Where Are They Now?” highlights USD Law School graduates who participated in one or more clinics, and their successful transition to the workforce.
This month’s “Where Are The Now?” segment takes a slightly different approach, as it shines the light on not only one but two graduates of USD’s School of Law and participants in the Legal Clinics — two individuals that happen to be brothers and also both served our country through military service.
Al and Andrew “Andy” Limberg, are numbers four and five respectively of five children. Growing up in the Bay area, they came to San Diego to attend college and both also elected to serve in the military. “Honestly, going into the military was a great way to pay for school,” begins Al. “The five children in our family are just eight years apart. We knew it would be difficult for our dad to pay for our education, so utilizing the assistance offered by the military, we had a great opportunity to pay for school, in addition to serving our country.”
Some might think that so many similarities would lead to like personalities and career goals. “We’re brothers, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end,” comments Andy. “The fact that we are both attorneys and served in the military is really more a coincidence than anything else.” Al laughs, adding, “We agree on maybe 3% of things; we just have very different interests.”
Different interests that are certainly reflected in their career and military paths. Al completed his undergraduate studies in Business Administration at USD, joining NROTC early on. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, and attended flight school.
Alternately, Andy enrolled at SDSU, studied Criminal Justice and joined the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC), spending summers at Quantico attending Officer Candidate School; upon graduating he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines. A self-identified “adrenaline junkie,” Andy states, “the Marines really appealed to me since I was looking for some adventure. I knew I would have opportunities to train and become more tactically involved during my service which was exciting to me.” Andy served in the infantry with 1st Marines and carried out collateral duty as a legal officer, investigating the crimes and accidents on his area of the base and unit. “I worked really closely with the judge advocates,” describes Andy. “With my degree in Criminal Justice and my experience in the Marines, I knew what area of law I wanted to practice.” And as a result, Andy enrolled in USD’s School of Law.
On a separate track, a few years after commissioning, Al earned his wings and was assigned to a squadron at Naval Air Station Miramar. He served as a naval flight officer flying in the back of the E-2C Hawkeye. “What I took away from that active duty experience was perspective,” reflects Al. “It’s incredible the responsibility that kids like me had, and still have, in their early twenties. The decisions that need to be made in civilian life really pale in comparison to those we had to make on the spot in the military.” Al’s passion and dedication to the military is reflected in his ten year active duty career, after which he served another ten years in the reserves, only recently retiring in October 2011.
Al and Andy overlapped in their attendance at USD’s School of Law, with Al enrolling in 1996 and Andy in 1999. “At the time I enrolled in the Law School, there were definitely a lot of students that were either current or former military,” comments Al. “And at that time I was active duty, so I worked during the day and attended law school at night.” Al’s night program took him through a four-year law school experience, and he graduated in May of 2000. Andy graduated two years after him in May of 2002.
Both participated in the Legal Clinics, with Andy completing work study over one summer in the Civil Clinic, in addition to a full year in the Criminal Clinic under Professor Laura Berend. “What was great about the Criminal Clinic experience is that we weren’t doing mock trials or moot court; it was the ‘real deal’ from real juries,” reflects Andy. “The only way you can truly learn how practicing law is done is through actual practice. As a result, the clinics experience was invaluable.”
“Well I guess we do agree on something,” interjects Al with a smile, underscoring the value of his Civil Clinic experience, a particularly important opportunity for him. “For someone in my situation, working full-time, it was next to impossible to get an internship over the summer,” describes Al. “So even though I did try, I quickly figured out that participating in the Legal Clinics was hands-down the best way to get any kind of practical legal experience.”
Through his participation with the Legal Clinics, Al worked on a variety of cases. “It gave me the ability to see what a case really is and how it actually works,” he adds. “Law school teaches theory and the clinics teach application. It was also pretty rewarding because we were helping people that otherwise might not have access to legal assistance.”
Not to be outdone, Andy adds, “During law school I recognized that simply learning the case law may not be all that beneficial after graduating and being required to actually practice law. The Clinics gave me an excellent opportunity to gain that experience beforehand.” Andy’s participation in the Criminal Clinic led to an internship at the Profile Homicide Unit of the Public Defender . “I actually got to second chair murder trials,” he comments. “That’s definitely something you don’t get in the classroom.”
Andy completed his tour with the Marines in 2002: “I got out and no one was hiring. So I grew a beard and sent out a lot of resumes,” he describes. “Then I got a notice from the post office to pick up a letter. I figured it was my Bar certificate. Instead it was a letter addressed to Captain Limberg saying ‘you’re being involuntarily recalled back to duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom.’ So I went home, shaved, got a hair cut and broke the news to my wife.” Serving again from 2003 – 2004, his primary duty was as a Company Commander. The military also quickly put his law school education to work, and in addition to running his Company, his collateral duty included handling a number of legal matters, including landlord-tenant issues and wills, among other civil law issues.
Al completed his law degree a year before Andy in 2000, and reflects on how his military experience helped give him a unique perspective in law school. “Going to law school at night is not the easiest of things to do,” he begins. “And coming off of being deployed at sea for months on end, it was quite something to be able to go home every night to a bed that’s not rocking with the ocean. I also got to see my wife every day. She actually worked in the Paralegal Program at USD, so we would meet on campus for dinner. Even though it might not seem like much, it was more than I got to see her when I was on the ship.”
After graduating, Al worked for a few different law firms in a variety of legal arenas. He currently works for Sessions, Fishman, Nathan and Israel, a civil law firm, practicing some employment law with a primary focus on consumer defense. And for him one of the best parts is the flexibility he’s allowed to spend with his eleven and six year-old children. “I work long hours during the week, but I also have the opportunity to coach their soccer teams,” he comments. “That’s another take away from the military; being deployed for months on end, you learn to appreciate the time you have with your family.”
Andy was also grateful to return to civilian life, and his military background assisted him in landing a job with a local defense attorney. “He was a former Marine as well,” states Andy. “And I think that went a long way in speaking for my character and work ethic.” Andy worked for him for two years, also learning how to run the business side of the practice. He then ventured out on his own and over the last six years has created a successful criminal defense practice.
One other area of common ground for the brothers is an understanding of how their military service uniquely prepared them for practicing law. “As a trial attorney, I’m in an adversarial process by its very nature,” states Andy. “So those war fighting principles transferred really well to the courtroom, preparing me to think tactically about my defense argument. As the defender, we’re always the underdog going in and I found my experience in the Marine Corps gave me an advantage in the courtroom.”
Al adds to Andy’s reflections stating, “In the military, you look beyond the situation directly in front of you, at the big picture. So military service teaches you to think that many steps ahead. In doing so, you can see where the opponent will be coming from and, as a result, can counteract their move before it’s made.”
Having recently added a Veteran’s Clinic to our offerings through USD’s Legal Clinics, this “Where Are They Now?” spotlight is particularly relevant. So many individuals, like Al and Andy, have made significant contributions to our country’s safety and well being, and we are so pleased they have also joined the ranks of the many brilliant attorneys to have participated in our clinics and graduated from USD’s School of Law.