Each day, Mark A. Hernandez has two goals: First, he looks to help someone. Second, he wants to learn something new. The veteran attorney has been practicing law for more than twenty-five years, but he’s still focused on growing and developing.
“If you want to be successful, you should strive to be a little bit better every day, and the best way to do that is to help clients and learn something new,” he says.
Learn and help: by now, it’s become something of a mantra. Hernandez first developed the habit as a young attorney at Putney Twombly, where he spent most of his long career.
Hernandez has always made it a point to seek new opportunities. He was born in New York to a Puerto Rican father and Sicilian mother. The youngest of six children, he was the only child who attended law school, studying law at the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State and Fordham University. Hernandez started his career at a small law firm with offices in Brooklyn Heights, Garden City, and Washington, DC.
Like other new hires, Hernandez had to rotate through all company offices. Unlike many of the other new hires, he didn’t have a car. The long commutes tested the young lawyer’s commitment and proved his determination. Hernandez recalls walking to the subway, catching a subway to the train, transferring to a bus, and walking the remainder of the way to the office just to show up and get his entry-level experience in the firm’s labor and employment and commercial litigation groups.
The trying era proved valuable as Hernandez gained experience and interacted with partners who represented large clients, including a local village. When the village needed a prosecutor to manage traffic and code violations after hours, Hernandez volunteered. “Night court wasn’t glamorous, but it gave me the rare opportunity to try small cases as a new attorney and it prepared me to take the next step in my career,” he explains.
When some partners left to join Putney Twombly in 1996, Hernandez decided to join them. He would end up staying for nearly twenty-five years.
Within two years, Hernandez had been dubbed a “rising star” and was trying his own cases. Along the way, he picked up the creed of “learn and help” by watching and listening to the Putney Twombly partners he wanted to emulate. Hernandez started focusing exclusively on labor and employment, made partner after nine years, and became an equity partner in 2018.
In 2021, Hernandez left his firm and joined Charter Communications for the opportunity to leverage his deep skills and reinvent himself as an effective in-house lawyer. To do so, he would have to keep assisting others and learning new things each and every day.
“Partners at law firms are actually running a small business, so I felt well prepared on both the legal and business sides, but new corporate lawyers always have to learn the culture and accept that they’ll be encountering different protocols and procedures for the first time,” he says.
Charter Communications is a publicly traded Fortune 70 company with ninety-three thousand employees. Hernandez provides daily counsel to many business units regarding corporate activities and employee issues. He also monitors outside counsel on litigation matters and is part of a robust employment team of skilled attorneys, paralegals, managers, and other support staff.
The company recently announced that it is offering a minimum starting wage of $20 an hour, including target commissions for all employees, and is hiring hundreds of customer service employees and filling other positions across its forty-one-state footprint. Hernandez is advising on some of these activities and working with top executives on executing their strategic vision.
This year, Hernandez is dedicating himself to learning even more about his new company. “I have found Charter to be a collaborative environment which fosters creative solutions and pragmatic decision making,” he explains “There are so many opportunities to collaborate, learn, and be just a little bit better each day.”
Kabat Chapman & Ozmer LLP, a boutique employment and commercial litigation law firm with offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles, provides the personal attention of a small firm with the expertise and resources of a much larger firm. From its national platform, KCO represents Fortune 500 companies in matters ranging from class action defense to individual employment and complex commercial disputes. KCO’s attorneys have successfully defended clients in two hundred-plus class, collective, and representative action lawsuits, with only one case surviving certification.