Robert Glassman ‘02 graduated from Bucknell University with a BA in English (2006) and went on to Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, graduating in 2009. Rob is a trial attorney in Los Angeles and litigates large and complex personal injury, wrongful death and product defect cases on behalf of individuals. He has been recognized among the Best Lawyers in America®, named 2018 “Rising Star” in Personal Injury litigation by Law360 and recognized as a “Rising Star” by the Super Lawyers publication since 2013 where he has been consistently selected as one of the “Up-and-Coming 100 Southern California Rising Stars”, the list of lawyers who rank at the top of the Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list. Robert lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Layla, and their two daughters, Ella and Zoe.
How did Whitfield prepare you for college and beyond?
My Whitfield education taught me to live and do everything in my life with confidence, passion, and purpose. I walked away from Whitfield never feeling apathetic, never being too timid to take on a difficult project or task, and never shying away from standing up for what I believe in. Whitfield gave me that confidence, and I carried it with me through college and beyond. That confidence is still one of my most prized possessions that I carry with me in my personal and professional life today, and I have Whitfield to thank for it. I'm not so sure other high school graduates anywhere else can say something like that.
What are you most thankful for from your Whitfield experience, both in and outside of the classroom?
When I was at Whitfield, we were learning concepts and tackling important social issues as highschoolers that most people never even face as adults. We really did have a progressive education in my opinion which, at the time, I wasn't really that aware of. Now looking back at it, I truly appreciate what and how I was taught. Whether it was studying a less conventional side of history through Howard Zinn, watching Roots from start to finish or reading "Man and Microbes," a book about the spread of disease (a particularly apt and relevant subject today), I felt like I was a well-read and well-rounded young man when I graduated. But we didn't just benefit from listening to lectures. We learned through the Socratic method style of teaching. We regularly got called on by our teachers. One specific memory I have is of Shakespeare's Macbeth: we didn't just put the book down and stop. We proceeded to put Macbeth "on trial" during an awesome mock trial experience with opening statements, witnesses, and closing arguments. This was one of the earliest times in my life when I knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer.
What were your primary interests and activities while you were at Whitfield?
I absolutely loved participating in the theater program while I was at Whitfield. Sometimes I would feel like an imposter with all the other "real" theater kids who actually wanted to pursue it as a career, but it was fun for me and I think it gave me some of the skills that I use today as a trial lawyer. In fact, I think there should be more of an emphasis on theater in high schools as it really teaches students confidence, public speaking skills, and thinking on their feet. These are all important skills to have no matter what career you pursue after high school and college. Student government was another passion of mine. I'll always remember how proud I felt after I won the election for class president of my senior class knowing that at the end of the year I would be giving the commencement speech. Who knew that 19 years later I would be speaking at another Whitfield graduation, this time to the Class of 2021.
What is your message to the Class of 2021?
Whitfield will help prepare you to get to the next level like it helped me. Your college, graduate school, those places will help you too. Your family, your friends, your favorite song, your favorite book that you read in high school - all of these things may help you, may inspire you, may give you a little boost. But only to an extent. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, it is on you. You determine your future. You determine your fate. You define who you are.
Why is it important to you to give back to Whitfield?
Whitfield made me realize my potential, it helped me become confident in who I was and what I was capable of doing. All of the opportunities Whitfield gave me for six years while I was growing and learning propelled me forward into the person I am today. I hope other young people can have that same kind of experience while I was at Whitfield. In that regard, it’s important to give back and I consider it a privilege to do so.
Describe your career.
I am a trial lawyer who helps people. It's really as simple as that. I don't represent powerful companies. I represent everyday people who need help. I see on a daily basis how lopsided the system is for my clients, so I do whatever I can to help them get back on track and lead normal lives. I love my job. I love trying cases in front of juries and cross-examining witnesses. It's a lot of work but that's okay. It's also a lot of traveling around. My wife, who is also a trial lawyer, has a lot of patience! I try cases all over California, and sometimes I am gone for weeks at a time. For me, it's like a hobby or lifestyle. I don't treat it like it's a job. I think if you want to be great at something you really can't do that.