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“Know thyself” and the rest will follow

A Conversation on Lessons Learned and Life in the Law with Joseph Doerr

In this week’s leadership profile, we had the pleasure of talking with Joseph Doerr, the leader of the new team (Sullivan McGregor & Doerr LLP) who recently joined our Fresno office!

Welcome to Fennemore! How are things going during the transition – and what’s your vision for the firm as we continue to grow in the Central Valley?

 So far things have been great.  It helps that I worked here (when it was Dowling Aaron) over 13 years ago.  There are many familiar faces, and everyone has provided us with tremendous support.

My vision is to have the Fennemore brand become the premier tax, business transactions and estate law firm in the Central Valley.  To do this, it is imperative to have the entire Fennemore team work together to ensure the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys are staffed on particular matters so that work gets done correctly and in a timely manner.

Without naming clients, are there any intriguing matters that you’re currently working on?

Yes.  I have a restructuring transaction involving two African countries and Barbados. There are lots of interesting tax implications as well as challenging local law issues to navigate.

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

Take as much time off after law school (and taking the bar) as you can and try to clear your head. Almost all of the advice I received in law school was wrong.   Find a legal path that suits your skill set, not the skill set you want to have.  It’s hard to succeed in law (or life) if you have to play a role you are not suited to play. “Know thyself” and the rest will follow.

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

That’s a tough question.  I would not use the word hero, but someone that really influenced my life as a young man was Socrates/Plato.  I know that sounds trite, but reading the Republic and Plato’s other works during the summer after my senior year in high school radically changed the trajectory of my life – a trajectory I am still on.  It was through those works that I acquired the desire to learn for the sake of learning.  

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

Not learning how to play music as a youth. I learned that opportunities are fleeting and there are consequences for inaction.  Going forward, I am trying to catch up.

What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming? And what’s your go-to take-out food order?

Music is Billy Strings and podcast is the Remnant (Jonah Goldberg).  I just saw Billy play in Sacrament and at Stanford this month.

Reading is the Storm Before the Storm (about the end of the Roman Republic–I majored in ancient Latin).

I am watching the Simpsons with my kids (but nothing past Season 14).

Go to take-out would be Thai.

You and your family and friends are hosting a lavish dinner party, Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you would invite.



Albert Jay Nock

Welcome to Fennemore, Joe – and thank you so much for your fascinating insights!

And for more information about partnering with Fennemore’s Tax Law team, please visit:

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