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Community Highlights: Meet Jessica Merino of Law Offices of Jessica Ponce Merino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Merino. 

Hi Jessica, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid – I seriously carried around a legal pad when I was 5 years old! I went to college and law school at the University of San Diego and started my own practice after I spent some time traveling through Peru after graduating from law school in 2011. In 2016 I moved with my daughter and husband to Los Angeles to expand the practice and gain what turned out to be a lot of trial experience. I took cases in a variety of legal fields, learning from several experienced attorneys along the way, and traveled throughout southern California and up to San Francisco, litigating cases. In May 2020, my family (now with an additional child, my son who was born in 2019) and I moved back to San Diego and settled in Encinitas, where I have set up a satellite office and expanded my practice to provide estate planning services. My Los Angeles office is still the main hub for trial cases, and I continue to travel throughout southern California trying will and trust contests, family law matters, and business disputes. My Encinitas office has an additional dimension providing estate planning services and small business formation and strategizing services. My family has fallen in love with the town and community. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has certainly been a roller coaster of sorts. Starting as a solo practitioner with young children presented its struggles. First with the fact that there was no maternity leave when both of my children were born and also in juggling the need to be completely present with my business and for my clients while setting aside time to be there for my kids and family. My husband, Martín, has been the steady foundation that keeps everything running smoothly at home which facilitates the business and practice development. With the expansion of my practice, my office has evolved to a team of associate attorneys and paralegals providing top-notch services to our clients. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We are a boutique law firm specializing in trial advocacy in several major areas, including will and trust contests, family law, and business litigation. Our office has notable jury trial experience and also has a notable appellate history. In 2021 I obtained one of the top 100 jury verdicts of California. For the convenience of our clients, we maintain two offices, one in Encinitas and one in Los Angeles. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
There is an Abraham Lincoln quote that I have turned to many times over the years: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” When I didn’t see a palatable path in the legal field after graduation, I hung up my own shingle and went into solo practice. When I started a family and wanted my business to grow and succeed, I expanded the practice to take on associates and paralegals and opened an office in Encinitas. When the pandemic hit and trials were placed on hold, I added an estate and business planning arm to the practice. Each of these decisions has led me to the wonderful place that I find myself today. The lesson I take with me is that the future is what we choose to make it and the hard work we put in gets us there.

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Gabrielle Plyley

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