Fay Arfa, NBTA certified in Criminal Trial Advocacy, takes her place in our member spotlight this week. Attorney Arfa holds both undergraduate and Master's degrees from UCLA. After several years in public service, she attended law school at night and earned her law degree while continuing to work full time. Fay dedicates herself to helping all people accused of crimes. She prides herself on giving personal attention and pulling out all the stops, and she fights as hard as she can for all of her clients to make sure they get the most vigorous defense possible.

Where did you go to law school?
Southwestern University School of Law  

How long have you been in practice?
35 years 

Where are you licensed to practice?
California

Why is NBTA membership important to you?
NBTA membership shows that an attorney has been recognized by a nationally certified organization. NBTA membership shows the attorney meets objective qualifications of excellence. NBTA members must have achieved a level of professional experience, must be vetted by their peers, must pass an examination, must submit writing samples, and must have completed education requirements.

What would you say to another attorney about why they should become board certified?
I would encourage attorneys to become specialized in their fields of practice. Being certified by a national specialty board helps consumers select a qualified attorney and helps other attorneys refer consumers to a qualified attorney who specializes in the requisite area of law.

In what areas of law do you have expertise beyond your NBTA certification?
Appellate Law, Juvenile Law, Post Conviction (habeas corpus)  

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I always respected lawyers. I believed lawyers expressed themselves eloquently and that people respected lawyers. I thought I could contribute to society and make the world better by becoming a lawyer. I also wanted to develop my own legal practice, which I could do with my MPA degree.  

What made you choose the area of law in which you practice?
I love to be in trial and I love the subject matter. I like solving problems and helping people who do not understand the criminal justice system. Many people who seek my services need help understanding and dealing with the maze of the criminal justice system. I hope I make their lives easier during what can be the most traumatic event in a person's live - being criminally charged by the government.  

In your opinion, what makes a successful lawyer?
Hard work. Diligence. Caring about the clients. Never give up and always doing your best.

What's been most rewarding about your career?
As a first generation American, I believe and respect the American system of justice. Things I find rewarding are helping people get out of the criminal justice system and move on with their lives. I see injustices in the criminal justice system and am always so pleased to tell a person their ordeal is over, they are free and I can wish them the best.

What advice would you give to a young professional considering law school?
Best decision I ever made in my life. I really enjoyed law school even though I worked 40 hours per week. I already had a post graduate degree (MPA from UCLA), but law opened a whole new world of opportunity for me. I opened my own law firm, practiced a area of law that I love, and have a profession, not just a job.

Share an example(s) of a case that made a difference.
The case of Daniel ClarkeDaniel Clarke is a free man at last, serving 10 years of a 32-years-to-life sentence based on a false claim of rape. Forensic evidence proved that Clarke’s accuser took a knife to her own chest, thighs and genitalia, falsely accusing Clarke to keep him from gaining custody of their son. After conviction, Clarke hired me, and we fought for him over ten years, two trials and two reversals on appeal. We were able to uncover the government’s wrongfully concealed forensic evidence showing that Clarke’s accuser – the mother of his children -- had deliberately cut herself. I always believed in his innocence; the crime here was that Clarke lost ten years of his life to imprisonment. We were thrilled with his release. 

What is your mission as a lawyer?
To help people fight the injustice of the criminal justice system; to seek freedom for the wrongly accused; to make sure everyone guilty or innocent has a fair shake.  

What causes are important to you and why?
Holocaust remembrance - my mother and father survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. The Nazis murdered my grandparents, uncles and aunts. My brother was born in a displaced person's camp in Germany.