April 27, 2020 - As a member of the labor and employment practice team at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., Stephen Quezada recorded a milestone in the firm’s Houston office.
The 2011 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center was recently promoted to shareholder - something that has not happened in the firm’s Houston office’s Labor & Employment practice group in 13 years.
“Becoming a shareholder at a firm like Ogletree is a huge accomplishment,” he said. “Ogletree is an international labor and employment firm and is very well respected by courts, other firms, and companies.”
According to Quezada, his introduction to his specialty of employment law was somewhat coincidental. At a gathering during his 1L year, he happened to sit next to Law Center alumnus Jacob Monty ‘93, a partner at Monty & Ramirez LLP and a well-known labor and employment lawyer. Upon further discussion, Monty mentioned a job opening,
“He hired me as a 1L clerk and the rest was history,” Quezada said.
Quezada didn’t consider pursuing a career in law until he was in college. Despite majoring in accounting and landing an internship at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he shifted his career in a different direction.
“After my internship, I thought that accounting would be way too boring for my liking,” Quezada said. “I considered applying to business schools, but saw that most business schools preferred applicants with work experience.
“I didn’t want to go out into the workforce and have to go back to school. I then looked at law schools and saw that there was not a preference for work experience.”
Quezada’s advice for legal professionals just beginning their careers is to commit to a heavy workload that will likely ease over time.
“You have to put in the hours and that requires you to make sacrifices,” he said. “The sacrifices are not forever, but the first three to five years of practice demand a lot of time.
“The schedule becomes better as you progress because you get faster at things and eventually get to a place where you have other associates helping you.”
When reflecting on his time as a Law Center student, Quezada said the rapport he built with classmates and section mates always brings him warm memories.
“Being in those study carrels is like being in a trench with company,” Quezada said. “Nobody knew what was going on those first few weeks but we were in it together. We played tons of practical jokes on each other, told jokes and made the time as enjoyable as possible.”