The San Fernando Valley Bar Association is made up of more than 2,000 members, each of whom brings a wealth of wide-ranging experience and talents―both professional and personal―to their work in our community. The SFVBA spotlights a member of the Bar to recognize those individuals and put a face on our diverse Bar Association.
Van Nuys, CA
Very few know their career path at the age of three; even fewer stick with it for the rest of their adult career.
Attorney Elizabeth Castaneda is both―one of those rare people who never questioned whether or not she should reach her life goal.
“I’ve wanted to be an attorney, since I was in 3rd grade,” says Castaneda. “My mother said that I told her I wanted to be a lawyer so I could help people. I was the first in my family to go to college, so I was not able to receive much guidance. All I knew was that I had to go to college to be an attorney and so I did.”
Despite substantial financial barriers, Castaneda was able to move forward with the help of mentors and counselors who guided her along the path to law school. While attending CSUN, Castaneda received the Jenniellen Ferguson Endowment scholarship for excellence in her political science studies. Following graduation, Castaneda worked for several years to save money before enrolling at Loyola Law School and securing several externships during her time there.
While at Loyola, Castaneda clerked for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, while serving an externship with the Neighborhood Legal Service and the Dependency Court―an experience that helped her choose her area of law and reinforced her view of what it meant to be a lawyer.
Her externship with the Neighborhood Legal Service led to a six-year tour on staff as an attorney. Castaneda then tried her hand with firms in Century City and Encino for two years, refining her skills and bolstering her passion for family law.
“I enjoy working as a family law attorney because it gives me the opportunity to work with people and help them try to solve their problems during a very difficult time in their lives,” she says. “I find that the experience I have had, both in the public interest arena and the private sector, has taught me a great deal on how to handle all aspects of family law.”
Even though Castaneda is a busy solo practitioner, she continues to volunteer with the Daily Settlement Officer Program, participate in the Pro Per Judgment Day and Settle O Rama programs, read true crime novels and spend time with her family.