Published November 18, 2014
Volume 22, Number 11

Attorney’s Passions Extend Far Beyond the Law

By Zoe Francis

Daniela Lungu would be in seventh heaven if she could pack her beloved dog to join her on her world travels as easily as she packs her coveted e-book.
Daniela LunguThe asset protection attorney works hard to make her law practice successful, but also relishes her “me” time.
“These are my loves, in no particular order -- I travel internationally, I’m an avid reader and I have a dog that’s very spoiled,” Lungu said. “I have a white boxer that’s my fur baby, Kai.”
The 3-year-old pooch is Lungu’s near-constant companion when she is not at the office. When Lungu travels, her parents pitch in to watch the coveted canine so their only daughter can travel without worry.
It was her parents, school teachers Miron and Aurica, who sparked the wanderlust in their oldest child.
“My parents always took us everywhere when we were growing up, to the extent we could afford it,” Lungu recalled. “I remember traveling by air when it was a really big deal. They used to give you luggage for free because you booked a flight with them. They would give you a really nice vinyl hand-held piece of luggage with the Pan Am logo on the outside of it. Flying was still new and relatively expensive.”
The Lungu family is from Romania, where Lungu and her younger brother, Gabriel, were born. They immigrated to America in the late 1970s, living in Pasadena and Stockton before ultimately settling in Dublin in 1986.
The family moved to the Bay Area the summer before Lungu’s senior year, so she graduated from Dublin High School and promptly enrolled at Cal State, Hayward (now Cal State, East Bay) and landed a job at the Dublin San Ramon Services District.
“I was in school forever,” she said with a laugh. “I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, and I kept changing my major. Every time I changed my major, they’d add another 20 classes, so I was at Cal State, Hayward for a total of nine years.”
Lungu eventually graduated with a degree in organizational communications and public relations with a minor in marketing. She continued to work at the services district until a favorite boss retired, which prompted Lungu to reconsider her future options.
“When it was almost my 30th birthday, I decided it was finally time to go to law school,” she said. “Apparently, law school is something I talked to my family about when I was 7. It was something that was already in the background, but I didn’t know if it was ever the right time to transition to that serious of a career.”
“I just wanted to do something that was going to help people ultimately,” she continued. “It’s one thing to work at a job and get a paycheck, but I wanted an opportunity to help individuals and families do something that’s more personal.”
Lungu enrolled at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, using the then-new BART extension to commute from her home in Dublin to classes in the city. She opted to specialize in intellectual property law – patents, trademarks, copyrights.
She ultimately discovered the impersonal nature of the work was not a good fit for her, so she transitioned into asset protection through such avenues as estate planning, wills, trusts and advanced healthcare directives.
“I picked a career that completely fits my personality and the way my brain works,” she said. “I like being able to help people and do something that feels good. It feels different when you’re talking about protecting families and protecting kids. It feels better.”
Lungu opened her own practice in Dublin in December 2002, shortly after she graduated and passed the bar exam. Her business was firmly rooted in her hometown of Dublin until she relocated to Hacienda four years ago.
The hard-working attorney travels as often as her schedule will allow.
“I like being able to meet people from various cultures and interact them,” she said. “There’s nothing like it to be someplace that is nothing like the U.S. It makes you feel even more fortunate when you get home.”
She tends to travel with family and friends, including her parents, who still call Dublin home.
“I like traveling with my parents,” she said. “They’re great to spend time with. I have a lot of friends I travel with or family members.”
At last count, Lungu has visited an impressive 22 countries and much of the United States.
“Thailand was awesome,” she said enthusiastically. “I’ve done some parts of Europe. I’ve been to Italy, Greece, Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Caribbean. I’ve been to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bali.”
Thailand holds a special place in Lungu’s heart.
“I did a semester of law school in Thailand,” she explained. “They have study abroad programs for various areas of specialty. I chose international law, finance and mediation. That’s where you travel around the globe and help people from two countries settle disputes. I have a special certificate for international law. It’s different when you’re traveling for work as opposed to traveling for fun.
“My friends who travel for work do not enjoy the airport as much as I do because I know at the end of it, I’m going to go somewhere fabulous, meet fabulous people and then come home.”
When Lungu is not working or traveling, she kicks back with a good book and hangs out with Kai.
“Reading and TV watching are two activities where my brain can completely disengage,” she said. At work, “I’m constantly thinking about something or processing something. (Reading) is completely passive. I can just read and enjoy and absorb the characters.”
Not surprisingly, she enjoys legal thrillers, murder mysteries and police drama.
“As long as I’m not figuring it out, that’s completely fine,” she said of the intense plots.
The lifelong bibliophile, who still relishes the feel and smell of newsprint, long ago transitioned from print books to e-books simply for the ease of travel.
“It’s so much easier to have five or six or nine books downloaded onto an e-book that weighs maybe a pound,” she said. When she studied in Thailand, “I knew I was going to be there for 10 weeks. I took as many books as I knew I would read in 10 weeks, and then I left them there. But I haven’t read a physical book in who knows how long.”
Lungu, who lives near her brother and his family in Livermore, gives back to the community by offering free legal seminars at area companies. She is passionate about spreading the word about how crucial it is to plan for the future.
“What I offer to people is the ability to be in charge of their life so they get to say what happens to their possessions and they get to self-distribute the assets that they worked so hard to get,” she said. “You want to be able to protect your assets and have it go to your kids without losing any of it through court or legal fees.”
It is that passion for her career, travel and her treasured canine companion that makes Lungu truly content with her lot in life.
“I have found my niche,” she said. “I want to do exactly what I’m doing now. I want to continue spending time with my family. I want to continue traveling. When I’m ready to retire, I’m going to travel more and probably have more than one dog. Or a cat.”
Learn more about The Law Offices of Daniela Lungu at lungulaw.com.

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