Robbie Munoz (JD ’20) was an amateur boxer training to qualify for the U.S. Olympic boxing team trials in 2008 when he suffered a knee injury. He underwent what should have been a standard procedure to repair it, but the surgeon ended up operating on the wrong knee. The resulting damage meant Munoz’s budding athletic career was over in an instant.
“It rocked my identity,” Munoz said. “There was kind of a crossroads: What am I going to do with my life now?”
Munoz’s resulting medical negligence case was represented—successfully–by attorney Dan Hodes and his team at Hodes Milman, LLP. Inspired by the compassion and support he experienced from his legal team, Munoz realized he wanted to do the same for other people.
“They showed me that you can have a really profound impact on people that are likely facing some of the most difficult times of their lives,” said Munoz.
Munoz was pursuing a political science degree at the time at the University of California, Irvine, with an interest in possibly going into politics—he even interned with then-U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra. But after his life-changing experience, Munoz turned his focus toward becoming a trial lawyer instead—a career path that he said is comparable to his former athletic pursuits.
“It was very much to me like the idea of being in a boxing ring,” Munoz said. “It’s not always one-on-one, but it’s that idea of ‘I’ve got my team and defense counsel has their team and you’re going head-to-head.’ I think it takes that same competitive instinct and spirit.”
Munoz joined Hodes Milman as a law clerk, and a few years later, was accepted to the Chapman University Fowler School of Law. During his time at the law school, Munoz has been involved in several student organizations, including the Student Bar Association and Hispanic Law Student Association, and competed in a mock trial competition during his second year.
In the summer of 2019, two big opportunities came along that would further shape Munoz’s legal career path. First, he was awarded a spot in the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association’s Trial Advocacy Internship Program, which rotates law students through three plaintiff law firms to gain exposure to the work of trial attorneys.
“The Simon Law Group was one of the stops,” Munoz said. “I spent a month shadowing two of their senior trial attorneys in a pretty big case and trial. It was awesome. They’re unbelievable trial attorneys, and they were younger, so we just really connected. It was throughout that experience where I realized this is where I wanted to be.”
The other opportunity Munoz took advantage of that summer was attending the Graduate Program at the Trial Lawyers College, held annually at Thunderhead Ranch outside of Dubois, Wyoming, as a law student intern.
“I was working with people that have already graduated who were honing their skills,” said Munoz, “and that was really interesting because it forced me to elevate. I had no experience in the courtroom, but I was working in groups, so I had to really step up and do my best to fit in.”
Going the Distance
After returning from his Trial Lawyers College internship, Munoz started working as a law clerk at the Simon Law Group. There, Munoz has been able to take everything he has learned—in the classroom, from his mentors, and from his summer internships—and apply them to real cases. Under the supervision of an attorney, he has already tried two cases for the firm’s “Justice Team” as a certified law clerk, both of which won six-figure verdicts for the plaintiffs.
“Some people with special talent should not have to wait years and ‘pay their dues’ to be lead trial counsel,” said Robert Simon, co-founding partner of The Simon Law Group. “People should be given their shot right out of law school, and for some very special ones, while in law school. Robbie Munoz is that special talent whose time is now.”
Given his accomplishments and positive experiences with the firm so far, it’s no surprise that Munoz plans to continue working at the Simon Law Group after graduation. He said we wants to use the lessons he has learned to continue pushing himself to become a better trial attorney and advocate.
“We’re really all connected by our common pain or common struggles,” said Munoz. “In the trials that I’ve worked on, the way that translates is in trying to share with the jury that we have a human being trying to restore their life. You hope the outcome of that trial is going to provide some sense of closure and justice for the family, to the client, for everyone affected. And that it will somehow help them get as close to back-to-normal as possible.”