John R. Gerbracht has run his private practice in Socorro for several years. Located at 202 Garfield just south of the town plaza, John has been practicing law for more than 40 years. El Defensor Chieftain visited his facility to find out more.
Question: How large is your practice?
Answer: It’s myself and my paralegal secretary. Very small.
Q: What type of cases do you work with?
A: Small town law. Realestate issues, divorces, road fights, litigation. Those sorts of issues. I work strictly with private citizens. I do not work for banks, government, things like that.
Q: Why did you decide to go the private route instead of working with large companies or government entities.
A: I wanted to be my own boss. I provide anyone who walks into this office any services that I can provide and if someone is looking for a different type of legal service I refer them to somewhere else.
Q: Were you born and raised in Socorro?
A: No. I was born in Illinois, raised in Indiana.
Q: How did you come to Socorro?
A: Which time (laughs)? I moved to Socorro in 1975 because I was unable to find a job in Taos because at that time I wanted to ski so I found myself here. Then I moved to Las Cruces in 1982 and returned in 1988. I no longer desired to be in Las Cruces and still owned property here so came back and started my own practice.
Q: Having practiced in Socorro for so long is there a particular case or time period that truly stands out in your mind?
A: I think it’s all fascinating. Being able to help people deal with issues is rewarding. There are some cases like the figurative ‘Tar Baby’ that you get stuck with and can’t bail out of because that just leaves a client floating out there in the breeze.
Q: How has it been working with the Socorro County Judicial System throughout the years?
Q: It’s been decent throughout. When I first practiced here there was one judge for 4 counties. When I moved back from Cruces there were two and now there are three. But it’s always been a solid professional relationship for me.
Q: Did you always want to practice law?
A: That just kind of happened. I earned a Bachelors Degree in Government with a Minor in Economics from Indiana University. There wasn’t a lot of hiring at the time and Vietnam was firing up so I learned that you could get three years deferment if you enrolled in law school so I did.
Q: Did your father serve in the military?
A: He did yes. My father Henry was stationed in the trenches of France during WWI. He never pushed me to serve. I don’t think anyone in the trenches would pressure a person to serve in the future.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a lawyer?
A: My favorite part is when someone has a significant problem and being able to make it work out right for them when they are being taken advantage of. The least is something that happens in all walks of life. If I win that’s because of me. If I lose that’s because of you. The screws ups that you cant control are the most frustrating.
Q: Have you ever taken on cases that you did not feel comfortable doing?
A: Very few, but we all have them. There have been times when money gets a little tight and a person can pay even though the case is basically a dead chicken. But there have been very few. For the most part I am pleased of the decisions I have made in being a small town lawyer.
Q: A few random questions. What is your favorite movie?
A: There are a lot. I wouldn’t say my favorite but one that comes to mind is “Apocalypse Now” because it shows the tragedies that didn’t happen to me in Vietnam by not getting into the service at that time. It questions whether or not you would get out alive or with half a brain left.
Q: What is your favorite band or type of music?
A: I certainly like classical but I’m also a big rock fan. Rolling Stones, Dire Straits.
Q: Outside of family and work, is there a moment in your life that truly stands out as a great experience?
A: There’s a few. But the one that has always stuck out in my mind was before I moved to New Mexico and was just visiting. I was half way up the Ski area in Taos. There was a storm and I was one of the last people off the lift. It was snowing and I had the whole mountain to myself.
Q: Is skiing your main hobby?
A: It used to be. Now it’s motorcycles. I love Triumph motorcycles, my favorite brand, which I’ve had three in my life. I like being out in the open. Stormy weather is very exhilarating.
Q: If there was something you could change about Socorro county, what would it be?
A: I would say the residents and how they view each other. There is the dichotomy and stigma of ‘Techie’ and ‘Townie’. It’s tough to see the town sort of drying up when Tech lets out of school and I wish there was a way to expand and grow the city and keep more people here. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to that problem.
Open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment, the Law Office of John R. Gerbracht welcomes all clients in need of assistance in the Socorro area.