Josh Venegas is usually the first voice anyone hears when they call Hill Law Firm. He handles all of our intake call, medical records, and generally helps out wherever and whenever needed. He never leaves without asking if there is anything else we all need. Clients love him and there is a reason why. He was raised and lives just a mile or so down the road from the office. Learn more about Josh.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis.
Justin: All right. Welcome to another episode of the Hill Law Firm Cases podcast. We’re doing a series called Meet the Team. We think it’s important that we give our clients and potential new clients a little bit of information about who we are as people, and especially during the shutdown and especially during these times where we see each other less and less. I think it’s important people can put a face to a name and a name to some background information. I’m here with Josh Venegas right now. Hi, Josh.
Josh Venegas: Hola, boss man.
Justin: Thank you for being here.
Josh: No worries. Thank you for having me.
Justin: Josh, I’ve got some questions for you. I want to just get some information from you. We’re going to put it on our website. We’re going to have it on our podcast. We’re going to have it on our YouTube channel as well, if you even know we have one of those.
Josh: I did not know we had a YouTube channel, but all right.
Justin: All right, Josh, how long have you lived in San Antonio?
Josh: All my life.
Justin: Born and raised?
Josh: No, I was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. We moved over to Houston before I could even walk, and then, slightly after, we moved here to San Antonio. I mean, my whole life has been here.
Justin: I think you’ve told me you’ve lived in the same general part of San Antonio the whole time too.
Josh: That’s right. I used to live– The first house that we lived at was on Blanco and Fulton. Then, once I hit 15, we moved over here by, I would say, San Pedro and Fresno would be the closest cross streets.
Justin: Okay. Really, the near central, just north of downtown part of San Antonio.
Josh: Yes, that’s where I’ve been my whole life.
Justin: You went to Edison?
Josh: I went to Agnes Cotton Elementary, Mark Twain Middle School, and then, I went to Edison.
Justin: Mark Twain is now a Spanish immersion maybe or something.
Josh: I drive by there and it’s– I don’t know. It’s just completely-
Justin: It’s some sort of magnet. I think.
Josh: It’s something. They changed the entrance of [unintelligible 00:02:20].
Justin: You’re from San Antonio, but you were born in Mexico. Do you speak Spanish?
Josh: Yes, very much so.
Justin: I think that’s important for a lot of our clients to know we’ve got you who speaks really good Spanish, Marisa who speaks less good Spanish, and me, who doesn’t speak much. I mean, I can get around Mexico if I have to.
Josh: It’s good, though. At least, the basics.
Josh: Hola. Como estas?
Justin: I’ve been told my accent is so thick people can’t understand what I say anyway.
Josh: Yes, there’s no point?
Justin: Yes, right? Before you came and worked here, you had worked in other law firms. About how long had you worked in the legal world or other law firms?
Josh: I was working for Heard & Smith. They’re a disability firm. I was there for roughly about seven years, six and a half, seven years. That was the only other job that I’ve had that is considered like a law firm job.
Justin: You’re still pretty young, so that’s the majority of your adult working life was at a different law firm.
Josh: Pretty much, yes.
Justin: The majority of your working adult life has been law firms.
Josh: Is in law firms, yes, pretty much.
Justin: I don’t want you to say anything ill about your previous employer or any reason you left, but there was something that made you apply here. What made you apply at my law firm?
Josh: Just the different scenery as well as– I always say that you don’t leave a job, you leave a manager or supervisor.
Josh: It was just not a good work environment.
Justin: Time for a change.
Josh: It was time for a change, yes. Things that I needed, I never had at that time. We would have to go back and do our job over again because they would tell us everything at the end of the week, “Oh, by the way, you need to do this when you’re doing that.” It’s like, “You could’ve told us that on Monday. We could have done it the whole week.” It was double the work for what we were doing. I don’t know if you guys ever mess with Social Security benefits, but dealing with that office-
Justin: It’s tough.
Josh: – any Social Security office, it’s very tough.
Justin: But you wanted to stay in the legal world?
Josh: Yes, definitely.
Justin: Any reason why?
Josh: I just had an interest in it. I remember when I was in the fifth grade, my teacher wanted me to become a lawyer, and I was like, “No, I want to be an architect. I want to draw. I want to be an architect.” I eventually went to school for architectural drafting. It was not what I was expecting. I just stumbled upon Heard & Smith. They were like, “Hey, we’re hiring.” It was like, “We need a Spanish speaker.”
Justin: It’s never too late to go to law school, Josh.
Josh: No, never too late.
