The attention to detail developed in the nuclear Navy helped prepare me for the legal profession.

A Conversation On Lessons Learned From Service In The Navy and Life In The Law With Attorney Brandin Inouye

We recently had the pleasure of talking with attorney Brandin Inouye, an associate in our Fresno office who works in our firm’s Business & Finance and Intellectual Property groups.

He focuses his practice on transactional work, including contract and mergers and acquisitions matters, as well as IP matters in the copyright and patent portfolio management space.

In honor of Veterans Day, talk about your six years in the Navy, running nuclear power plants aboard the USS Enterprise. What do you remember the most? And how did this experience prepare you for your career in the legal profession?

Honestly, serving aboard the USS Enterprise was one of the toughest periods of my life. I spent most of my time in the engine room which for those unfamiliar is an oven-like dungeon at the bottom of the ship. The hours were extremely long and the work was physically and mentally demanding. My memories are a strange dichotomy between the chaos of emergencies, like equipment failures and reactor scrams, and quiet moments in the wee hours of the night, like sipping coffee listening to the hum of the main engine.

The attention to detail developed in the nuclear Navy helped prepare me for the legal profession. I learned early in my Navy career that simple mistakes can cost lives. I’ve seen a number of near disasters narrowly avoided and hundreds of hours of labor saved thanks to someone’s attention to detail.

You’re new to Fennemore. Talk about your practice in the Fresno office. And without naming clients, are there any intriguing trends to watch in Business & Finance and Intellectual Property for 2022?

Although I’ve been involved in a number Business & Finance transactions in the Fresno office since I started in September, I can’t speak to any trends just yet.

What do you wish you knew in law school about the legal profession? And what advice would you give a 1L at Georgetown currently contemplating a career in the law?

I wish I knew more about the alternatives to the Big Law firms and job opportunities available in smaller markets. For 1L’s at Georgetown, if they haven’t already, I would recommend taking advantage of being in D.C. and getting some policy experience. It can be a gratifying experience.

Who’s your hero – or the person who has impacted your life and career the most?

My grandfather has always been my hero. He was locked in an internment camp along with other members of my family during World War II and enlisted in the Army from the camp. He, along with other members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, fought the fascists in Italy and France, earned a bronze star for his actions gliding into France behind enemy lines, and helped save the lost battalion. As a civilian, he spent most of his working life as a union automaker.

Growing up he taught me to go for broke, but also not to be stupid. After I was deployed, in typical Navy fashion, I got a tattoo dedicated to his memory.

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

I dropped out of school after my first year of undergrad. I discovered that Computer Science was awful, and instead wanted to study Philosophy. My parents were very upset and threatened to kick me out of the house. I ended up joining the Navy.

I learned that as long as no one died (or was seriously maimed) as a result of what you did, it’s okay. You can recover and learn from it. I picked up the pieces and moved forward by focusing my energy on the next important task. If I didn’t have one, then I’d invent one, because having purpose is essential.

What’s the best – and worst – piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

The worst piece of advice I’ve ever been given was from the Navy. The officer in charge of Machinery Division gave us a speech that ended with: “Life won’t get better, but it can always get worse.” That was just a shitty thing to say to people when morale was already close to rock bottom.

The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was probably from my wife. She once told me that the dread from confronting difficult tasks is always worse than the feeling of doing the task. I’ve almost always found that to be true.

During our ongoing pandemic – the NEXT normal – what are you reading; listening to (podcast or music); and watching or streaming?

I’ve been reading a bunch of garbage cyberpunk novels on my Kindle. Not reading as much Philosophy as I would like. I’ve been watching a lot of Real Housewives. It’s great TV. I can’t wait for Atlanta to come back (but it’s going to be hard to beat last season), New York is always pretty good, and Melbourne finally came back this season.

As a UCLA guy, I know you’re a film buff. What’s your favorite film of all time? What about your favorite movie about lawyers? And what’s your favorite movie line?

My favorite film of all-time is probably Chinatown. It’s easily the best neo-noir film out there and the writing was amazing. At the moment, my favorite film about lawyers is probably Dark Waters. The film depicts Rob Bilott’s fight with Dupont over their dumping of PFOA in West Virginia. One of my favorite movie lines is: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Many thanks to Brandin and all of the veterans at our firm for their service to our country – and for their stellar service on behalf of our clients!

And for more information on our Business & Finance and Intellectual Property practice groups, please visit:

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