Brownstein attorney wades slowly through water court

In the early evening, attorney Jessica Diaz walks to the neighborhood well with her three-year old, and teaches her about a precious resource that she thinks about daily: water.

As an associate at Brownstein, Hyatt Farber, Schreck’s Santa Barbara office, Diaz’s area of expertise can best be described as a “winding road.” In court, water disputes slowly drip on for decades, demanding intellectual rigor and a passion for case law. But this is one aspect that she loves.

“The upside is that the water bar is really collegial,” Diaz said. “We know we’ll be in courtrooms together for the rest of our professional lives. We see babies born, kids go to college, and we still have the same adjudication pending in courts.”

During the pandemic, Diaz Zoomed through depositions from her living room. In December, she will return to a socially distanced courtroom.Diaz developed an interest in legal affairs after meeting “mission-driven lawyers” during her time as a staffer for Sonoma County. Then, she graduated from law school at UC Berkeley and clerked for a judge in Alaska.

In addition to being a single mom and practicing law full time, Diaz works pro bono. This spring, she celebrated the high school graduation of a Salvadorian teenager who she helped to secure asylum and permanent residency. And while COVID-19 has postponed lots of volunteer activities, her first vocation—politics—never leaves her mind.

“If you want to feel good about the future generation, you just need to see these young organizers,” she said. “Then you know everything will be OK.”

• The thing that’s kept your sanity during quarantine? My daughter, and the fact that I’ve taught her the word “snuggle.”