My clients need attorneys that are well-rounded and can help them spot issues across a variety of practice areas.
A Conversation On Lessons Learned & Her Life In The Legal Profession With Attorney Katie Hoffman
Katie Hoffman works in our firm’s government relations and regulatory practice group out of Reno office. Her practice focuses on administrative matters before state and local agencies.
We recently had the pleasure of talking with Katie about her work and life in the law.
You’re a rising star in our Government Relations & Regulatory practice group. As the first quarter of 2022 comes to a close, are you seeing any business trends in Reno – and nationally?
It’s a really busy and exciting time for many of our clients. Nevada is a great place to build a business or expand a company. But, as our popularity increases, so do our growing pains. The commercial and residential property markets are so tight right now, so that’s definitely been challenging for some of our clients. Another issue we counsel our clients to expect is longer wait times to obtain licenses or governmental approvals. More than ever, it’s important for companies to have a good handle on their licensing and compliance obligations, so that they can move efficiently and effectively though regulatory processes and not get bogged down in delay.
Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on? (Your practice is unique in that you cover matters ranging from cannabis businesses to being very knowledgeable about sweepstakes!)
Nevada is in the middle of some very interesting changes to our cannabis industry. Our state cannabis regulator is in the process of developing regulations for cannabis consumption lounges, which would be publicly-accessible places where adults 21+ could purchase and use cannabis. For many years, Nevada prohibited the use of cannabis in any space open to the public, and most resorts and hotels also prohibit cannabis possession or use. Obviously, our state and Las Vegas, in particular, is a major destination for visitors from around the world. As a result, most visitors who legally purchased cannabis had no place where they could use it. Consumption lounges will solve that issue. Creating regulations for these businesses is a tricky task, however, as the state must balance public safety and nuisance considerations with the need to create feasible and workable requirements for these businesses.
In honor of March being National Women’s History Month, what would you tell your younger self – or a 1L at the University of Colorado Law School now contemplating a career in the legal profession?
Take a wide variety of classes, not just those in the subject matter you think you want to focus on! My clients need attorneys that are well-rounded and can help them spot issues across a variety of practice areas. I would also tell law students to seek out mentors through their jobs or even community or professional organizations. There is so much to the practice of law and being a good attorney that goes beyond what you learn in a classroom, and a good mentor can really help you bridge that gap.
Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?
Gosh, that’s a tough one! I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by so many exemplary people in my life who’ve all helped shape me in one way or another. I had wonderful English and Government teachers in school who instilled a passion for learning and a great appreciation for our constitution and the democratic process. In high school, I worked lots of summer jobs to save money for college and I was so impressed by my co-workers who were always willing to take an extra shift, to stay late when it was necessary, and to volunteer for the hard tasks that everyone else avoided.
That work ethic is still something I try to emulate. As a young lawyer, I had the amazing opportunity to clerk for Judge Procter Hug on the 9th Circuit. Judge Hug was not only brilliant but also empathetic and kind. He was an incredible example of how to have tough and sometimes polarizing debates in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Through my clerkship with him, I really came to understand that effective advocacy requires patience, kindness and humility, not just having the “right” or “best” arguments.
Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?
Like many attorneys, I put pressure on myself to do my best and succeed at whatever goals I set. I remember feeling so devastated when I was younger when I couldn’t attend my top choices for college, either because I didn’t get accepted or didn’t get enough scholarships. At the time, those experiences definitely felt like a big failure.
What I learned though is that it’s great to have big goals, but to give yourself grace in how you achieve those ambitions. For example, there’s more than one way to get a great education or have a certain career. It’s important to be flexible and nimble in responding to roadblocks. Sometimes detours on your trail can lead to great views while still taking you to the summit.
What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?
I think the best career advice I’ve received is to be curious and stay open-minded. Lots of young professionals probably start out thinking they know exactly what they want to do with their careers, but there are lots of exciting twists and turns in life that you might miss if you’re not willing to be flexible and build new skills. When I was in law school, “cannabis law” was the purview of prosecutors and public defenders and not a practice area I ever thought I’d be doing. But, I was curious about this emerging industry and how the state would build a brand new regulatory system from the ground up in such a short period of time. Cannabis is a fascinating and exciting area, though not one I could have planned for!
During our ongoing pandemic – the NEXT normal, what are you listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching
I love stories about adventure and the outdoors. Outside Magazine has a great podcast that interviews all sorts of climbers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts about their experiences and how their lives have been shaped by adventures in the great outdoors. One of my favorite books from the past year was the Third Pole, by Mark Synnott. The book dives into George Mallory’s expeditions to Mt. Everest in the 1920s and talks about how these efforts fit into the Western world’s obsession at the time with conquering unknown realms like the North and South Poles. The narrative flips between Mallory’s expeditions and the author’s own Everest climb in 2019, which was focused on looking for definitive evidence about whether Mallory made it to the summit before he perished on the mountain. It’s part climbing adventure and part mystery and a great read.
You’re a HUGE fan of the great outdoors, having just skied Tahoe, and you once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! What’s next – the ultimate destination on your bucket list?
Oh jeez, it’s hard to pick just one! My husband and I have always talked about breaking up the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail into smaller segments and trying to hike a portion each year, I think that would be quite an adventure. I’d also love to tackle a trek in the Himalayas and see Everest Base Camp or hike the Annapurna Circuit. The world is a big place!
Many thanks to Katie for her inspiring insights! And if your organization is in need of assistance, our regulatory attorneys help clients determine what outcomes are in their best interest – and then build and implement a plan to achieve those outcomes. For more information, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/government-relations-and-regulatory-law/