Introducing Meet the Attorney: Soniya Khemlani
Introducing the return of our “Meet the Attorney” series! Walsworth has more than 50 attorneys, each with their own story, and the firm would like to share some of them with you.
Soniya Khemlani is an Equity Partner at Walsworth and a ten plus year attorney at the firm. Soniya is from Placentia, California and stayed in the Orange County area through college. She is fluent in Sindhi, a language spoken in parts of India and Singapore.
As an attorney, Soniya focuses her practice on local and national clients in a wide variety of civil litigation matters, including products liability, premises liability, real estate, and various general liability and business litigation matters. Soniya is one of the founders of Walsworth’s pro bono committee, a member of the marketing team and she has been an active member of the California Minority Counsel Program for over three years. Soniya has also served on the Leadership Counsel for Public Counsel, the largest pro bono public interest law firm in the nation.
Here are Soniya’s answers to questions posed about her life as a diverse attorney with Walsworth:
What does being part of the Walsworth Family mean to you?
Walsworth has been a home from the beginning of my legal career, a source of growth and the opportunity to be the best version of myself. I’ve learned from my peers and have been able to evolve in a positive way both personally and professionally.
What does it mean to you to work in a diverse law firm like Walsworth?
I’ve been working at Walsworth for over 10 years – even before I got my California bar results. I had worked at other law firms prior and, looking back, I was one of the few diverse persons at those firms. I think that working at Walsworth has helped me find my own voice and use it. I can bring to the table what I do know and being in this diverse environment helps me open up my mind to different perspectives which also reinforces my own strengths. I’m able to see so many viewpoints and not just as they apply to cases we’re working on.
If everyone is the same, and you have one person who is different, and they are acting a certain way or doing a certain thing, it can be hard to see why that person may be like that. But when you have access to a group of people from all different backgrounds and experiences, you can pull from, and relate to, at least one part of that person and use that commonality to strengthen yourself and the group. Beyond color, our attorneys are from many generations and I’ve been able to gain so much from the older attorney’s background, knowledge and experience. The end result of so many different types of diversity exposure has given me a lot of empathy for others and allowed me to gain knowledge and perspective.
What advice would you give other diverse candidates when they are looking for a new firm?
When looking for a new firm, I think the most important thing is to be able to relate to who you’re interviewing with and who you will be working with. I had an experience a few years ago where I traveled with an attorney from this firm who, on the surface, was nothing like me. We ended up having great and productive time together and I learned so much from her in just a few days. I felt connected to her and a lot has come from that opportunity and bond. You don’t have to be exactly like someone else at the firm, you just need to relate, understand or value some aspect of who they are. These connections have increased my professional happiness even though my job as a litigator can be stressful.
How do your clients benefit from working with a diverse law firm?
Clients benefit because they can get their case and the strategy looked at from a wide scope. There is also a better opportunity for the client to speak with someone who they might feel more comfortable expressing themselves to from a cultural or industry viewpoint. We have attorneys here who have worked in the District Attorney’s office, have a landscaping background, grew up in the automotive industry, studied economics and so much more. There is a good chance that a client can find the right person here for their case.
If someone were to write a book about you, what do you think the title should be?
You Are Always Growing