I think I would tell myself that I belong

A Conversation On Lessons Learned & Life In The Law With Attorney Brandon Blakely

Brandon Blakely is an associate who works out of our Phoenix office in the firm’s Trusts & Estates practice group. His work focuses on drafting complex estate plans and fiduciary documents, preparing trust and probate petitions and developing strategies for fiduciary litigation, as well as completing gift and estate tax filings and trusts accountings.

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Brandon about his life in the legal profession.

Post Super Bowl, and post Phoenix Open, we thought, “Why ever leave the Valley of the Sun?” so in this week’s leadership profile we talked with attorney Brandon Blakely! You’re an avid hoops fan, so please give us your thoughts on the REAL sports news of the town: What do you think about Kevin Durant joining the Suns – and all of the current seismic changes in the NBA?!

My immediate response was “Oh Crap” (read curse word)!!!  However, as I thought about it more, I realized that they moved a good amount of their depth to get him, and Bridges and Johnson provide some energy and defense that they need to cover the wings they will have to face in the playoffs. That being said, adding KD is never a bad thing. I worry that Booker will get lost, as he has a tendency to defer when other people are in flow. The KD and Ayton two-man game will be a nightmare to defend.

Ultimately, even with KD, I do not think they have enough to challenge the other elite teams in the West nor the teams like the Bucks and Celtics in the East.

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

I think I would tell myself that I belong. As a non-traditional student and one of the few people in my entire 1L class that looked like me, I went in with the concern of whether I was prepared for the rigor of law school when surrounded with ivy league grads and the amazing students at my law school. I was more than prepared and came to law school with a wealth of experience that was useful and set me up for success. I spent way too much time worry about proving my worth.

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

I am currently working on a matter that is intriguing in a nerdy way.  Figuring out how to arrange a loan from an irrevocable trust to contingent beneficiaries without causing gift tax ramifications for the primary beneficiary.

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

My mom. She was sick for a majority of my life until she passed a few months before I started law school. She was dealt a pretty bad hand and fought so hard every day to be there and present for us. 

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

I think my biggest failure was in my job-search after I attained my master’s at KU. I had a really successful grad experience and rocked out in my role as a hall director. I was too confident going into my job search and failed to appreciate the opportunities I had. 

My job searched ended up flaming out because I ruled out potential positions for frivolous (read cocky) reasons. I learned that I need to appreciate every opportunity I get, and I can’t let my past success define how I approach the future. I also learned how to handle things that were outside of my control.

To move forward, I took a step-back, applied for jobs like a mad man and tapped into my network. I ended up at UW-Whitewater, which is where I was when I met my wife.  So, the biggest thing I learned is that everything happens for a reason even if that reason is not known to you in the midst of the chaos.  

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

The best career advice I received was to find a company that finds value in and invests in you as a whole person and focuses on all that you bring to a role, not just on the areas that you aren’t perfect.

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

Reading the Showtime Laker’s book, and I listen to the Solve4Why Poker Podcast most days.

What’s #1 on your bucket list – or the place you’d most like to explore?

Over-water bungalow in Bora Bora, Tahiti or something of that nature, but my wife is not about that flight, so it will take some convincing.

Many thanks to Brandon for his compelling insights!

And to learn more about our Trusts & Estates practice group – representing individuals, families, business owners, nonprofit organizations (including charitable foundations), and trust companies in a wide range of sophisticated trust, estate, litigation, business and tax matters, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/trusts-estates/ .

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