Sylvia V. Gonzalez

Episode 008

Sylvia V. Gonzalez

Firm: The Law Office of Sylvia V. Gonzalez


Subscribe to receive the latest episodes in your inbox

Show Notes

In this episode of “Celebrating Justice,” we sit down with trial lawyer Sylvia V. Gonzalez, who shares her inspiring journey from considering a career in education to making significant strides in personal injury law. Sylvia discusses her initial aspirations after graduating from the University of Santa Barbara, pivotal moments of career realization, and the experiences that shaped her specialized focus. Her story provides an in-depth look at navigating courtroom challenges and experiencing the unexpected twists that come with jury deliberations.

For her “Closing Argument,” Sylvia shares how listening and being true to yourself is the most important thing when following your passion and dreams.


1:16 – Why did you want to become a trial lawyer?
3:49 – What makes you unique?
5:15 – A case that matters.
10:40 – Sylvia’s “Closing Argument.”

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Jury Dynamics: Sylvia shares a compelling courtroom anecdote underscoring the importance of ensuring accurate jury counts and how a seemingly definitive trial outcome can dramatically change, revealing the jurors’ deep sense of duty.
  • Overcoming Societal Expectations: Sylvia’s narrative is a testament to defying external doubts and societal expectations, encouraging lawyers and individuals to pursue their true passions despite discouragement from others.
  • Empathy and Language Advantage: Sylvia highlights how being bilingual sets her apart in personal injury law, allowing her to directly connect with Spanish-speaking clients, enhancing trust and communication.
  • Breaking Stereotypes: Her approachable nature challenges the typical media portrayal of lawyers, reinforcing the value of charisma and openness in legal practice.


[Theme Song Plays]

Sylvia Gonzalez: The judge went through that in my count, and I’m like, wait, this is 8 to 4? I see her and she turns to another juror and she goes, “I am going to wring that girl’s neck.” The jurors, they do take their position seriously. They do take that responsibility seriously. Just prove it to yourself that you can do it. And don’t let that stop you.

Narrator: Welcome to Celebrating Justice, presented by the Trial Lawyers Journal and CloudLex, the next gen legal cloud platform built exclusively for personal injury law. Get inspired by the nation’s top trial lawyers and share in the stories that shape our pursuit of justice. Follow the podcast and join our community at Now here’s your host, editor of TLJ and VP of Marketing at CloudLex, Chad Sands.

Chad Sands: Hello friends, and welcome back to Celebrating Justice. In this episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with Sylvia V. Gonzalez. Her journey from leading litigation at a large law firm to opening her own practice showcases her dedication, versatility, and the drive to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. So I asked her, why did you want to become a trial lawyer?

Sylvia Gonzalez: I actually thought I was going to be a teacher. I was a major in Sociology and Chicano Studies, and so I ended up volunteering. One summer, I volunteered at my old high school, and while volunteering, I just realized I did not like teaching. I did not have the tolerance for the kids. They were so disrespectful. And so I just decided becoming a teacher wasn’t for me.

And so I went back to school to finish my last year, and I just decided to take a class on the different Supreme Court cases that made a huge difference in our rights. And I was like, wow, you know, these attorneys here, they really made a difference for our history for us, you know? And I realized while becoming a lawyer, you could actually help people. And that’s what I really wanted to do was help people. So at that point, I just decided, well, I’m just going to go to law school and I’m going to become an attorney. And then while I was in law school, I thought I was going to become a family law attorney. And so I exturned with a family law attorney, and I realized I did not like it. I think it takes a very special personality to practice family law. And I just didn’t have that in me. And I just didn’t like all the arguing and everything like that, between couples, with kids and stuff like that. And so I just decided, well, I wasn’t going to do that. And this one attorney, this personal injury attorney, decided to take a chance on me, because no one would hire me because I didn’t have any experience. And while I was working for him, I was doing the pre-litigation work, and I was just going through the cases and I just realized I was like, wow, these people are really injured. And it was no fault of their own. They’re injured and they’re going to have to suffer for the rest of their lives with these injuries. And their lives are changed forever. And I realize, well, these people do need help. And so then that’s when I decided right then and there I was going to be a personal injury attorney. Not really thinking. I didn’t really think about, oh, I’m going to go to trial and all that stuff. I didn’t think about that. I just thought, well, you know, I really like personal injury. So I’m going to do this. So after I passed the bar, I only applied to personal injury firms. And that’s how I got started.

