The building's classical Italian Renaissance-style architecture and colonnade of concrete columns beckoned Kassel into its courtrooms, where he said he would regularly observe trial proceedings and hearings.
It's how he fell in love with the law.
"Sometimes the bailiffs would run me out," said Kassel, 86, who still runs his criminal defense practice, Kassel & Kassel, with son Gregory in San Bernardino. "I knew by the time I was in high school I wanted to be a lawyer. It seemed like a good way to help people."
Little did Kassel know that his passion for law and justice would become a family affair. Both his sons, Sanford and Gregory, became lawyers and practice law in San Bernardino. And on Wednesday, Nov. 28, Kassel's grandson, 28-year-old Gavin Kassel, was sworn in by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael Dest as the newest member of the Kassel clan to become a lawyer.
"I just wanted to be able to follow in my family legacy and thought practicing law with my family would be a dream come true," said Gavin Kassel, 28, of Laguna Niguel.
While an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, Gavin, son of Sanford Kassel, studied film and initially entertained the idea of pursuing a career in the film industry. After much consideration and deciding the film business was too cut-throat for him, he opted for law school instead.
"In law you can really help out other people. You can do a service for your community," Gavin said at San Bernardino's historic Mug restaurant on Highland Avenue, where his family and friends gathered following his swearing in ceremony Wednesday.
Gavin, who graduated from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, said he's interested in the burgeoning area of Internet law, especially the areas of Internet fraud and defamation.
He said he owes a lot to his family who inspired him and the San Bernardino Superior Court judges who mentored him during his externships: Dest, Michael A. Smith and Donna Garza.
And if having a father, an uncle and a paternal grandfather in the legal profession weren't enough, Gavin's maternal grandfather, Joseph Katz, 93, is a retired San Bernardino Superior Court judge who was one of the most senior judges on the bench at the time of his retirement.
Family patriarch Philip Kassel said he never pressured his children to pursue careers in the legal profession, but is certainly happy with his sons' and his grandson's career path choices.
"I feel good about it because I'd like to think the law will benefit from Gavin because he's so interested in people and wants to help people," Philip Kassel said. "He's not interested in getting some corporate job and earning a bunch of money. He wants to help people, and I feel good about the fact these kids want to be productive and contribute to society. They're in a profession that can make a difference."
Like his father, Sanford Kassel, who specializes in civil litigation and has run his own practice in San Bernardino for more than 30 years, said he never pressured his son to enter the legal field.
"From generation to generation, no generation has pushed the other to go into law," Sanford Kassel said of his family. "We just enjoyed watching our elders do it and decided to go into it ourselves."
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