Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series and in honor of Veterans Week, Will Baker, an incoming associate in the firm’s Litigation Department, discusses his service in the Coast Guard and why he chose to begin his legal career at MoFo.
I was born in Chicago and grew up in San Diego, where I learned to love the ocean, surfing, and Padres baseball. I also grew up in a mixed-race family, with my younger brother and sister having been adopted from South Korea. Visiting Seoul as a second grader was my first experience outside the U.S. and something I’ll never forget!
I left sunny San Diego after high school and, on my eighteenth birthday, I took my oath of office on the parade field of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The next four years involved navigating the rigors of cadet life: sailing the tall ship “Eagle” through a hurricane, survival suit swimming in the Bering Sea, marching in President Obama’s inaugural parade, and surviving multivariable calculus as a public policy major.
After graduating from the Academy, I served as an officer in the Coast Guard specializing in federal law enforcement and maritime security. I was stationed in Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, Virginia, with duties taking me everywhere from the northern most inhabited village in Labrador, Canada to Key West, Florida. During that time, I got to jump on fishing boats, fly in helicopters, coordinate hurricane recovery operations, and conduct congressional investigations.
After five years of active-duty service and learning to love legal work, I decided to pursue a legal career independently and headed back to southern California for law school at UCLA. After attending a MoFo recruiting event in L.A., I was thrilled to learn that MoFo had a San Diego office, spurring my unlikely journey back to my hometown.
I joined MoFo because every lawyer I met in the firm had a clear commitment to integrity and ethics that resembled the core values of “Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty” within the Coast Guard. MoFo’s attorney veterans and the “MoFo Vets” affinity group have made me feel welcome and valued at the firm, and I can’t wait to continue that experience as part of the San Diego office. The picture below is from 2009, with me standing watch for the first time on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. While I’m a bit older and wiser than the kid in the picture, I bring the same values and commitment to integrity that the Coast Guard instilled in me over a decade ago. Semper Paratus!