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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Ex-Juvenile Delinquent Becomes Mastermind in Legal Affairs

Eddie Rodriguez used to spend his time avoiding the law. Today, his life revolves around it.

As a corporate attorney at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo in San Diego, Rodriguez spends his days counseling wireless technology and medical device companies on building their business, raising money, going public, and buying and selling companies.

It’s a far cry from an earlier life of crime on the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Rodriguez, 41, was born in Hong Kong. The year was 1967, and while Hong Kong was reeling from pro-Communist riots, San Francisco was experiencing a summer of love. The Beatles, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane were releasing psychedelic rock albums.

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Shortly after his birth, Rodriguez’s mother, Irene, married a merchant mariner who was stationed in the area. He adopted Rodriguez, and was soon sent to San Francisco.

Legal challenges would prevent Rod & #173;riguez’s mother from taking him with her , the law in Hong Kong prevented families from adopting and leaving the country , so she left Rodriguez behind with relatives when he was 3 years old.

In the government housing projects where Rodriguez lived with eight others, crowded living spaces offered little privacy.

Once he was allowed to enter the United States in 1973, Rodriguez joined his parents in an apartment near Chinatown.

Turning Point

While his father was away on duty and his mother was earning a living as a housekeeper, Rodriguez hung around the streets of Chinatown and joined a gang, which led to his arrest in the third grade. Police interrogated him but never charged him with a crime.

When his mom arrived at the police station, she was accompanied by a man whose home she had cleaned in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood. The man, Millard Rosenblatt, offered to pay for Rodriguez’s private schooling in an effort to keep him out of trouble.

By day, Rodriguez was attending classes and earning straight A’s, but at night he continued to keep company with gang members in Chinatown.

Eventually, good grades earned him an academic scholarship to attend UCLA, where he joined Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, majored in political science and met his wife, who lived next door.

“I met a whole different group of people, saw a whole other part of the country,” Rodriguez said. “It was a very different perspective on how people lived and it kept me out of the Bay Area for some time.”

John Duca, a college roommate who later became Rodriguez’s best man at his wedding, says people would sometimes challenge Rodriguez’s abilities, and find themselves sorely mistaken.

While watching a kung fu flick in their dorm room, Rodriguez’s roommates read off English subtitles. Rodriguez, who spoke fluent Cantonese, said he could understand the dialogue. His roommates didn’t believe him, but Rodriguez rattled off the entire conversation.

“He’s one of the most unassuming individuals I’ve ever met,” Duca said.

Not A Fan Of Litigation

Unsure whether he would study business, medicine or law, Rodriguez says he chose law while in the middle of a lengthy Stanford University admissions application. Medical school involved too many student loans, and he eventually settled on corporate law.

“I knew I didn’t want to be a litigator. I’m not a big fan of litigation,” Rodriguez said. “Growing up the way I grew up, you didn’t resolve disputes in a courtroom.”

After passing the state bar exam, Rodriguez joined the Los Angeles office of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. A trip to San Diego was all it took for him to know he wanted to move his family there, and, in 1996, he headed for Brobeck’s San Diego office.

Rodriguez, who regularly sleeps two hours a night, says he and his colleagues worked into the early hours of the morning during the dot-com boom.

“Associates were billing 2,000 hours a year, easy,” he said. “When the dot-com bubble burst in ’01, we didn’t know how to go home.”

When Brobeck dissolved, Rodriguez joined Fish & Richardson in 2002 and helped build the firm’s corporate practice.

Jeremy Hayden, a Mintz Levin attorney who also worked with Rodriguez at Fish, says Rodriguez built his practice from scratch.

“He’s highly motivated,” Hayden said.

In 2006, Rodriguez, Hayden and 10 other colleagues left Fish to open the San Diego office of Mintz Levin.

Rodriguez, a partner in the firm’s Carmel Valley office, which employs 32 attorneys, has represented Mintz clients in more than 200 mergers and acquisitions, and assisted investors and private companies in private equity financings valued at more than $200 million.

One of his biggest deals involved Biogen Idec’s $250 million purchase of San Diego-based Conforma Therapeutics.

Rodriguez, who lives with his wife of 14 years and two children in Poway, says he doesn’t always think about work, but his colleagues probably think he does.

“I’m just as happy sitting at home playing Mastermind with my kids,” he said. “I’m kind of a homebody.”


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