Chad Sands: You touched on it a little bit, you know, the legal industry as a whole. But I think especially personal injury law thrives on specialization. Personal flair a little bit.

Sylvia Gonzalez: Yes. 

Chad Sands: In what ways do you consider yourself to break the mold or innovate within the PI world, to kind of set yourself apart?

Sylvia Gonzalez: I think one of the things is that I do speak Spanish, so I think that that sets me apart, especially with my Spanish speaking clients. If they want, they could speak to me. If they want a meeting with me, they could speak to me as opposed to a meeting with, you know, with me, along with maybe a paralegal who’s translating everything.

Chad Sands: Sure. 

Sylvia Gonzalez: And so, or a phone call, you know, they could speak to me over the phone. And then another thing, too. I just feel like a lot of attorneys don’t have good reputations. Like, we have the reputation of being maybe aggressive or difficult to talk to. And I think, I just don’t believe that with most attorneys, I think most attorneys that I have met are very charismatic and they’re very, very nice. But I guess, you know, the media, TV makes it seem like we’re not. But I think that’s another thing, too. I feel like I’m easy to approach and easy to talk to, you know. And that’s something that other people have told me that are not attorneys. They’ve told me, oh, well, “I can’t believe you’re an attorney, you’re so easy to talk to.” And I’m just like, you know, we all are easy to talk to. It’s just that, you know, it’s just that stereotype that I think that people have.

Chad Sands: I know it’s hard to pick one, but I think every attorney does have that one case that feels defining or transformative to their practice. Can you discuss a case that has had a profound effect on how you approach law?

Sylvia Gonzalez: I’ll talk about this one case. This one case I’ll never forget it. I think I had only been practicing for maybe, maybe three years at that point. And so I went to trial on this one case. We finished the trial maybe around 3:30, something like that. That’s always not really good, because then the judge sent them to go deliberate. And if they finish by, like, you know, 4:00-4:15 or whatever, then then that’ll be it. And then the judge will dismiss everyone for the day. So, they went to deliberate, and then about, like maybe, 4:15, they say that they have a verdict. When they say the verdict, they say that the defendant was not negligent. That was like the first question in the verdict form, you know, was the defendant negligent? And then if they say no, they don’t have to answer any of the questions or anything like that, and they go home for the day. So right then and there I lost the case. The judge was like, okay, well, would you like us to poll the jury? And I said, yes, I want to poll the jury. And then so, she asks each and every one of them what their verdict was. And when she went through everyone, it was 8 for not negligent, 4 for negligent. Well, it’s supposed to be 9 to 3 at the very least. Nine of the jurors need to say that.

Chad Sands: I see. Not 8. 9.

Sylvia Gonzalez: Yeah. And so when the judge went through that and I counted and I’m like, wait, this is 8 to 4. And the judge didn’t even catch that. She was like, okay, everybody can leave for the day. And I was like, no, no, no, wait, wait, wait. I go, you know, Your Honor, can I have a sidebar with you? And then she’s like, yeah. And so we went and we talked and I told her, you know, it’s 8 to 4. I counted 8 to 4, it’s not 9 to 3. And then she’s like, really? Oh I didn’t catch that. Okay. Let me go through. And again so, she went through again and it was 8 to 4. And then she goes, it’s actually 8 to 4, it’s not 9 to 3. So you guys don’t have a verdict. So you’re coming back tomorrow. 

Chad Sands: Wow. 

Sylvia Gonzalez: When she said that you’re coming back tomorrow, all the jurors are like, oh my gosh, like that. You know, they were so annoyed. And then I hear one of the jurors, I see her and she turns to another juror and she goes, I am going to wring that girl’s neck.

Chad Sands: Referring to you?

