IT IS ONLY IN THE PRESENCE OF HUMILITY THAT LEARNING AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH BECOMES POSSIBLE.
As our Las Vegas office managing partner, attorney Rich Dreitzer possesses a commanding presence, both in our firm, and in the Nevada legal community where he serves on the State Bar of Nevada Board of Directors. He also serves as the vice chair of Nevada Public Radio, KNPR.
We recently had the pleasure of talking with this gentleman Esquire about lessons learned and his life in the legal profession.
As the pandemic continues to impact our lives – and the legal profession – labor and employment law issues touch nearly every person, and every business. What’s it like to be in the eye of the storm on a daily basis?
It’s definitely an exciting time to be an employment lawyer right now. COVID has caused employers to rethink assumptions about nearly every aspect of the modern workplace, up to and including the definition of a “workplace” itself. Providing legal advice in this environment is not for the faint of heart. There are really very few time-worn maxims of legal theory to fall back on since things are changing in real time. So, I tend to use my common sense, my employment law knowledge, my instincts about people and how they interact and just give my best advice. It is exhilarating and mystifying all at the same time!
What would you tell your younger self – or a 1L in law school contemplating a career in the legal profession? What are your biggest lessons learned?
The three things I would explain to my younger self or to a person contemplating a legal career are as follows:
Learn to say no: Be industrious in your work and eager to learn and grow in the profession but it’s ok to say no. You need not take every case or solve every problem for every client to be a diligent and successful attorney. Setting boundaries keeps you from giving too much of yourself and makes you a more effective advocate for those you do represent.
Control your calendar; don’t let it control you: With certain exceptions, most dates and appointments can be moved. Make sure to pace yourself in your calendaring and don’t set yourself up to be overwhelmed in a given day, week or month. Again, all of us have a finite quantity of patience, drive and brain power. Don’t squander yours by overcommitting yourself and not carving out time for you.
Embrace humor and humility: Everyone deals with negative emotions as an attorney – it comes with the territory. But, if you can laugh at situations, and most importantly, at yourself, things won’t bother you nearly as much and you might come to enjoy what you do. Also, strive to be humble – with judges, other counsel, staff, even the barista at the local Starbucks. It is only in the presence of humility that learning and professional growth becomes possible. We, as lawyers, don’t know everything and we need to embrace that. That’s how we improve.
What’s the best – and worst – piece of advice that you have ever been given?
Best advice I’ve ever been given: “The wonderful thing about power, is that you don’t have to use it.” People look up to lawyers and expect us to have all the answers, even on matters that have nothing to do with law, per se. There is a power to that relationship and we, as lawyers, need to use it wisely. If we are humble, patient, respectful and understanding of others, we can wield our power for good and positive purposes.
Worst advice I’ve ever been given: “If you quit [X] job, it will be the worst mistake of your life…” All the professional moves I’ve made have been for reasons that I can identify and which made sense to me at the time – and I’ve learned something important with each step I’ve taken. Not pursuing something new that I have thought about and truly believed in, because of the fear of making “the worst mistake of my life” would, itself, have been a colossal mistake. With certain important exceptions, it’s better to regret the things you do, than the things you don’t do.
In this pandemic age, what are you currently reading; listening to (music or podcasts); and watching/streaming?
I’m currently reading “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
I’m currently obsessed with “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV. So much wisdom there, I don’t know where to begin (“Be curious, not judgmental” — Walt Whitman)
What gives you the greatest satisfaction about being an attorney?
For this, I quote Tom Hanks’ character in “Philadelphia”:
“Q: What do you love about the law, Andrew?
A.: I.. Many things. What do I love the most about the law?
A. It’s that every now and again, not often, but occasionally, you get to be a part of justice being done. That really is quite a thrill when that happens…”
Many thanks to Rich for his inspiring words of wisdom – and to all of our bold litigators who serve our clients during these challenging times!
And if your organization is in need of experienced, forward-thinking advocates who go beyond the expected for clients in dispute prevention and resolution, please visit:
On A Side Note:
Nevada Public Radio has just kicked off its Fall Fundraising Campaign and Rich is asking you to please consider making a donation. Throughout the unending roller-coaster ride of these many months, Nevada Public Radio has been here for you to straighten out the twists and turns of the news. They have reported extensively on the COVID-19 pandemic, the rollout of vaccines, the huge economic challenges we face, the contentious election process, the great disruptions to education, the renewed focus on justice and equity, and much more. And there is so much ahead….
Every pledge counts towards KNPR’s goal and any amount makes a difference. If you are so inclined, please donate on Rich’s personal page here: Knpr.org/RichardDreitzer
Thank you for helping Rich support independent media in Southern Nevada.