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Alumni Q&A With Erin Smith

Our alumni program, Loeb Reconnected, allows us to stay connected with former Loeb lawyers, regardless of where their journey takes them. In fostering this community, we take pride in learning about and showcasing their accomplishments since leaving the firm.

In this Q&A, we feature Erin Smith, who was a member of the Employment and Labor department from August 2006 until December 2020.

Catch us up! What professional and personal milestones have you achieved since your time at Loeb? 

In late 2020, I joined the Sempra family of companies, becoming the chief talent and culture officer at SoCalGas. I have since been promoted to SVP, chief talent and operations support officer, which involves leading a team of around 500 terrific people, with responsibility for all talent management functions, including those pertaining to union relations, employee and supplier diversity programs, supply chain, inventory and logistics, real estate, and fleet.  
Although the learning curve was (and still is) steep, I was fortunate to have joined a brilliant and highly collaborative executive team that always puts people first. Initially, I was very focused on understanding utility operations, the extensive regulatory landscape and the interests of SoCalGas’ key stakeholders. With support, I’ve learned to manage large budgets, shape and implement multiyear strategic plans, and build alignment and engagement across our organization. 
Looking ahead, what excites me most about the work I’m doing at SoCalGas is the opportunity to have a positive impact not only at my company but also within our communities. It’s a transformative time for energy innovation in California, and despite being a 150-year-old company, there’s a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that keeps things very interesting. SoCalGas is on a mission to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and delivery of energy by 2045. With this goal, we’ve achieved significant milestones, such as developing North America’s first clean hydrogen-powered microgrid and home, and we are advancing a project called Angeles Link—a proposal to build the nation’s largest renewable hydrogen pipeline system to serve hard-to-electrify industries.
In addition to my work, I’m in my third year on the board of directors for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which provides a great way to engage more directly in advocacy to support Los Angeles and businesses of all sizes in Southern California.
Are there any skills or lessons you acquired at Loeb that you’ve taken on your career journey?  

Although I don’t practice law in my current role, my time at Loeb equipped me with valuable skills I still use today, such as understanding our clients’ businesses, having a learning orientation and being a humble inquirer. Additionally, I honed skills such as influencing without authority, building compelling narratives, adapting my communication style to the audience, and maintaining focus and composure under challenging circumstances. Over time, practicing law taught me to be less fearful of failure and how to recover, learn and move on.
What does being a part of Loeb Reconnected, Loeb’s alumni community, mean to you? 

My 14 years at Loeb were so foundational to who I am today. I made some of my best friends, formed lifelong connections and even met my husband in 2007, when we were both associates. Loeb Reconnected is a way to hold some of these special relationships intact, fostering a network that continues to enrich my personal and professional life.
Can you share a specific Loeb memory that you are fond of? (It can be a person, a place, an occurrence, etc.) 

There are so many memories I can recall from my time at Loeb. Even things that felt like a grind at the time—like all-nighters and trials—make me smile when I think of them now. All the partner retreats, holiday events, cake days and hallway chats were, in hindsight, really important bonding opportunities. I’m still close to so many people from Loeb and will value those relationships forever.  
My happiest memory is from 2018, after a monthlong jury trial with Michelle La Mar, Barney Given and Terry Garnett. We sat anxiously through the clerk’s staccato reading of the verdict form until she finally got to the bottom line: We won. We played it cool until we got back to the temporary office we had rented across the street from the courthouse and then went nuts.     
What did you like most about working at Loeb? What about Loeb’s environment made your experience unique?  

The people. In my time at Loeb, I got to experience a very warm culture in which people genuinely cared for each other and wanted to help each other be successful. Having sponsors and mentors like Michelle La Mar, Ken Florin, Leah Bishop, Lance Jurich, Channing Johnson, Gov. Gray Davis and countless others was invaluable. I also had the opportunity to grow alongside absolute stars who now lead the firm, like Alyse Pelavin, Arash Khalili and so many others. We always cheered for each other and continue doing so to this day. It can be hard to distinguish between many law firms, but Loeb’s people and culture make it an exceptional place.