Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles Publisher Sarah Torres sat down with Daren M. Schlecter to discuss his career and the greatest lesson he learned in law school.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Schlecter: During my time at UCLA. I was struggling on what major to pick. My roommate at the time ironically encouraged me to switch to political science and consider law as a future field. In the meantime, I always knew I enjoyed writing, which occupies a good deal of a lawyer’s time — writing letters, emails and drafting documents. What drew me to this career? My dual love for math and law. Helping serve people and seeing them get through difficult situations. There is no joy greater than that.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way? What is the best lesson they taught you?
Schlecter: I’ve had many mentors over the years. I cannot stress enough how important a mentor is to your career. I’m always placing calls to other attorneys asking them their opinion on a point of law, strategy, or the actual business side of law. Without them, I don’t think my firm would be where it is today.
AALM: What was the greatest lesson you learned in law school?
Schlecter: Perseverance. Between commuting to law school, working part time, and then being executive editor of law review, I was always being challenged by these commitments. I learned how to continue to strive and focus and successfully multitask, which is a pivotal skill as a legal entrepreneur. There is always room for growth and things as practitioners that we do not know. Learning to grow and overcome is the key. I have a quote on my door that I oft en look to: “When you have the good fortune to have success, reinvent yourself.” The quote reminds me we should always be growing, being of service, and frequently overcoming challenges. We cannot rest on our laurels ever.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Schlecter: The adversities I have faced over the last almost seven years as my law firm has been growing. Whether it was a particularly difficult or stressful case, I learned a valuable lesson in how to receive and overcome adversity. I don’t call them failures because there was always a lesson to learn and it made me a better person, lawyer and entrepreneur.
As my firm grows, I am learning how to more effectively manage each of my staff on an individual level. The same is true for dealing with clients, opposing counsel, and other people I interact with on a daily basis.
AALM: Why did you decide to open your own firm?
Schlecter: It was always in my blood. Throughout my time at UCLA where I did my undergraduate and Whittier Law School I worked for solos or small firms. I was fortunate enough to learn both the business side of law and the actual practice of law during those years. When it became time for me to make the jump in early 2011, I did and never looked back. This May, we will be celebrating seven years since the law firm opened. It has been an amazing journey.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Schlecter: Growing a law firm that is dedicated to providing holistic, zealous and comprehensive representation, and just as importantly seeing my staff grow. In fact, my managing legal assistant who has been with my law firm for three years will be taking the California Bar next February.