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Cesar Ornelas On Running A Successful Law Practice

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Cesar Ornelas On Running A Successful Law Practice

Cesar Ornelas was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. In his early years, he was raised in a mobile home park.

It was during this time that Cesar Ornelas and his father would go around selling watermelons to provide for his family. Through this life lesson, Cesar learned the value of hard work and discipline.

These values translated through to his education through both college and law school, during which Cesar Ornelas supported himself by successfully starting and operating multiple companies.

After graduating from St. Mary’s Law School, Cesar Ornelas began to practice law. Since his first day in practice, he has been handling catastrophic personal injury and death cases. Since becoming a lawyer, Cesar Ornelas has done significant work for his clients throughout the state of Texas and the United States.

Cesar Ornelas is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Additionally, he has been named as a life member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is recognized as one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States and less than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

In the spring of 2021, Cesar Ornelas was selected to be a part of The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, an invitation-only program extended exclusively to those trial lawyers practicing civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law.

We recently got to talk to Cesar Ornelas to learn about what goes into running a successful business. He gave us insights into how he assesses new talent and cultivates a positive company culture.

How has the recent movement toward greater diversity and inclusion for minorities affected your business planning?

We are a minority-owned firm and we try to be as diverse as possible. About 90% of our clients are minorities as well.

We have been inclusive as it relates to diversity from day one, and we will continue to take this approach in our future business plans. 

What qualities and skills do you look for when hiring new talent?

I look for work ethic and vision. I try to find people who are willing to work as hard for their clients as I am.

Hard work and a commitment to client success are key factors I assess when looking for new talent.

What questions do you ask during an interview?

My favorite question is, “Tell me a time that you were forced to overcome adversity. What did you learn from it?”

How do you motivate your team for outstanding results?

Just like our firm rises and falls with our clients, we rise and fall with our team. Every team member is very important to the firm and me, personally. The team is rewarded when good results are achieved.

How do you help create and sustain the culture of your company?

The culture of our firm is that we are one big family. We do our best to make sure that people love their job and love coming to work. If we find that an employee does not have their heart in the mission of the firm, we begin a conversation with them regarding whether this is the right fit for them or not.

Our staff speaks directly to our clients, most of whom have been in terrible accidents and are suffering greatly. Each team member must take a compassionate approach with each client. 

How do you handle difficult clients?

We have to understand that our clients are in situations that make them extremely vulnerable. We do our best to make sure that each one is satisfied. Often this involves putting in extra hours on a case or being in constant communication with the client to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Tell us about a skill you taught yourself.  How did you go about learning?

I taught myself how to sell. I started in sales at a very young age and I was forced to sell to survive. This was the only way out of poverty for me.

Learning this skill took a lot of trial and error. The most important thing when teaching yourself a new skill is to remember that hard work pays off. If you do not get it right the first time, you must take the time and energy to learn from what went wrong. Then do the due diligence to not carry the mistakes over into your next opportunity.

What does Cesar Ornelas Law do to help the community?

For the last few years, we have had annual Turkey Giveaways for Thanksgiving, shoe giveaways for back to school, and toy drives for Christmas. We have fed thousands of families, given brand new shoes to thousands of kids, and provided Christmas to thousands of children.

We are always looking for ways to help the community, whether it be sponsoring a local baseball team or through our involvement with the rotary club. Philanthropy is at the core of our business model.

What advice do you have for someone interested in starting their own company?

Seek advice from others who have already made the mistakes that you are about to make. Additionally, never be afraid to reach out and network. Having coffee with someone who started in your shoes and is now living the life you want to live will increase your knowledge and expand your list of contacts.

There are never too many hands to shake or business cards to hand out.

What is the biggest mistake you see others making in business?

Not gathering all of the facts before a decision is made. I see other companies acting too quickly, before having had the time or ability to address the issue at hand.

What are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?

You must be willing to seek advice when needed and work around the clock in the beginning.

Networking and hard work are the main ingredients that add up to make a business successful.

It is never a good idea to take the easy way out.