[quote style=”boxed”]I have learned that there really are no shortcuts in life. There is simply no substitute for hard work.[/quote]
Chris Chorba is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He is a litigator who specializes in defending consumer class actions. Chris also serves on the Board of Directors of the Good Shepherd Shelter, an organization that seeks to break the cycle of domestic violence. Since 1904, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have continued a tradition of more than 350 years of caring for women and children in abusive and inhumane situations. The shelter welcomes mothers and children of every culture, color and creed and offers them a unique environment for long-term emotional, social, educational and spiritual healing and growth. It is the only domestic violence shelter providing on-site school, therapy, legal advocacy and independent apartment units for battered women and their children. More than 90% of the families who complete the shelter’s program go on to lead healthy, violence-free lives—an incredible achievement given the recidivism rate for domestic violence.
What are you working on right now?
Through my involvement with the Good Shepherd Shelter, we are organizing a group of young professionals to join our Junior Board. We want to recruit as many professionals as we can to serve as ambassadors for the shelter in the greater Los Angeles community, promote the shelter’s cause and volunteer their time and talents to the shelter. It is a great way to become involved with a worthy cause and requires a very modest time commitment. There are no strict age cut-offs to join our group…I can personally vouch for that!
Where did the idea for The Good Shepherd Shelter come from?
In the past, I had been involved with other organizations that have junior boards. Like most nonprofits, the shelter is struggling in a down economy and we are looking for every way we can to connect to the Los Angeles community. This struck me as a nice way to do that and to start grooming the next generation of leaders for the shelter.
What does your typical day look like?
Any lawyer will tell you that his or her job involves long hours, and that is true for me, as well. But my work with the shelter is truly inspiring. I have assisted the shelter with legal issues on a pro bono basis and helped organize events.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The best way to bring ideas to life is to discuss them with your colleagues. Do not be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom or offer a creative thought. I find that most young lawyers are afraid to ask questions, but at a very early stage in my career, one of my mentors taught me that lawyers are paid for their ideas and for their thinking.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The instantaneous availability of information through the Internet and the ability to connect with old and new friends alike through social networking sites like Facebook.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job was probably my job washing dishes at a deli while I was in high school. It taught me the importance of working very hard and taking pride in my work, no matter how menial it seemed. I also learned that oftentimes you do not have anyone looking over your shoulder and that presents you with a choice—either do the best job you possibly can for your own personal reward and fulfillment or cut corners and just do a passable job. I’ve always prided myself on taking the former approach, no matter what the task.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Unfortunately there was no way to swing it financially, but I probably wouldn’t have worked so hard in college at multiple jobs and internships. I have learned that there is plenty of time to work hard in your life and you need to enjoy your free time when you have it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am constantly trying to “think out of the box” and challenge conventional wisdom. I have also developed business plans for 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years and beyond. I find that setting unrealistic goals ensures that they won’t be met. So I try to have both long-term and short-term objectives to ensure that each week I am able to make real progress on all of my goals.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have learned that there really are no shortcuts in life. There is simply no substitute for hard work.
If you could change on thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would do everything that I could to end domestic violence. Getting involved and supporting organizations like the Good Shepherd Shelter is one way to do that. If everyone reading this article sent $5 to the shelter through its website ), it would help fund the school, including needed supplies, for a full year.
Tell us a secret.
I learned how to read and write Arabic while at Georgetown University.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
Aside from the many online legal resources that I use on a regular basis, I have found several online tools to be very useful:
- Wikipedia, which is a tremendous resource to obtain a high-level overview of an unfamiliar topic.
- Social networking sites like Facebook, which is a tremendous way to connect with friends and family.
- The Good Shepherd Shelter’s website (which you just knew I was going to mention!).
What’s on your playlist?
AC/DC, Green Day and U2.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This is probably not the most appropriate response for publication, but I’ll provide it anyway. My 5 year old son was using the restroom in a restaurant and when I asked him if he was “ready” to finish, he replied, “Daddy, I was born ready.” Kids really do say the funniest things sometimes.
Who is your hero?
My father for believing in me at a very early age and always being there for me.
How can I help the Good Shepherd Shelter?
Please consider joining the Junior Board and contributing your time and talents in spreading the word about the shelter’s great work. We are looking for committed and energetic young professionals to assist our group.
How can I find the time to help when I’m so busy with work, family and other responsibilities?
This is a challenge for all professionals, but the time commitment is not great. We are looking for just a few hours a year. The more professionals who join our group, the lesser the burden on any one individual. Even if it’s just facilitating an introduction, you can help.
Please visit the shelter’s website at
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.