"One year after launching her client-centric practice, Alisha Wood continues to be a force to be reckoned with as her DUI and criminal defense practice vows to handle collateral issueswith clients who are up against all odds."
- San Diego Attorney Journal, Volume 152
The Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood is featured in this San Diego Attorney Journal, Volume 152 as Attorney of the Month. The original article can be found AttorneyJournalSD.com. Additionally, a PDF version can be downloaded here.
One year after launching her client-centric practice, Alisha Wood continues to be a force to be reckoned with as her DUI and criminal defense practice vows to handle collateral issues with clients who are up against all odds.
This year the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood, which focuses on criminal and immigration law, celebrates its first-year anniversary, but the firm’s success and acclaim did not come easy. Ms. Wood’s career path was fraught with challenges and uncommon barriers. She grew up in a small town in Arkansas where aspirations of college were uncommon and not encouraged. Nonetheless, Ms. Wood is glad she did not listen to her detractors, and she now enjoys a successful career at her boutique law firm in San Diego, California. Ms. Wood’s experience and history have given her a unique perspective on how to handle cases, and have also given her the courage and strength to take on difficult cases that others would not.
Ms. Wood grew up in the small town of Springdale, Arkansas, in a tight-knit community with a slower-paced lifestyle. Ms. Wood learned at a very young age that she wanted more than what small town life had to offer, so she decided to forge her own path and applied to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She attended the University of Arkansas on a full scholarship, where she began her studies in Biology with a plan to attend medical school. But, life had different plans for her. Ms. Wood greeted her daughter, Gillian, during college. This taught her how to face the challenges of being a single parent while continuing to pursue her academic career, as well as working three jobs to support her and her daughter. Ms. Wood did not know it yet, but life was about to take another turn.
During her junior year at the University of Arkansas, Ms. Wood decided her rapier’s wit and silver tongue could be put to use in the legal arena. She immediately pursued a minor in Legal Studies despite the herculean effort it would take to complete an additional 15 units before graduation. She did not know it then, but this would be the best decision of her life. After graduation, Ms. Wood did what any responsible single parent would do and secured a corporate job to support herself and Gillian while she prepared to apply to law school. Ms. Wood quickly realized corporate life was not for her, but she learned a great deal that would later help her in her career. She applied to law school and shortly thereafter was packing her and her daughter’s bags for California to begin her legal studies at Whittier College School of Law.
Ms. Wood attended law school on a scholarship. She was also awarded a fellowship in Intellectual Property, with the intent of using her Biology degree to practice Patent Law. After winning her first-year legal writing competition, she was asked to join the Moot Court team. In her second year, she earned a position on the Mock Trial team. Ms. Wood not only competed for both organizations nationally, but also earned a position in the prestigious Willem C. Vis International Moot Court Competition in Vienna, Austria. This practical experience led her to realize that her place was in the courtroom. In her third year, Ms. Wood served on the Honors Boards for both organizations, as well as acting as the Alumni Liaison for the Student Government Board. During law school, she worked for the Orange County District Attorney’s office to further hone her courtroom skills. Following graduation, Ms. Wood took and passed the California State Bar on her first attempt, garnering her the opportunity to work for a DUI firm in San Diego. Ms. Wood’s legal acuity allowed her to rise to become the partner of that firm before she decided to strike out on her own and open the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood.
A UNIQUE APPROACH TO ACHIEVE THE RIGHT RESULT
Ms. Wood’s background is indelibly imprinted on her philosophy in approaching cases: a client-centric and full-service approach. Ms. Wood retained the sense of community from her small town upbringing, which translated into a community-type approach to her cases. Specifically, she looks to what her clients need and crafts a proactive approach to get them not only the best result, but the right outcome. Ms. Wood emphasized that her firm “takes that extra step for clients—which means helping with any potential collateral damage that tends to accompany criminal cases.” All too often, Ms. Wood saw the sweeping consequences a criminal charge and conviction can have, and decided to take that extra step in every case to help restore her client’s sense of dignity and worth.
For example, Ms. Wood’s full-service mentality allowed her to help a client avoid losing her child. “When we took on a felony DUI case with a child in the car, Child Protective Services (CPS) became involved and removed the child from the home and reported our client to the Child Abuse Index.” Ms. Wood quickly intervened in the juvenile dependency hearings and had the child returned to the home—an otherwise unheard of outcome given the circumstances. Ms. Wood continues to defend her client’s rights in relation to the index. Not only was Ms. Wood successful in representing her client in the criminal case, with a dismissal of the felony charges, but also ensured it was not “a more traumatic outcome” for this family.
