Think about what you bring to the table. Everyone is unique, including you, and you bring your own perspectives and skills. Embrace those instead of following someone else’s example.
CMCP Ambassadors Council member Kenneth M. Trujillo-Jamison exemplifies what it means to support CMCP’s mission to advance professional and personal development opportunities for attorneys of color across California. On election to the Council, he served on the 2019 Annual Business Conference Planning Committee and has served as CMCPAC Appointments Committee Chair.
Kenneth is a Senior Associate at Willenken LLP, a preeminent, minority-owned, majority-women trial and litigation boutique based in Los Angeles. Kenneth specializes in Intellectual Property and Business Litigation. Before joining Willenken, Kenneth practiced at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He also served as a law clerk for The Honorable Judge Paul J. Watford of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Kenneth has been selected to The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 List, and was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star, in 2021, and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch, in 2020 and 2021.
Kenneth received his J.D. from Yale Law School, his M.A. from Princeton University, and his B.A., magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis.
In addition to his practice, Kenneth is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Copyright Society, a past president and current board member of the Housing Rights Center, and the Treasurer and board member of Inner City Law Center. He was also a 2018 Pathfinder in the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity program. Kenneth enjoys listening to podcasts and spending time with his wife and his two young children.
“Progress for attorneys of color often stalls because they lack sponsors. I aspire to be a sponsor.”
What extracurricular professional activities have had the most impact on you or your profession?
CMCP has had a profound impact on my professional development. It has been a great way to meet and build relationships with fellow attorneys of color throughout the State of California, and to learn strategies and tips for succeeding in the legal profession.
What challenges have you encountered that you’d like to mitigate for the next generation?
Success in the legal profession often hinges on having an influential sponsor who can advocate on your behalf and create opportunities for you. Being a sponsor requires deep trust of the junior attorney because advocating for that attorney puts the sponsor’s reputation on the line. But building deep trusting relationships is challenging for attorneys of color in predominantly White firms. Progress for attorneys of color often stalls because they lack sponsors. I aspire to be a sponsor. By joining the ranks of those with the ability to sponsor others, I hope the diversity of the profession will improve and long-lasting change will happen.
What has your job taught you that you think about in other areas of your like?
Being a skilled litigator means being able to evaluate thoroughly all sides of an issue. This skill is also useful in developing effective strategies for achieving change in the legal profession. Many well-meaning individuals, unfortunately, resist change when it seems to come at their expense. And some view progress on the diversity, equity, and inclusion front that way. It’s therefore helpful to anticipate those critiques and figure out how best to overcome them in advocating for changes that will benefit attorneys of color.
Looking back, what advice would you share with yourself as a young attorney of color starting the legal profession?
It is important early in your career to find a senior attorney at your firm or in-house department who will give you candid and direct advice about how to grow your career. To me, this requires more than a mentor; the senior attorney needs to take an active role in guiding the junior attorney on key decisions that should be made. Guidance on what matters to take, what areas of the law to specialize in, or which colleagues to work with (or to avoid), can be critical to advancing in your career. Young attorneys should take control of their careers as soon as they can, but novices to the profession are not well equipped to take that control without guidance.