This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Jonathan Gonzalez of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP in Williamsburg. A graduate of the University of South Florida and the William & Mary Law School, Jonathan recently completed his term as Chair of VADA’s Corporate & Commercial Litigation Section. He previously has served the Section as Vice- Chair.
1. Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida.
2. Tell us a little about yourself. Spouse? Children? Pets?
I am an associate attorney with Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani, LLP in Williamsburg. I graduated law school from the College of William & Mary, where I met my wife, Kate Gonzalez. We both came to William & Mary from other states, but we both loved the Williamsburg area so much that we decided to put down roots. We currently live in Williamsburg with our dog (Argo) and our two cats (Apollo and Artemis). We both enjoy attending plays and concerts, playing board games, and discovering new foods and restaurants.
3. What type of law do you practice?
My current practice is focused on commercial litigation, including both employment law, construction law, fiduciary litigation, and insurance defense.
4. What do you like most about practicing law?
From a young age, I have always relished the opportunity to solve a complex problem. In my elementary school years, it was mazes, crossword puzzles, and the like that held my attention. Now, I love it whenever I have the opportunity to untangle a complex web of facts in a case or research the application of odd facts to under-developed case law. Often, I have as much fun creating my arguments before going to court as I do making those arguments in court.
5. How long have you been a member of VADA?
I have been a member of VADA since 2018 when I started practicing at McCandlish Holton after my clerkship.
6. What have you enjoyed most about your time in VADA?
VADA’s annual meeting is always a top-notch event that usually includes both great CLE presentations as well as great entertainment.
7. If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be and why?
If he would agree to be candid, my answer would have to be J.J. Abrams so that I could ask him what his vision for Star Wars Episode 8 would have been and to discover what really happened in the TV show Lost.
8. What movie or TV show makes you laugh the loudest?
My wife and I thought The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was a hoot! The scene in the second season where Midge Maisel’s father accidentally discovers her stand-up comedy career during an adults-only comedy set was television gold.
9. What is at the top of your bucket list?
My wife and I have always talked about traveling to Egypt to see the pyramids and take a riverboat cruise down the Nile River.
10. What book is currently on your bedside table?
I have been enjoying Crown of Slaves, which is a science fiction novel written by David Weber and Eric Flint set in the distant future.
11. What was your first job?
My first real job was selling Cutco kitchen cutlery. While the job was not exactly door-to-door sales, the sales model was somewhat similar, and I learned a lot about how to sell the idea of a product that everyone needs but no one wants to pay top-dollar to purchase.
12. If you were to walk into my office, one of the first things you would notice would be …
I keep a map of Virginia in my office with push pins designating the location of each courthouse in Virginia where I have made an in-person appearance. My goal is to at some point have appeared in every county in Virginia in at least some capacity.
13. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be …
Probably either an investigative journalist or a political journalist, which was the path I had originally set out to travel in college. However, apparently McCormick spices recently advertised a job for a “Director of Taco Relations” that I think I am eminently qualified to hold.
14. What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
I find that cooking is a great stress reliever, particularly when I have enough time to prepare a real meal.
15. What would your courtroom walk-up music be?
When I was a policy debater in college, my debate partner and I used to try to get to our assigned room early before the opposing team arrived so that when the opposing team entered, we would start blasting DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” through our computer speakers. I would like to think I have matured since then. My courtroom walk-up music now would be “My Shot” from the Hamilton musical.
16. Who is your real-life superhero?
My real life superhero is my father, Ralph Gonzalez. His approach to work and life was always one of dedication and diligence both in his work and to his family, and he taught me essentially every life lesson I have ever needed.
17. What is your favorite travel spot?
I like most places with a beach. There is something about the combination of sun, surf, a beach chair, an umbrella, and good seafood that cannot be beaten.
18. What is your favorite food and drink?
Separately, my food of choice is sushi (toro fatty tuna, baby octopus, barracuda, hamachi, and tamago are among my favorites) and my drink of choice is an old fashioned. My favorite food experience; however, was at Boka in Chicago where we were enjoying a multi-course meal. For one course, the sommelier first brought us a chardonnay, which everyone at the table hated and thought tasted rotten. Then the waiter brought a cheesy pasta course and told us to take a few bites of the pasta and then to try the wine again. The transformation of the taste of the wine after eating a few bites of the pasta was that of a devil to an angel, and it gave me an appreciation for the importance of food and wine pairings that I had never experienced before that point.
19. What was your favorite subject in school?
I really loved math until the Algebra II teacher started to teach us about imaginary numbers, which I still do not really understand. Overall, I consistently enjoyed learning history.
20. What advice would you give to someone who just passed the bar?
I would suggest that anyone who has just passed the bar recognize that the learning process of practicing law has just begun. Every time I look back on something I wrote even just a couple of years ago, I cringe and think “what idiot wrote that garbage and had the audacity to submit it to any court!” Everyone jokes that the practice of law is truly just practicing and improving, but it really is true. An early failure is the beginning of a career, not the end of a career.