Ms. Wood’s adversity early in her life allowed her to have the strength to fight for clients when all appeared lost. One of her clients, a medical student, was facing a second-offence DUI in Orange County. Numerous attorneys told the client she should take a deal for a second-offense DUI because that was the best that Orange County would offer. In fact, she was going to do just that, until a former client and mentor told her to reach out to Ms. Wood’s firm. Ms. Wood was not deterred and was confident she could obtain a better result after reviewing the client’s case. “Luckily the client found us. We not only got her prior DUI dismissed, but we also settled the case for a first-offense wet reckless plea, which saved the client’s career.”
Despite her success, Ms. Wood remains humble and emphasizes these results come from “hard work, not being afraid to ask questions, and developing a strong network of colleagues that are like minded.” Also, she emphasizes her unique approach to cases has lent to her success. “Foremost, we work proactively. We assess our client’s needs—not just within the scope of their case—but any personal issues they may be facing as well. As with many cases, there are underlying issues that need to be properly addressed in order to put the client at ease and to ensure they receive any additional services they need to succeed.” Ms. Wood also attributes her success to her team and the network she has strived to build. “We are fortunate not only to have an awesome team here at the firm, but we also have a devoted network of professionals that care about our clients as much as we do.” Put simply, Ms. Wood’s philosophy is not just to handle her client’s legal matters, but she also focuses on helping her clients so they they do not end up in a similar situation in the future.
FULL-SERVICE APPROACH TO ASSIST CLIENTS WITH CRISIS MANAGEMENT
The Firm and Ms. Wood have also focused on other areas of the law, such as immigration. Her wealth of experience and laser focus allowed her to quickly tackle new issues to benefit her clients. For example, one of her clients was not only facing criminal domestic violence charges, but his school was also seeking to dismiss the client due to the pending criminal matter. Ms. Wood stepped in on her client’s behalf to preserve his rights. Ms. Wood explained, “I accompanied my client to hearings with the school because he would face deportation if the school dismissed him from the University.” Despite the stakes being high and the odds stacked against the client, Ms. Wood used her legal skills to have the charges reduced.
From the beginning, Ms. Wood’s practice has focused on the client-centric approach to make sure that each client receives the result they need. “We treat every client with the respect and honesty they deserve. Each case is different of course, but it is our professional duty to serve each client with integrity and to ensure that we achieve the best outcome for their particular set of circumstances.”
In fact, her approach has not gone unnoticed, as she has received referrals from other attorneys and members of the legal community. “Referring a client to another attorney is a tremendous vote of confidence. When clients are sent our way, they and the firm that sent them can rest assured they are in good hands and will be treated with the utmost respect.” However, treating clients with respect comes naturally for Ms.Wood because her strong sense of community dictates everyone deserves respect—no matter their background.
Ms. Wood also has established a pro-bono program because she knows not everyone can afford the legal representation they deserve. Through her pro-bono program, Ms. Wood personally selects a handful of cases to take on a pro-bono basis. She also devotes her extra time to contributing to the legal industry itself. In 2014, Ms. Wood was selected to serve as the California state delegate for the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), and currently serves as a member of the Bench Bar Committee with the Lawyers Club of San Diego.
The Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood has exciting plans for the future as well. Ms. Wood explains, “We continue to grow and expand our practice areas while maintaining our smaller size so that we can ensure we maintain the high level of quality work that we put into every case.” Ms. Wood also credits her success in no small part to her team: Carmen Galvan, the firm’s senior paralegal and office manager, and Matthew H. Springmeyer, of counsel for the firm. Mr. Springmeyer has not only taken on the lead role in the firm’s immigration practice arena, but also continues to be an invaluable member of the team, as he also handles the bulk of motion preparation and research for Ms. Wood’s office. Mr. Springmeyer is able to handle all of this while still maintaining his own firm, the Law Office of Matthew H. Springmeyer. Of course, Ms. Wood also credits her daughter’s support and encouragement with helping her reach where she is today.
Ms. Wood’s firm always comes back to the simple mantra: doing good hard work, being honest with clients, and making a meaningful impact on her clients’ lives so that they can succeed after their case concludes. The challenges she has faced have only reinforced her passion to help clients through their own struggles, and her sense of community drives her firm’s motivation to make sure each client receives what they need. Her firm has enjoyed much early success and the promise of a bright future has been built on the foundation that each case and client is different, so each case requires a different approach. But, when the focus is on crisis intervention and the clients’ needs, a proactive approach will pave the way to reach the best result possible for each client.