William N. Hebert, 49, a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Calvo and Clark, will be sworn in later this month as the 86th president of the 228,000-member State Bar of California, the regulatory agency for California lawyers. He serves on the boards of the San Francisco Legal Aid Society and the Public Interest Law Project, as well as Prospect Sierra School, and is a panel mediator for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He is a co-author of “California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law.”
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
My wife, Lori Schechter, an attorney at Morrison and Foerster. She’s my trusted counselor, spouse and friend.
Is there a “golden rule” by which you live?
Make decisions based on facts, not emotions and rumors.
Is there something about you people would find surprising?
In college I was a sleep researcher — I worked for Bill Dement at Stanford, who’s the world’s premier sleep researcher. He took it from nothing to being a multibillion-dollar area of research and medicine. We did everything from studies of the onset of narcolepsy in children to sleep deprivation studies. It was a great job.
What would you most want to hear your colleagues say about you?
That they trust and respect me.
What book or piece of writing has had an impact on you?
Richard Kluger’s “Simple Justice” — I was an undergraduate English major, so I’ve read a lot of books.
What’s your favorite piece of legal work you have done?
I represented some high-level employees of the city of Milpitas who were summarily fired allegedly in violation of the Brown Act. We were able to get all three of them fair compensation.
Tell us about your plans at the State Bar.
Luckily I’m in a honeymoon phase. I’m not quite as busy as I might be later. Right now, most of the State Bar work has been preparatory to the coming year — setting up committees, planning to get the dues bill passed. I’m excited about the next year at the bar — it does incredible work in community services in terms of access to justice in the courts and encouraging lawyers to provide service to the poor.
Calvo & Clark does a lot of work in the Pacific Rim. What’s going on there?
The big news in Guam, in Micronesia generally, is that the Japanese and Americans have a deal for the Americans to move off Okinawa. The Marines will move to Guam and $10 billion to $15 billion will be poured into Guam over the next five years — building roads, infrastructure, housing. The population of Guam will probably double from 160,000 to 320,000 to 360,000. We’re the biggest firm in Guam. The work is so exciting. A young lawyer can go to Guam now and be doing deals worth $40 to $50 million — you’re at the table negotiating things. It’s just a great opportunity.