Sebastian Ray is an associate attorney in our office in Washington, D.C. As a member of our litigation team, we are pleased to share our Q&A with Sebastian with you.

What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I have never been one to shy away from an argument. Since I was a child, my family home was a regular forum for intellectual debate. My parents in particular helped foster my critical approach that I think naturally caused me to gravitate towards the legal field. Thinking back, I also showed an early proclivity for speech and debate. In elementary school, I was selected to give a prepared speech to the entire school, and in high school I participated in debate club.

Aside from your parents, was anyone else influential in your decision to pursue the practice of law?

My uncle, who practiced maritime law and was later General Counsel for a federal government contractor, was influential in my decision to pursue a legal career. His input on the practice of law, including pros and cons, was helpful in my decision because he is the type of person who I knew would give me practical advice without any sugarcoating.

What was your biggest surprise in transitioning from being a law student to a practicing attorney? If you could, what advice would you give yourself as a first-year law student?

I was surprised by the sheer volume of case records that attorneys must sift through to distill the facts of their case into a palatable fact pattern. As a law student, your main focus is the analysis of appellate opinions, but those opinions often contain only a cursory overview of the facts and events leading to the case. This can result in law students not fully grasping the exceedingly important trial work done to develop those facts—work that precedes the appellate opinions studied by law students. If I could give myself advice as a first-year student, it would be to take more time studying the trial-level events that lay the groundwork for appellate opinions.

What do you enjoy about being an associate in a litigation practice?

I think my favorite aspect of being an associate in litigation practice is the challenge. As a judicial clerk before joining Marzulla Law, I had the opportunity to draft appellate opinions, requiring an objective and adjudicatory approach. Litigation provides something different: Rather than being an umpire, calling balls and strikes, in litigation you are a player in the game. And as a litigator, you might lose. Litigation wins rarely come easy. This is especially true at Marzulla Law, where we litigate almost exclusively against the DOJ. This sort of challenge and the competitive nature of litigation is a big part of what draws me to litigation practice.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time I try to get in as much sporting time as I can. Baseball was my sport of choice through college, but now you are more likely to find me playing a tennis match or working on my golf swing at the driving range. The great thing about tennis and golf is that you don’t need a whole team to play. I also like to spend my free time discovering new music or cinema, especially by independent artists or directors that might not be featured at the box office.

What do you particularly enjoy about working at Marzulla Law?

I would first reiterate my answer above to the question of what I enjoy about litigation practice (the challenge). I also thoroughly enjoy the boutique nature of Marzulla Law, which lends to a close-nit office culture. It is an exceedingly rare thing to be able to work so closely with top-tier litigators like Nancie and Roger Marzulla just 3 years out of law school. Finally, I really enjoy the number of high-quality, cutting-edge cases we litigate at Marzulla Law. At some firms, the majority of cases are legal slam dunks, with only a very small set of cases that could actually have an impact on the overall state of the law. At Marzulla Law, the experience is just the opposite. The cases we litigate routinely involve resolution of legal issues that could substantially impact federal law.

How did you get your start in the legal field?

My first job in the legal field was in the intake department for a personal injury firm in Jacksonville, FL. This job helped expose me to the intricacies of legal work and provided useful experience for interacting with clients and effectively addressing their concerns and questions about the legal process.

Any advice would you give to someone starting out in the legal field?

My advice to someone entering the legal profession would be don’t do it for the money. While you can certainly make money in a legal career, I have no doubt that with the same level of work and cognitive capacity you could likely be making just as much money doing something else (possibly more). Money might be a factor, but it should never be the factor. As with any other career, it’s important that the work is stimulating and something you enjoy doing.

If you could live in any other time period, what would it be?

I’m quite happy to have been born during a time with running water, air conditioning, and heating. But if I could live in another time period, I would have to choose ancient Greece. The opportunity to witness the longest standing democracy in action and to converse with the godfathers of philosophy first hand would be too good to pass up.

What is your favorite part about living in Washington D.C.?

I am a big fan of public transportation and a walkable city. I grew up in a small town in Florida that was lacking in public transit and required a multi-mile drive wherever you wanted to go. The great part about living in D.C. is that the whole city is accessible through public transit, and the boroughs are close enough that you can walk between them if you have the motivation.

Favorite quote?

“So we’ll argue and we’ll compromise and realize that nothing’s ever changed.
For all our mutual experience, our separate conclusions are the same.” – Billy Joel, Summer Highland Falls

Favorite movie?

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

Favorite book?

Plato’s Republic

Favorite fast food?

McDonald’s

Thank you, Sebastian!