Steve Thayer, partner at Handler Thayer, currently serves as the chairman of the firm’s commercial practice group that includes the firm’s business and corporate practice, real estate practice, and sports and entertainment law practice.
What do you find the most interesting about your practice?
Al Pacino once said that lawyers have “the ultimate back stage pass.” Unfortunately, Al Pacino used that pass to play the devil in the 1997 thriller “The Devil’s Advocate.” In any event, you will find lawyers behind the scenes of virtually every major business and personal transaction. What I find most interesting about the practice of law is that you are put in a position to help clients through these major life events from a unique vantage point.
What makes a good lawyer?
A good lawyer is thoughtful, creative, and resourceful. Being thoughtful is having a good bed-side manner and realizing that you first have to be human and considerate of the needs of others. A good lawyer knows how to work and play well with others because he is considerate and thoughtful of the needs of others.
A good lawyer also needs to be creative when it comes to solving problems and helping clients. One of the advantages of being an outside advisor is that you have the ability to see things objectively. A good lawyer will see both sides of every issue and be able to give the client good objective advice.
Finally, a lawyer must be resourceful and be able to find answers to client questions. You do not have to be an expert in all things, but you need to be able to find the expert, or be resourceful enough to find the right answer.
What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?
There is a massive regulatory shift taking place in Washington due in part to the economic crises and in part to the objectives of the new Obama Administration. Government agencies, such as the IRS, SEC, FBI, Federal Trade Commission, and Department of Justice, are all increasing their enforcement efforts and regulatory oversight of our banking, financial, and business markets. The administration is passing and considering the passage of sweeping reforms to our existing regulatory framework. The economic crises triggered many of these initiatives which parallel the response to the Great Depression. From 1933-1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed through several economic programs known as The New Deal focusing on “relief, recovery, and reform” to respond to the Great Depression. Social Security, bank reform, securities legislation, new administrative agencies, and a host of other landmark laws and executive orders were issued to respond to that economic crisis.
The same thing is happening today, and just like in 1933, people are complaining that the government is getting too big, taking unconstitutional action, and creating an unnecessary tax burden. This all represents a “field day” for lawyers who will now have to help clients respond to government actions and interpret new laws and regulations. Whether you think this is a good thing or bad thing for America probably depends upon your view of the role of government. The current administration clearly has a more paternalistic approach to solving American’s problems.