Known as the "Punk Rock Lawyer," Alex Hamalian is the person to call if you get a DUI or happen to murder someone. Alex grew up in the Bay Area, where he played in hardcore bands before attending Chico State. There he studied philosophy and political science, but always had an affinity for the criminal element. After working for small firms, he started his private practice in 1996 and, in 1998, formed a consortium with close friends who were young lawyers. His hobbies include antiquing (his desk is a converted piano from the late 1800s) and business: He co-owned the Panama Red Room and the Matador with partner (and friend since grade school) Angelo Marchi. While Alex may be vicious in the courtroom, he's a pussycat after hours—an animal lover (and vegetarian) who keeps sharks in his office and snakes named for politicians at his home.
What is the best part of the job?
Helping people keep their lives together or put their lives back together so they can be productive members of society. You interact with individuals from every walk of life, from the guy who sleeps under the bridge and steals to provide himself with necessities, to individuals from the upper echelons of society who never envisioned themselves being defendants.
Losing when you don't think you should lose. Watching the pain of somebody when you know they're going to have to endure it for a long time, justified or not, and wondering if there was something you could have done differently to change the outcome. And if you're a workaholic like I am, it really impedes on your social life.
Two years ago you bought the former MGM building and renamed it the Pennoyer Building. Who was Pennoyer?
Pennoyer was governor for eight years in the 1800s. He was a popular governor, but a rogue governor, and was mean-spirited, anti-Semitic, and anti-Chinese. After he retired as governor he became the mayor of Portland. He built the Pennoyer Building in 1874 as his personal residence and died in what is now my office.
You're known as a snazzy dresser. How many suits do you own?
My original goal was to have 30 suits, one for each day of the month. Then I realized there were certain suits you can't wear in the winter, so I acquired more. Every man should own at least one seersucker suit.
And you're fond of wearing bow ties.
There's a certain art to dressing, and tying a bow tie is the top tier of that art. Anybody whose bow tie is tied perfectly isn't really tying it. An imperfect bow tie is the sign it's not a clip-on. VIVA LAS VEGAS