Ashwin Madia’s background speaks for itself: NYU School of Law, Marine Corps JAG, Congressional Candidate. When you dig deeper, though, you began to see one quality that makes up Ashwin’s core: A complete dedication to public service. In his free time at NYU Law School, Ashwin assisted battered women seeking protection, unemployed workers who needed legal assistance, and immigrants seeking asylum from torture. During his military service, Ashwin was deployed to Iraq to help other attorneys in that country establish the rule of law. And now as the founder of Madia Law, Ashwin devotes his time to obtaining fantastic results on behalf of his clients. Below we learn more about Ashwin and how the “relentless pursuit of excellence” has guided him throughout his whole life.
Why did you decide to become a trial lawyer?
“I love the competition.”
I love finding the biggest gorilla in the jungle and starting a fight. I of course like making a difference for our clients, but it’s the love of the game that drives me.
What’s the most important skill an aspiring lawyer can develop to succeed later in their career?
The relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s more of a mindset than a skill, but it’s a mindset that ensures the continuous development of any skill that you want. The desire to want to do everything the very best that you can, not for the money or rewards that might come from it, but for its own sake – for the art. And, like any art, the recognition that you never stop learning. There is no destination where you can sit down and say, “Well, now I’m a great trial lawyer.” But instead, the desire to keep learning and sharpening and getting better every single day – a love for the journey is a great mindset for trial lawyers, I think.
What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a lawyer?
That’s a tough question, because I feel very lucky for my job – I feel like most days are pretty rewarding. There’s probably not a single experience I can point to as the most rewarding. I like the day to day. I love my employees, and feel grateful that they bring it every single day. I’m grateful for my clients and the faith they put in us. I feel lucky that I get to learn every day and try to get better. I love my jury trials. I even like it that opposing counsel comes at us with everything, because that’s how we get harder and better.
What’s your favorite way to unwind after a long day at the office?
Wrestling with my kids. I’ve got a 4-year-old girl, 3-year-old girl, and 1-year-old boy, and they’re a blast. I don’t work at home, pretty much ever. I like to come home, toss them around on our bed and tickle them until they beg for mercy.
How important is it to maintain professional relationships with other lawyers?
“I think it’s important to maintain solid relationships with everyone, including opposing counsel.”
I value my reputation but more than that, I value my temperance and self-control. When opposing counsel is being unreasonable or haughty or mean-spirited or whatever, I view it as my own failure if I lose control and snap in a conversation or email, because to me that just means that, in that moment, I failed to control my emotions and myself. So I try to just breathe and smile and maintain constant control and discipline over my mind and self. Ironically, that can end up being the most frustrating thing for OC, when they can’t get you to lose it. Of course this is something that’s a constant practice, like most of the things we do, so I’m not perfect at it by a long shot. But I try to get better day by day.
What do you wish you would have known about your career before becoming a lawyer?
Not really anything before I became a trial lawyer, but there are a number of books I read 10-15 years into being a lawyer that I wish I would have read the first few months I started, including: basically anything by Rick Friedman, most of the Trial Guides books, and The Winning Brief.
What are some things you look for when first meeting with a client?
I want clients who are willing to go the distance. We’re not a quick settlement turnaround shop. We take just a few cases a year and work them hard, for months and years, to increase the value. That’s not for everyone. So I want clients who are willing to be patient and go to trial if we need to. I want clients who I like and connect with, because if we’re going to be working together for a while, then I want to like them. And I want their case to make the world a little bit better if we win – I don’t want to take cases where they’re just looking to work the system and make some money.
What’s one thing you want for the readers to know about you that we didn’t ask?
“I think physical fitness is very important for everyone, but especially trial lawyers. If you eat right, drink a lot of water, and keep your body in top condition, then I think you’re setting yourself up for success in trial, which often tests your physical endurance and mental toughness, in addition to your preparation.”
Many thanks again to Ashwin for spending his valuable time in sharing some of his knowledge with Lawyer Minds. Ashwin’s organization of choice is The Innocence Project, which works to exonerate and free wrongfully convicted individuals across the United States.