I am constantly learning from clients

A Conversation On Leadership & Life In The Law With Attorney Bart Botta

Attorney Bart Botta is a director in our Orange County office who works in our Agribusiness Law Practice Group. He is involved in all aspects of proceedings arising under the PACA and the California Food and Agricultural Code.

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Bart about lessons learned and his life in the legal profession.

In this week’s leadership profile we head to the OC to talk with attorney Bart Botta in our Orange County office! Okay, crystal ball time – what are your goals and predictions for your life in the legal profession for 2023?

Moving over to Fennemore in October of 2022 has understandably required a lot of time to be devoted to learning the new systems and the ways things are done.

As I continue to learn and develop these necessary skills, my goal is to spend less time on these transitional matters as I apply the new systems, with the outcome being a more effective approach to the practice of law.   

What would you tell your younger self, or a 1L at the Washburn University School of Law currently contemplating a career in the legal profession?

I would tell my younger self that the practice of law can be stressful, so adopting ways to be more efficient is very important. Also, because law is a crowded profession, focusing on learning and doing things that will set you apart from other new attorneys is a great idea. Exposing yourself to novel areas of the law will definitely benefit your growth in the practice of law.

I would also tell my younger self to invest as much money as I can scrape together in 1997 in a new company called Amazon!

Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on in your Agribusiness practice?

It is amazing how many new things I learn from clients. I am constantly learning from clients, as they all have unique businesses and approaches to these specific businesses. 

For example, I have a case right now that involves the sale of fresh dates, and the process of growing dates is so unique. From hand pollination, to growing the date palms in the desert where temperatures can reach 120 degrees, to the hand picking of the dates, the entire process has given me a real appreciation of the work that goes into each date.

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

While my wife and my mother have both had a big impact on my life and have definitely made me a better person, I would say that my father had the greatest impact on my life and career.

My father came to this country with his mother from Italy in 1937 when he was 15 years old. He spoke no English, yet he was so courageous in everything he did. He initially learned English by going to the movies (resulting in his love of cinema). He impressed upon me that you can learn something from every person regardless of who he or she is, and that you should treat all people as equals and show them respect. He also was a firm believer in furthering your education as much as possible as you can continue to learn throughout your life.

While my father passed away several years ago, I still remember all of his life-lessons.    

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

My biggest failure in my career was probably my first oral hearing before the PACA Branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  I finished the three day hearing feeling really good, and I was confident the hearing officer would issue a decision in my favor.  Unfortunately, after many months of waiting, the decision and order was issued, and it was definitely not favorable. From that I learned that despite how well you believe a trial/hearing goes, you really never know until you receive the decision.  Also, it is best to have a short memory when it comes to any losses, so moving on to other cases quickly is the best approach in my opinion.  

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

The best career advice I ever received was also good life advice, and that is to never accept the first answer if it is not favorable. Whether it is in a settlement negotiation, or in a court decision that you can appeal, accepting a negative outcome should not be something you do without a fight.

The worst piece of career advice I received was to never apologize to opposing counsel  because it shows weakness. In my opinion, we are all practicing law in the same profession, so being courteous and apologizing if warranted does not show weakness. Plus, because we run into the same attorneys over and over again in the agricultural law field, you want to be courteous to opposing counsel because you want to be treated that same way.    

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming?

My wife and I were late to watch several really good television series, but three shows we recently binge-watched were The Sopranos, Madmen, and Breaking Bad, which were all incredible. 

As to music, I recently got back into some older U2 music, which is still just as great as ever. 

As to reading, unfortunately, I am not reading anything interesting right now, other than news articles, current events, etc.  So I need to find something good to read!

With a name like Bart Botta, you actually could be an actor – or superhero! Who would you trade places with – or if you were an action hero, what would your super power be?

On the one hand, I would like to be an action hero with the ability to turn back time (so that I can correct any things that went wrong). But on the other hand, that kind of super power could really back-fire, so I will instead stick to a super power that is always a good one – the ability to fly!  Who wouldn’t like that? 

Many thanks to Bart for your compelling insights!

And for more information about how our attorneys in Orange County can help your business thrive, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/contact-us/orange-county/ .