Alain Bonavida ’05 - A Fast Start

By, Betty Lynne Leary

The year 2005 marked many new beginnings for Alain Bonavida. With his new bride on one arm and a fresh degree from the Washington College of Law in hand, Bonavida moved back to his hometown of Los Angeles to establish his law practice and begin the next chapter of his life.

Tackling contract work while building up his client base, Bonavida was contacted by Joseph Fahs who saw Bonavida’s ad for legal services on the online network Craigslist. Fahs was being sued by Georges Marciano, the founder of Guess? Incorporated and Fahs’ former employer. Marciano alleged in his lawsuit that Fahs and four other employees committed fraud and conspiracy to deprive Marciano of more than $400 million in money, art, wine and other assets.

“No one wanted to take on Marciano due to his resources, but I thought the case sounded interesting,” Bonavida says. And thus started an 18-month, merry-go-round of events that included 17 changes of counsel for Marciano. After the lawsuit was eventually dismissed by the courts, Bonavida countersued on Fahs’ behalf for defamation and emotional distress. The four codefendants also retained counsel and joined the countersuit.

In July 2009, after hearing many hours of live testimony and reviewing dozens of exhibits, a jury found Marciano liable to each of the claimants for a total award of more than $370 million. It was the largest jury verdict awarded in the country in 2009.

“Mr. Fahs was being victimized by a wealthy and powerful person, and I welcomed the challenge. Justice was served,” Bonavida says. “It was an amazing experience and a litigator’s dream. But since it was my first case, I thought, where do I go from here?” he adds laughing.

As a law student at WCL, Bonavida got hooked on fighting for the underdog in the Clinical Program.

“I was in the Civil Practice Clinic my entire third year of school,” he explains. “My clinic partner and I worked all year on a very difficult custody case for a woman and her small child. We went to trial and won full custody for her plus child support.”

Bonavida found the first year of law school to be an challenging experience but adds, “I loved going to law school. WCL is very student-centric and the professors always have open doors. They are extremely helpful, phenomenal people.”

Bonavida enjoys sharing his WCL experiences with West Coast residents who are either newly admitted to the school or who are considering attending WCL.

“I try to attend all the alumni events I can as the school tries to build more of a WCL presence here on the West Coast,” Bonavida says. “I loved law school and I like to share that. It was the best educational experience I ever had.”

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