Justin: Never too late. We’re a small firm, so it’s funny titles here. I think they’re funny. You handle all the intake. You’re the first person people see when they come. You handle a lot of the front of the house stuff. I mean, you do a bunch of things here. You went from a big law firm. Heard & Smith is a big law firm, a lot of people, a lot of employees, tons of clients. What has been some of the biggest changes for you going from a large law firm to- we’re a boutique, small law firm?
Josh: Just the, I guess, the attention that we put to the clients because you’re right, Heard & Smith was– I mean, we had clients all over the country. It was a nationwide law firm. People would call in, and they would literally just be a number. “What’s your Social Security number? Okay. Thank you, Mr. Smith.” Having worked here, it’s not a big load. It’s very– What’s the word I’m looking for?
Josh: Yes, very much so. I feel that it’s a lot more personal when you don’t have a lot of cases to look over.
Justin: It better be.
Josh: You can actually speak with a client and remember, “Oh, yes, I spoke with you just last week. I said this, this, and this.” Having to work with a big firm, you couldn’t really keep tabs on who you spoke. You would have to look into the notes. By the time you scroll over note after note after note, it’s not even worth it.
Justin: I had a client tell me recently that you are her best phone friend.
Josh: Is that- [crosstalk]
Justin: Let’s not use names.
Justin: We did have a client say you’re her best phone friend because you’ll spend so much time on the phone.
Josh: Like I said, I build a rapport with people.
Justin: Yes, you should.
Josh: Especially being in this line, you got to be like, “Hey, how are you doing? Are you doing all right? If you need anything, let us know.”
Justin: It’s the worst moment in their life a lot of times and it’s important they have somebody they can talk to.
Josh: That’s good. That’s a good way to put it, yes.
Justin: What is your favorite thing about working here?
Josh: Honestly, it would have to be the people. It would be Marisa and you. Marisa always includes me when making a decision. “Hey, what do you think we should do here?” She always makes me feel part of the team.
Justin: You are. [laughs]
Josh: Justin, the boss man, I’ve never had a boss like Justin, like you. You listen to what I have to say. You give your input. You look out for your employees, whether it be here at work or, “Hey, be safe at home, don’t do anything crazy, use Uber, do your thing.” That’s the real main thing.
Justin: I hope you all are looking out for me, too. [laughs]
Josh: Definitely, definitely. That’s the main thing. The smaller firm, it’s more personal.
Justin: It’s the family feel.
Josh: Very much so. Marisa and I, she’s like my sister. We mess around with each other.
Justin: Your wife is here.
Josh: Yes, exactly.
Justin: I talked to Marisa about this. Marisa went from the first step in the door, never being involved in a law firm, now, she’s head paralegal. She’s Jack-of-all-trades. What are you hoping to do next here? What do you want to learn? What are some of the things you’ve seen here and thought, “I want to know more about that”?
Josh: It really is what Marisa’s doing, actually. She was the one that trained me to do what I’m doing now. Having her do that and then having her do the whole paralegal thing, she really does a lot. I really do got to give credit to her. She would help me out, and yet, still have time to do her job. That’s what I’m really wanting to do.
Justin: It’s a steep learning curve once you really start getting into it.
Josh: Exactly, yes. I didn’t really know a lot about personal injury until I started working here, but she made that transition so easy. It was really good to have her there.
Justin: You were new here, but her transition was very abrupt. She went from doing what she was doing to me saying, “Now, it’s time.” She was very uncomfortable, but she found her way to swim. She’s doing a great job. No names, general details if you want to, any cases here that just stood out and changed your perception of the firm or the practice? Me and Marisa talked about a case, we represented a woman whose husband passed away in a crash. She talked about how that was just such a big moment for her emotionally to see what we do has such important implications for some people.
Some of the cases we’ve worked on have not been big numbers. Some of the most important cases for me, for example, I represented a young lady who was a victim of sex trafficking. I was right out of law school and the case went on for eight or nine years. It was never a huge number because there were no big numbers to get, but it was such a big thing for me as a lawyer, learning the process and realizing how important it was to not only change policy, but we changed some laws on that case. Has there been any cases you’ve seen here and you thought, “Wow, this really changes my perception or perspective of what we do”?
Justin: No names.
Josh: Without saying any names, he had a cut on his arm and he was a Spanish speaker. That was really the first case I had my hands in. Since I was pretty much the guy that speaks Spanish here, they would kind of just, “Hey, I need you to ask him this. Make sure you ask him that.” It also gave me an idea of what the paralegals do on their end. That specific case really stands out.