Sylvia Gonzalez: Yes. That’s that, I got it. Yeah. And so she says that and then so I’m thinking, okay, for sure I’m going to lose this case. But you know, they have to come back. And so then she tells them, okay, you know, come back tomorrow. So then we go back the next day and then, they start deliberating, but then they’re deliberating for hours. And I start thinking, well, maybe this might turn around. And so they deliberate for, like maybe, about three hours, and then they come back with a completely different verdict, saying that the defendant was negligent. And I won that trial. And so that really taught me a lot. It taught me a lot about jurors. It taught me a lot. You should always poll the jury also. It just taught me about jurors, because I think when I heard the verdict for the first time, and then hearing that it was 8 to 4 and they tried to get away with that, I thought to myself, well, you know, they’re not really taking their responsibility very seriously. But, you know, when they came back the next day, they did take it seriously because they could have easily just said, okay, you know, let’s just get one more person and say that the defendant wasn’t negligent. Let’s get out of here. But they didn’t do that. They stayed for hours and they actually deliberated and they changed the verdict. So it made me think that the jurors, they do take their position seriously. They do take that responsibility seriously. It’s just that, you know, we don’t know what’s going on with them in their personal life. Nobody wants to be in a courtroom. Hey, nobody wants to be a juror. I don’t know how badly they wanted to get home. I don’t know what’s going on in their house. You know what responsibility they have to get to, their personal responsibilities that they have to get to. But when it comes down to it, they will take their responsibility as jurors seriously. That trial taught me a lot.

Chad Sands: Yes. That’s a great story, a great point. I mean, do you always poll the jury now on every trial you do?

Sylvia Gonzalez: Oh, yes. Yes.

Chad Sands: And, and and I wonder, like, did the defense attorney know? I mean, did he realize what was going on and didn’t want to speak up? And then because fingers crossed, maybe the judge is going to miss it. 

Sylvia Gonzalez: Yeah, I assumed he did. You know, I assumed he did. Or maybe he didn’t bother to count it because he thought, well, I won the case, so why am I even going to count? You know, yeah, who knows who knows that I wonder that too though.

Narrator: At CloudLex, we understand the challenges personal injury law firms face every day. That’s why we’ve built the legal cloud platform to help you stay productive and keep your cases moving forward. CloudLex provides a comprehensive suite of applications and features to support every stage of intake, pre-litigation, trial, and more. From innovative case management to insightful analytics and HIPAA secure client communication, CloudLex empowers your firm with the technology to thrive. Build your firm of the future and see for yourself at 

Now here is this episode’s closing argument.

Sylvia Gonzalez: I guess, all my life, I’ve been told that I can’t do certain things. You know, and it all started even when I wanted to go to college. I told my parents that I wanted to go away to college, and I wanted to go to university. And they told me, you know, no, don’t do that. Just stay home and go to a junior college, you know, just stay here. And I didn’t want to do that. And so I went ahead and I applied to universities and I ended up going to UC Santa Barbara. And then after UC Santa Barbara, I really wanted to learn Spanish, and I wasn’t learning it here. And so I decided that I’m going to take a job in Central America as a teacher. And my parents said, no, you’re not going to Central America, you’re not going to go there, you’re going to stay here. But I told them, I’m the one that’s paying for it. I’ve decided that I’m going to go, and I think it’s a good opportunity. And so I went and I ended up staying there for a full year. 

When it came to law school, my parents were like, no, just become a teacher. Why do you want to go to law school? And I said, no, I want to go to law school. When I passed the bar, my parents never thought that I would be able to pass the bar. So I ended up passing the bar and, and they were very, very proud of me. But I always knew there were people in my life that didn’t believe that I could do that. But whenever I hear those discouraging comments, I feel encouraged. And I don’t know why. I don’t know where I got that from, but I do feel encouraged whenever I hear someone tell me that I can’t do something. And when they do tell me that I can’t do something, it drives me just to accomplish that. So I think that’s one thing that I would like to tell people is just when people tell you that you can’t do anything, or you can’t do something that you really want to do, just go ahead and do it. Just prove it to yourself that you can do it. And don’t let that stop you. Just do it.

Chad Sands: That was trial lawyer Sylvia V. Gonzalez. Thanks for sharing your story, Sylvia. To learn more about Sylvia and her firm, visit her website All right, that’s a wrap. I’m Chad Sands. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Narrator: You’ve been listening to Celebrating Justice, presented by CloudLex and the Trial Lawyers Journal. Remember, the stories don’t end here. Visit to become part of our community and keep the conversation going. And for a deeper dive into the tools that empower personal injury law firms, visit to learn more.