Leadership Spotlight: Andrew Schpak

Volume 37, Number 5

By

Keya Koul is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an attorney with the Albuquerque, New Mexico, office of Castle Stawiarski, LLC.

 

During the 2010-2011 bar year, Andrew Schpak was the ABA YLD Committee Director and a member of the Leadership Advisory Board. When his term ended during the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Andrew moved on to be the 2011–2012 Conference, Programs & Products Director. This position is a perfect fit for someone with a history of organizing successful social and networking events. When asked to discuss his goals for the 2011–2012 ABA YLD year, Andrew said, “My goals are somewhat lofty. I want to increase attendance at the conferences and ensure that people leave each conference feeling like it is the best ABA YLD Conference they’ve ever attended. I also want the conferences to feel cohesive and bring people together. That’s a pretty high bar to set in light of the great quality of many of the recent conferences, but my hope is that deliberate planning and hard work by myself and many others can yield that result.”

Background

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Andrew Schpak knew from an early age that he wanted to be an attorney. In a middle school creative writing assignment he wrote, “I want to be the best bilingual corporate attorney in the world.” Andrew attended the Lycée Français school through the eighth grade; after completing high school, he went on to attend Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Reed did not offer a pre-law major, so Andrew chose political science and focused on constitutional law. His senior thesis at Reed proposed changes to Portland’s parade permit ordinance to better balance the constitutional rights of assembly and expression with the city’s need to ensure the safety of the masses. At Reed, Andrew was a student senator and the student body co-treasurer. During his senior year, he created a new student body organization called the Reed College Dating Council, which organized parties and mixers.

During Law School

Because he already knew that he wanted to be an attorney, he took the LSAT and applied to law school during his senior year in college. Andrew went straight through from college to law school, attending Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York. At Cornell, he was the law school representative to the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and worked as a research assistant to the Dean Stewart Schwab, the Employment Law Professor and Dean of the Law School.

During law school, Andrew spent his 1L summer working at the California State Attorneys’ Office in the Environmental Law Department. The following summer he interned for the Honorable Lourdes Baird, a now-retired federal judge in Los Angeles. Upon graduation from law school, Andrew had planned on applying for the EEOC’s honors program, but because of a federal government hiring freeze at the time, he instead applied to law firms with stellar labor and employment law practices.

He chose the practice area of labor and employment law after taking both labor and employment law classes during his 2L year. Andrew found the subject matter extremely interesting. During his 3L year, he took courses at Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations graduate school. Andrew enjoys that employment law also includes the practice of constitutional law, contracts, tort law, and even criminal law. He says, “I also like that employment law is often about people, and trying to come up with creative solutions to handle the differences between co-workers and/or supervisors and subordinates.”

Practice Experience

He knew immediately during his interview at Barran Liebman in Portland, Oregon, that it was the ideal firm for him. It has 16 attorneys and exclusively practices labor and employment law. Andrew says, “The firm has some of the top practitioners in the area, great people from top to bottom, and it encourages people to follow their passions and achieve a work/life balance here in Portland.” At the end of 2011, Andrew became a partner at the firm.

As a practicing attorney, Andrew has found time to be involved in several community organizations. He is on the Board of the NWEEO/Affirmative Action Association and the Hollywood Theatre. He attributes his interest in film and the entertainment industry to his family. He says, “I’ve always felt connected to the film industry because my mom’s dad was an actor (he won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor back in the day) and my mom makes props and jewelry for movies and TV (among many other things, she made the Black Swan tiara, the coins and jewelry for The Pirates of the Caribbean series, and the original Rocky belt).”

Getting Involved

On his return to Portland to practice at Barran Liebman LLP, Andrew introduced himself to the legal community by joining the Multnomah Bar Association Young Lawyers Section’s (MBA YLS’) Membership Committee. Two years later, he was elected to the MBA YLS Board and eventually became president. As president, he organized the first Young Lawyers Summit in Oregon. He remains involved with the Multnomah Bar Association and currently serves as its delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. At the same time, he is an active member of the Oregon State Bar (OSB). Andrew was on the Task Force that developed the OSB’s New Lawyer Mentoring Program and now chairs the committee that oversees it.

In 2005, Portland hosted the ABA YLD Spring Conference, and Andrew was invited to join the Host Committee through his activity on the MBA YLS Membership Committee. He was very impressed with the young lawyers from across the country that he met, as well as the programming at the Conference. After that experience, Andrew joined the ABA YLD Labor and Employment Law Committee, and later became the District Representative for Oregon and Washington. In 2010–2011 he was ABA YLD Committee Director, a member of the Leadership Advisory Board, and the ABA YLD liaison to the Senior Lawyers Division. When asked about his involvement as a Committee Director, Andrew says, “I think the committees serve an important function by providing value to the significant portion of our membership that does not attend conferences.”

Drive and Motivation

Andrew has always had the drive and motivation to be very involved with professional and community organizations. His success in these arenas will prove to be an enormous benefit for the ABA YLD. Most notably, the division will gain from his experience as Andrew becomes the ABA YLD 2012-2013 Secretary-Treasurer.

Young attorneys always find it difficult to balance the demands of a new career with extracurricular activities. Andrew advises them, “When selecting extracurricular activities, pursue your passions and consider becoming active within bar associations. Preferably, more than one bar association. It is the best way to meet your peers and gain writing, speaking, and leadership experience from the start of your practice. I know people who have received business referrals through bar associations, I know people who have found jobs through bar associations, and I even know people who have found love and marriage through bar associations.”

“The ABA YLD has been led by a series of effective leaders who are genuinely good people. I’m excited about the projects Mike Bergmann has implemented this year as well as the ones that Chris Rogers and Mario Sullivan have in the works. I look forward to working with them to further the Division’s goals. I believe the ABA YLD needs to continue to focus on how to best deliver value to not only our members who attend our national conferences but also to our ‘mailbox’ members who receive our e-mails and mailings but never plan to attend a conference. I also think we need to continue our trend towards customizing our professional development, public service, and affiliate assistance offerings so that state and local affiliates and all ABA YLD members feel they are getting their money’s worth out of their ABA YLD membership. We also need to keep working on projects like Section Connect and Touch 10,000 in order to make it easy for young lawyers to get involved with other sections and divisions of the ABA when they age out of the ABA YLD, while demonstrating the ABA YLD’s value and importance to ‘the big ABA’ and its Board of Governors.”

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