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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: April 2023 | Transition

Member Spotlight: Rod Kubat

Rod Kubat

Member Spotlight: Rod Kubat Fowler

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Tell us a little bit about your career.

I have been in private practice my entire career.  I began as an associate in a mid-sized Iowa firm, where I focused on corporate and business law.  In a move to enable my wife to pursue further post-graduate education, I joined a small Kansas firm and engaged in a general law practice.  I relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, where I have remained since and have found a highly rewarding career focused principally on business/corporate and banking/finance law.  When the agricultural insolvency crisis struck Iowa in the 1980’s, I became deeply involved in creditors’ rights and bankruptcy matters on behalf of my lending clients and built a practice group of attorneys devoted to this area.  As the insolvency crisis waned, my business and banking practice began to grow and in 1999, I joined my current firm, Nyemaster Goode, P.C., as a shareholder, practicing principally business, banking, and finance law.  We are the largest law firm in Iowa with a broadly diverse practice and offices in three cities across the state.

Is that what you had planned when you started law school?

My undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa was in business, with a labor relations major.  I thought I would become a labor lawyer, but that never materialized.  My practice focus has been driven more by the opportunities presented to me and the drive to be successful with them, than by career design.  My business background contributed significantly to my success in the practices I have developed over the course of my career.

However, interest in a career that provided continual growth set me on the road to law school at the University of Kansas.  I have always viewed learning as a lifelong process, so I did not want my education to end when I left school.  Lawyers I had met seemed inspired and satisfied with their jobs, and most important to me, they were always learning new things and meeting new people.  Law practice has certainly contributed to this lifelong learning process.

What has been the highlight of your career?

First and foremost, it has been the quality people I have been privileged to serve as clients and with whom I have been honored to practice law.  They have enriched my personal and professional life.

As far as professional highlights, there have been many. Some of them are:

  • Nyemaster Corporate Department Chair (3 years) – Led departmental strategic planning and attorney recruiting (including additions of lateral attorneys)
  • Nyemaster Executive Committee (4 years) – Led Firm’s establishment of Eastern Iowa office and acquisition of Intellectual Property Practice Group
  • ABA, Business Law Section, Commercial Finance Committee, member since 1988
  • Iowa State Bar Association, Business Law Section Council – Served a number of terms through the years; currently serve as Chair, Continuing Legal Education Subcommittee
  • Iowa State Bar Association, Commercial and Bankruptcy Law Section Council – Served a number of terms through the years
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent rating
  • Best Lawyers in America®, 2005-present;  Lawyer of the Year, Banking & Finance, Des Moines, Iowa, 2016 and 2021
  • Chambers USA 2009-2022, Corporate and Banking
  • President, Iowa Chapter, Federal Bar Association, National Chapter Activity Award for Bankruptcy Seminar (1991) – Served as Bankruptcy Seminar Co-Chair for approximately 4 years culminating with the award. 

If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, would you have done anything differently?

Yes.  I would have combined my J.D. with an MBA to assist me in business practice and as a law firm leader.

What advice would you give to someone considering law school today?

Take time between your undergraduate education and attending law school to investigate what a legal career entails and the opportunities that exist for someone with a law degree, as well as whether or not those fit with your life goals.  If you are looking for a career that offers life-long learning, the practice of law will provide that opportunity, but it can be consuming and difficult to balance with a private life.  Balance, living with temporary imbalance, and re-balancing are skills every lawyer needs to master for mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and preservation of meaningful relationships that will be essential to life during and after your legal career.  Be sure to have resources available to support and guide you along the way and do not be afraid to use them.  They may become your lifelines.

What were the biggest changes you saw in the legal profession over the course of your career?

Technological advances and the pace of practice. While technology has made practice easier in many ways, it has also had deleterious effects, such as 24/7 connectivity and the immediacy of response expectation.

When did you first become a member of the ABA and why did you decide to join?

I joined the ABA in 1976 after entering private practice and have been a member since then.  My first firm automatically provided memberships for all new associates.  I have maintained my ABA membership because of the relationships I have been able to form, the periodic committee work I have done, and the educational opportunities the ABA provides.

Are there any member benefits that SLD or the ABA provided to you that helped you decide to become a member of the ABA and/or SLD?

Both the SLD and ABA have provided educational opportunities in areas of interest or supportive of my practice.  Early on, the ABA committees, especially the Commercial Finance Committee, gave me an opportunity to meet other ABA members and participate in developments of new laws and improvements of existing ones.

If you had not become a lawyer, what do you think you would have done?

Played and/or taught tennis professionally while pursuing a career in Broadway musical productions.  If that did not work out, I would likely have gone back to school for an MBA and pursued a career in a tennis-related business or perhaps sports management.