I was a nobody. All I wanted was to make a difference in this world. I needed to cement my legacy. I craved justice, visibility, and for people to know my name. So, I went to law school.
Some people think a degree in law offers an opportunity to create systemic justice. The ability to shape local regulations to protect the powerless and instill fear in the powerful.
Some people see law as the arena for progress in this country, which has paved the way for desegregation, same-sex marriage, and union rights.
To be in law is to be a steward of the powerless, a beacon of hope against abusive power, the mechanism for keeping governments accountable, and a salve for the slow burn of corruption.
But for me, it’s also about the billboards. Mostly the billboards.
I got into this for the billboards you drive past on your morning commute. The ones with the man in a perfect Men’s Wearhouse three-piece suit and an irresistibly catchy nickname, complete with the ambiguous sponsorship of the regional, overlooked professional sports team.
As a child, I looked up at those billboards and marveled at their power. Could you just choose a nickname? Could you be your own superlative? Did every lawyer have to look so aggressive in the picture? Could you really edit something on Microsoft Paint at your house and it would end up on a board viewed by thousands?
Before I was a lawyer, everyone called me Derrick.
Now, everyone calls me “The Truck.”
Specifically, Derrick “The Truck” Alvarez.
Today, my billboard reads: “Derrick ‘The Truck' Alvarez. Don’t Get Trucked. Get A Lawyer.”
A billboard that is shown every five miles down Interstate 205.
People ask me if I’ve been called “The Truck” my whole life. I haven’t. I’ve never been called that until I became a lawyer. In fact, when I was born, the doctor spilled placenta juice on my birth certificate and even I was unsure of my name.
Until the billboards. Until now. That’s the power of practicing law.
I’ll get phone calls and people will say, “I need a lawyer” and I’ll say, “Why?” and they’ll explain their case and I’ll stop them and ask them, “But why did you call me?” and we’ll go back and forth, and eventually they’ll realize that I want them to say, “To not get trucked.”
In those moments, I know that every second of the three years of law school and four years studying for the BAR were worth it.
Every late night at the library, I would think to myself, “Soon, I’ll hire a Craiglist photographer, and a totally different Craiglist graphic designer, and I’ll talk to the media team for The Crows and my billboards will be up on the highway.” I would think to myself, my redemption is right around the bend. The bend in the freeway when you’re driving north on the 205.
And now, with my dreams come true, I ensure that my clients don’t get trucked. I am the Truck that ensures they don’t get trucked. I am trucking Derick “The Truck” Alvarez. They call the number. And it’s me. I am both trucker and truckee, and the one who stops you from oncoming trucks. Sound confusing? The law is filled with contradictions and complexities. And only a real lawyer, a lawyer with the right motivations, can navigate it so as to ensure that their clients never get trucked and importantly never inquire about the context for the nickname.
Because there is none. It just happened. And that is the full power of law.