As a Director in our firm’s Natural Resources practice group who works out of our Las Vegas Office, attorney Josh Reid’s practice focuses on the environment, energy, water and land issues, and he possesses significant experience advising clients on transactions involving public infrastructure and the purchase and sale of significant energy and water assets.
His love for the environment extends right out of his front door, and he spends his time away from work hiking the trails around Henderson, Nevada. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Josh about his life in the legal profession.
It’s been a long, HOT summer in Las Vegas, and around the world. Your practice touches on some of the most critical issues of the day – the environment, energy, water and land development. How do you get your head around the complex problems facing these sectors?
My undergraduate degree is in Conservation Biology, and I earned a master’s degree in Environmental Science from Yale University before I became an attorney. As such, I have been involved in environmental and natural resources issues for most of my adult life. One of the first concepts that you learn in environmental science is that everything is connected to everything else, and the most fundamental relationship in any ecosystem is between the environment and everything that lives there.
Another important concept that you learn is that when the environment changes, whatever lives there has three choices. They can either recognize that change is happening and adapt to the new conditions and survive, accept that change is happening and do nothing, or deny the evidence that change is happening. I have found that this adaptation concept also applies to the legal and business issues that my clients face, and that one of the keys to success in both life and business is to recognize, accept and adapt to change.
Without naming clients, talk about your current work. Any trends that you’re seeing in regard to forward movement during our ongoing pandemic?
One trend that I have seen with my clients throughout the pandemic is that they are taking more steps to protect themselves from uncertainty. The pandemic, combined with the extended drought and the regulatory uncertainty that many clients involved in energy and natural resources are currently experiencing, has led many to look at various “what-if?” scenarios that they would not have considered before the pandemic.
Another trend is that I’m seeing a considerable amount of is new mineral exploration activity in Nevada for minerals that are important for green energy and the tech industry. My grandfather was a miner, and I spent a lot of my childhood learning about Nevada’s mining history and exploring old mining claims. So, this new era of mining exploration has been an interesting addition to my law practice.
What would you tell your younger self – or a 1L in law school contemplating a career in the legal profession?
I come from a family of attorneys, so I knew what I was getting into when I decided to go to law school. The best advice that I could give a law student is to be a team player. Building relationships with your colleagues and the ability to work within a team are two of the most important skillsets that you can develop in law school. The competition that comes with law school, unfortunately, gives some students the wrong impression that success in the legal profession is a zero-sum game.
Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your career and life?
I worked for Bob Faiss for my first two years in private practice. Bob was an incredible mentor, and he taught me the importance of building relationships and becoming a trusted advisor to my clients. I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to have had Bob Faiss as my first boss in the legal profession.
Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?
My first loss in court came when I was a first year law firm associate on a summary judgment motion in Las Vegas Justice Court. The case involved a $5,000 contract claim, and I was representing the defendant. I felt very confident that the law was on our side and that the judge would be impressed with my legal analysis.
One minute into my oral argument, it became clear to me that this particular judge was not impressed with me or my argument. Had I done more investigation into the judge that was handling the case, I would have known that this particular judge wouldn’t appreciate my detailed legal analysis. This was an important lesson that being persuasive involves knowing both the applicable law as well as your audience.
What’s the best – and worst – piece of advice that you have ever been given?
The best advice that I was ever given, which came from my parents, was to never take advice from my fears. Hands down, the worst advice that I was ever given came from the law partner who convinced me to sell my Apple stock in 2009.
In this pandemic age, what are you currently reading; listening to (music or podcasts); and watching/streaming?
I’m currently reading “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, which is great. My favorite pandemic album is “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers. I’m not big on podcasts, but I listen to a lot of audiobooks while hiking/walking. I just finished “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction about being attorney?
Running into an old client or colleague that I had helped. It’s fun to see projects that you worked on get built, but it’s no comparison to seeing a person that you helped get through a hard time, or to be successful.
What’s your go-to Karaoke song?
Unfortunately, NRS 268.412 (Prevention of Excessive Noise) prohibits me from singing in any Karaoke bar within the State of Nevada.
Okay, and last, but not least, you and your family are hosting a lavish dinner party. Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you would invite.
First, my maternal grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who died before I was born. Second, Thurgood Marshall (“Devil in the Grove” is one of my favorite books). Lastly, Elizabeth I.
Many thanks to Josh for his words of wisdom – and compelling insights!
And our natural resources, energy and environmental law team is here to help businesses navigate the ever-changing regulatory climate.
For more information, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/natural-resources-energy-and-environmental