Meet The Team: Kendra Bray
Our latest installment of Meet the Team features Orange County-based partner Kendra Bray.
Kendra is proud to have enjoyed one of the most varied – and dedicated – careers at Walsworth. She began working at Walsworth in 2008, first as a file clerk during college then working worked her way up to law clerk (after law school while waiting for Bar results), associate (after passing the Bar), all the way up to partner. Kendra currently heads the firm’s fast-growing general liability practice and represents a variety of clients, primarily focusing on matters involving insurance bad faith and asbestos.
Kendra grew up on Catalina Island, where her family has lived for more than a century. Her great-great-grandfather emigrated from England after serving in the Boer War and was the first judge on the island. Her great-grandfather founded the Avalon Bay News, Catalina’s first newspaper. Despite her family’s long history on the Island, Kendra knew she did not want to stay there into her adult life. After graduating from Avalon High School as valedictorian (an achievement she downplays by stating that there were only 58 students in her graduating class), Kendra attended UC Santa Barbara, where she majored in political science and minored in history.
Sometimes being from a small town can be a blessing in disguise. While home for the summer from college Kendra met Ron Bevins, which led to an eventual offer to come work for the summer as a file clerk at Walsworth. “Growing up everyone knew I wanted to be a lawyer and Ron was pretty much one of the only lawyers that everybody knew,” she said. “A friend introduced me and Ron offered the opportunity to work at the firm to see if I liked it.”
Her experience as a file clerk helped shape her approach to practicing law at Walsworth. “I learned the importance of staff, what roles each person had at the firm, and file management,” she said. “This is not necessarily something you have the time or luxury to learn as an attorney.” She also gained institutional knowledge of Walsworth from her time at the firm prior to becoming an attorney. When she started as an attorney in 2013, her basic understanding of the structure and people who work at the firm, along with her resourceful nature, meant that she knew where to start if she had a question or needed help. “I made it my mission to learn the firm’s system, so that I did not have to rely on others,” she said. “Because of this, I have become a ‘go-to’ person when someone has a question about policies and procedures.”
Since her start at the firm, Kendra has seen many changes at Walsworth. She has also seen the firm become more diverse – a quality which she believes enhances the client experience. “Working at a diverse firm means that you have people coming from different backgrounds. Different experiences can provide insights into things you have no experience in. Talking to people about their practical experience is very helpful.”
What attracted you to defense work?
Though my practice has grown to include other areas of focus, my initial attraction to defense started during my experience as a file clerk assisting with the firm’s asbestos clients where I learned that the cases required expertise in a number of fields. As a law clerk and continuing into my work as an attorney, I was able to continue to learn about the world of asbestos. Because of the open door policy and the wide variety of clients, I was able to learn what it means to defend companies in asbestos litigation from many experienced colleagues.
For most, asbestos litigation involves the same basic claims, but it is never the same set of facts, and there is always something new. It’s never boring. Because plaintiffs can come from all walks of life and have very different occupations or sources of claimed exposure, I am constantly learning and I know a little about a lot of different topics as a result. I am able to have a conversation with many different people based on how much knowledge we need to have about so many various industries.
As far as insurance bad faith defense, it relies on the same type of attention to detail that is necessary in asbestos matters. Bad faith cases are interesting because they involve the same general premise, but the goal is to find out all the facts of the case and figure out strengths and weaknesses, and that relies a lot on learning new case law, and drawing on my knowledge of construction that I learned from my asbestos cases.
What’s the most unexpected or amusing thing you’ve experienced while practicing law?
There are so many! The unexpected part for me is how much I have learned about different types of businesses. When I started asbestos defense work, I didn’t think that I would be learning so much about so many other industries, but very happy it does. A few years ago I was at Thanksgiving dinner at the fire station on Catalina with my fireman dad, some lifeguards, and a few LA County firemen. One of the guys was lamenting about how long it was taking to repair his home due to road work that ruined the foundation of his home. He complained that every time they tried to fix the home, there was a new part of the house that was determined to have asbestos-containing materials. Without being told, and knowing his home was built prior to 1980, I identified each place in the home where asbestos was found. As I walked him step by step through his home and the repairs needed, it clicked for me that I was doing exactly the type of work I was supposed to do.
How do you recharge your batteries?
Watching any season of Real Housewives and basically any other Bravo reality show or getting together with friends for dinner.
What kind of music have you been into lately?
Not a huge music person, so I generally listen to podcasts. My favorite podcasts are interviews of Bravoleberities or their ever-growing legal troubles (don’t judge me!), Arm Chair Expert with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, and the New York Times’ “The Daily” to round out my knowledge of current events.
What is your favorite film or TV series?
My interests have not really been movies of late, but 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance are by far my favorite movies. In terms of TV, all things Bravo interest me, but if you have made it this far, you may be able to guess that the entire Housewives franchise is my favorite “series.”
What is your favorite book?
1984 by George Orwell.
What is your favorite phrase or quote?
“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg