TS: What inspired you to become a lawyer? And what did you do prior to becoming a lawyer?
Caldwell: When I was young, my parents managed a growing family business. I appreciated the lawyers who assisted our business and always wanted to be a lawyer so that I could assist businesses with their legal needs. Before becoming a lawyer, I interned for a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C.
TS: How did you become involved with the ABA?
Caldwell: I served as my law school’s ABA representative and was eventually appointed as the ABA Law Student Division liaison to the TIPS Long Range Planning Committee. TIPS leaders encouraged me to stay involved in the Section and, upon my graduation from law school, asked me to chair the TIPS Task Force on Outreach to Law Students. It was an easy decision to remain active in TIPS because I loved the Section’s commitment to mentoring and giving leadership opportunities to law students and young lawyers. To this day, most of my best friends are TIPS colleagues whom I have met through my work with the ABA and its sections.
TS: What is the benefit of a new lawyer becoming active with the ABA?
Caldwell: Being involved with TIPS was a catapult for my career as a young lawyer, immediately providing me with an incredible network of colleagues around the world. In fact, it was a colleague on the TIPS Long Range Planning Committee who convinced me to move to Las Vegas to work with her law firm. Clients and prospective clients appreciated that even though I was a relatively young lawyer, I was attending and participating in major CLE conferences of relevance to my practice.
TS: What is your advice for a new lawyer seeking to acquire, retain, and nurture client relationships?
Find an organization where you are unique. I’m not a fan of going to a city or county bar association where there may be 50 different Las Vegas business litigation attorneys in the same room. TIPS gives me an opportunity to meet people from around the United States who may not know other Las Vegas attorneys, and to have a chance to be their “go to” lawyer in Nevada.
TS: What gives you the most satisfaction?
I work with the Children’s Attorneys Program in Las Vegas, volunteering to represent kids in court proceedings where their parents have been accused of abuse or neglect. Giving a voice to these kids, advocating for where they wish to be placed, and working to get them services to help get their lives back on track is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, personally or professionally. It is always important to realize what a difference you can make in someone’s life because of your law license and legal training.
Robert Caldwell’s Advice for New Lawyers:
- There is no such thing as a “draft” document when you are a young lawyer. Make sure that all your work product, even what you produce within time limitations, is your best work product. Never send someone else a document you have not thoroughly reviewed and spell-checked.
- Be friendly and treat everyone with respect. This is especially true for the non-lawyers in your life, such as legal assistants, receptionists, and court staff. They will help you if they like you, but can make your life difficult if they think you are rude, arrogant, or condescending.
- Find balance in your life, personally and professionally. Force yourself to do something you enjoy, or something new, every week. Take on a pro bono client to experience a different practice area and make a difference in someone’s life.
- Do not sit at your desk billing clients all day, every day, but put yourself into situations where you have a chance to develop new clients. Yes, it is important to work hard and produce good work. But if you want some control over your life and your practice, you need your own clients.