William F. Locke-Paddon '67 focuses on wills and trusts.
By Asa Pittman
To let William F. Locke-Paddon '67 tell it, he became a lawyer by chance. Forty years of helping his clients plan for the future, however, have affirmed the happenstance career as his calling. In that time, Locke-Paddon established a thriving wills and trusts specialty, earned the accolades of his peers, and improved his community in the process.
William F. Locke-Paddon, '67 and his wife, Terry
A college buddy at Stanford University first suggested that Locke-Paddon attend law school. As an English major with a wife and new baby and no post-graduation plans, Locke- Paddon didn't need much convincing. "It was a pretty casual decision," Locke-Paddon says of his choice to pursue law.
He applied to two schools: U.C. Hastings School of Law and Santa Clara Law. Locke-Paddon chose Santa Clara Law for practical and personal reasons: "I liked the campus and it was close my parents' home in Watsonville."
Unlike most full-time law students, who obsessed primarily over grades, Locke-Paddon's foremost concern in law school was his growing family. "Two of my kids were born while I was in law school. They always seemed to come around finals time," he jokes. To cover his family's expenses, he worked as a manager of his parents' real estate properties. "It was difficult," he says of the hectic period. "Sometimes I didn't get home until midnight."
Despite his many responsibilities, Locke-Paddon thrived academically in law school. He was accepted into Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, joining the ranks of President Woodrow Wilson and Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, and became notes and comments editor of the Santa Clara Law Review. One of his favorite classes was Professor Jerry Kasner's trusts and estates course. "Kasner was a great instructor and I liked reading the tax codes," he says.
After graduation, Locke-Paddon returned to his home town of Watsonville and joined the general practice firm of Wyckoff, Parker, Boyle, and Pope. H.C. Wyckoff, the semiretired, named partner, mentored Locke-Paddon and tutored him for the bar exam. "He was a magnificent writer," says Locke-Paddon. "He would spend a whole day on a letter."
Locke-Paddon stayed with Wyckoff 's firm for 29 years. Early on he discovered a penchant for transactional work, particularly wills and trusts. "I enjoy teaching people, explaining their options to them," he says. His aptitude for the work earned him prestigious clients, including June Borina Schnacke, the first female district attorney in Santa Cruz, and wife of Judge Robert Schnacke. She appointed Locke-Paddon executor of her will and in accordance with her wishes, in 2003 he established the over $30-million June Borina Schnacke Foundation to benefit Watsonville charities. He describes such foundations as a "service to donors who wish to use the funds in perpetuity for their community."
Like his clients, Locke-Paddon invested his resources in philanthropic ventures. In 1982, he helped found The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County. "Community foundations are a conduit for large foundations to funnel their money down to small communities," he explains. Locke-Paddon also served on the board of the Cabrillo College Foundation and was president of the Pajaro Valley United Fund and Santa Cruz County United Way. In recognition of his efforts, he received a Judge Rollie Hall Public Service Award in 2003, and, in May 2008, the Trial Lawyers of Santa Cruz County honored him with a public service award.
When Wyckoff, Parker, Boyle, and Pope closed in 1996, Locke-Paddon moved his wills and trusts practice to Aptos, where he lives. Word-of-mouth advertising affords him a steady clientele. The career that he chose by chance, he says, has afforded him a rewarding and autonomous lifestyle: "I take only the issues I like, I enjoy, and I'm good at."
ASA PITTMAN is a student at Santa Clara Law.