Justin: I don’t know, were you here when we signed that case or did you start right after we signed it?
Josh: It was right after we had started.
Justin: Because they called multiple times, and I told them that I would help them try to settle their case on their own and that they didn’t need me because all they could tell me so far was that he had about half-inch scar on his arm. That’s all.
Justin: The calls kept coming. She kept calling me, and I kept talking to her and telling her like, “This process probably isn’t right for you.” Then, calls and says he can’t make a fist anymore. It was the first time that we know, “Oh, there’s a structural problem.” It’s not just a half-inch scar which is what they had told us. Turns out, he ends up having eight or nine ligaments severed in his hand, forearm. He had lost use of his arm, strength in his arm, and he was a non-English speaking, concrete worker, who really, more than most of us, needed use of his hands, and he needed them to be strong. It was a real interesting case for me too, but yes, I understand. I mean, that was a– We had a great result for a guy who I had originally told him, “I can’t represent you.” I mean, it’s just things go that way sometimes.
Justin: All right. You’re effectively born and raised in San Antonio. We’ve attended some fiesta events together. Do you have any favorite fiesta event?
Josh: I would have to say, the Day Parade.
Josh: Yes. Not so much the parade itself but I guess what goes on around the parade.
Josh: The first time I ever went was maybe about four or five years ago and– Never been to the Day Parade. I’ve always gone to the Night Parade but never been to the Day Parade, and a group of friends, they just dragged me out there. It was the most fun I’ve had at fiesta.
Justin: If it’s not too hot.
Josh: Yes, I know. We did- [crosstalk]
Justin: Where’d you sit?
Josh: We didn’t sit. We walked because we lived right behind where the parade ended.
Josh: The Finesilver building. We just walked it. We walked the whole thing.
Josh: We ended up by the Alamo Plaza. There was like a bar or club back there somewhere. We ended up there.
Justin: That’s where the news has its stage set up, at the Alamo Plaza.
Josh: Yes, all that. We were behind the- because we went past the Alamo and we ended up going like a block down to like a bar. I think it was a club. I’m not really sure.
Justin: Yes, well, sometimes that happens during fiesta.
Josh: Yes, I know. It was great. That was like the best time I had.
Justin: Are you a Spurs fan?
Josh: Oh, very much so.
Justin: Favorite Spurs player?
Josh: It’s a toss-up between Manu and Duncan.
Justin: Okay. I mean, all good choices.
Josh: Toss-up between Manu and Duncan.
Justin: I didn’t know if you were going to go somewhere strange and you’re like, “Brent Barry.”
Josh: Brent Barry? Sean Elliot, with that miracle shot?
Josh: I remember being there.
Justin: You’ve got a young daughter. What is one of y’all’s favorite things to do in the city? Do y’all go to the DoSeum or museums or the River Walk or anything y’all like to do here?
Josh: She likes to go to the zoo. The thing about that is, I take her to the zoo, as soon as we pass the elephants, she’s like, “I’m good to go.” [laughs] She just wants to go see the elephants, and then, she wants to go.
Justin: She knows what she likes.
Josh: Yes. Other than that, we just pretty much stay home. She likes to draw a lot, so we’re always on different drawing apps. She’s always messing with her iPad and things like that.
Josh: If we’re going out, she’s like, “Dad, let’s go to the zoo.” It’s like, “All right, well, let’s go.” Then, as soon as we hit the elephant– I always try to go around the elephants to make sure we get that last but she’s like, “No, dad. It’s this way.”
Justin: I think they’re going to try to combine some of the exhibits there so that the giraffes and the zebras and maybe the elephants and rhinos all can go in between-
Josh: I heard that.
Justin: – the habitats. They’re doing something.
Josh: Yes, I saw like on Facebook. For the whole quarantine thing, I saw them on Facebook, and they were like, “We’re going to be putting in–” There were people asking questions. They were like, “Are the rhinos going to the okay with the giraffes?” They were like, “Yes, I mean, everyone’s pretty cool.” [crosstalk]
Justin: They’ve got the ostriches in there too.
Josh: Yes, they do.
Justin: Which look gross when you see them up close. [laughs]
Josh: Yes, I don’t like them. They look weird. It’s like a furball with a long neck.
Justin: All right, Josh, thanks for doing this. Thanks for all you do here. We’ll do this again. I think it’s important because, as you know, we have so many clients that just decline to even want to come in. They’ll just do everything by phone so it’s important they can look at us and hear us know who we are as people. Thanks, we’ll do it again. Appreciate it.
Josh: Appreciate you.
[00:14:18] [END OF AUDIO]