think that I am playing some role in helping to shape her.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I am wickedly competitive when it comes to anything athletic – including cornhole toss! Unfortunately, sometimes my competitiveness outweighs my skill.

At fourteen, I started playing competitive tennis – I actually won a game against Marianne Werdel, who went on to become a professional tennis player. I don’t think I’ve stopped bragging about it ever since, especially after I saw her play at Wimbledon. I went on to play tennis through college for a nationally ranked team.

How have you maximized your involvement with The Network?

The Network has been a great vehicle to get to know Network practitioners and potential clients outside of California. I have met a lot of people across the country that I would not hesitate to introduce clients to. A turning point for me was when one of my clients specifically mentioned how useful they found The Network’s programming and networking opportunities. After meeting some of the attorneys at a recent event, my client commented that she would be very comfortable reaching out to a Network firm. It has expanded my reach exponentially.

What would you say are the greatest benefits of this affiliation?

The speaking opportunities, especially for new members, helps to raise one’s profile. Further, the reciprocity among the members is refreshing. There is a general willingness to introduce clients to member participants and a true desire to further everyone’s respective interests. And, of course, the events are truly world-class.

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"TRIAL.COM", "The Network", and "The Lawyers' Knowledge Network" are registered service marks of The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc.
© 2019 - The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc.