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About

Richard Koman

So, this isn’t going to be the standard lawyer website “about” page. I’m not going to use a bunch of adjectives to describe why you should choose me to represent you. I don’t find those things convincing. If you’re reading this, if we work together, we will spend the better part of a year together and I think I ought to be up-front about my story without trying to turn it into a commercial.

I have a journalism degree from George Washington University but I took equal amounts of classes in political science and English lit. At my essence, I think, I will always be a writer. After college, I had zero interest in law school or lawyers, even though I had a job as a court runner for a big-shot D.C. law firm. I grew up in the age of Watergate and I was inspired by All The President’s Men. I was not bound for the Washington Post, though.

I wound up working as a reporter, editor and book author in the realm of technology. I worked for the techie publisher O’Reilly, co-authored The Mosaic Handbook (raise your hand if you know what Mosaic was), wrote the GIF Animation Cookbook, and was instrumental in important books like Web Design in a Nutshell and JavaScript for Designers.

I am not super-technical and I have never found technology fascinating in and of itself. But the promise of the Internet at the time was that communication, publishing, news, and everything could be fundamentally different. These ideas, and the mentorship of Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty and Brewster Kahle, led me to focus on a series of interviews with Professor Larry Lessig, then at Stanford Law. He brought a case called Eldred v. Ashcroft, which he eventually argued, and lost, before the U.S. Supreme Court.

That led me to work with Brewster at the Internet Archive on a project called the Internet Archive Bookmobile. Brewster rigged up a satellite and a printing operation and we drove the thing from Palo Alto to Washington in time for the Supreme Court arguments. I wrote an article for Salon on the adventures: Riding Along with the Internet Bookmobile.

Fast forward a couple years and I found myself working with Brad deGraf and Kevin Cloud taking the concept to of all places Uganda, working with the National Library in Kampala. The creation was the Uganda Digital Bookmobile (Internet was not so good there), which eventually made its way to schools and libraries in the greater Kampala area. It was covered in Wired among other outlets, and I wrote a piece for O’Reilly, too.

All of this, interested me in digital rights and the law. So I went to law school. Passed the Bar. Then what? Not much work in digital rights in Sonoma County. I volunteered at Sonoma County Legal Aid. Learned (the hard way) about evictions, and tenants rights, and how to make my way through this particular area. Just as I hung a shingle, the housing crisis hit and while it’s different from the foreclosure crisis of the 2008 period, it’s no less important or intense today.

Over the last 10 years, my focus has always been housing cases. At any given time, I have six to 10 active cases. All told, I’ve been able to collect several million dollars for my tenant clients over the years. My intention with the site and the blog especially is to educate people on their rights, how to protect themselves, and even how to do your own housing case.

So poke around.