Hugh Spitzer – Becoming a Lawyer

Hugh Spitzer – Becoming a Lawyer


I’m Hugh Spitzer and I’m just going to talk
a bit about my career as a transactions lawyer, thirty year career. Actually, before that, right out of
law school, I started work with a small firm representing labor unions. Clients were great. The cause was great. I did labor and civil rights work. But the work essentially was fighting with
people. It was working in disputes and doing quite
a bit of litigation. And it turned out I really didn’t like doing
that. So after a couple of years doing litigation,
I decided that I really wanted to do policy-oriented work and I switched over and worked for the Seattle
City Council and then the mayor as the staff lawyer for the mayor. And that was fun because I was doing direct
service to the community. Then after four years doing that, I moved
over to a firm, now Foster Pepper, doing municipal bonds. And in that work you work with people in their
communities helping them structure financial transactions for everything from fire stations
to baseball stadiums, schools. Just all the things they need to make their
communities better. The work itself is a fairly complicated array
of tax, securities as well as state law and local government law. It is complicated and you work with a lot
of puzzles, and that’s really quite fun. So, for thirty years now I’ve been working
on those types of transactions, helping people think about what they want to do, think about
the legal issues, structuring the transactions, sometimes negotiating in a collaborative way
with other lawyers and then doing pretty detailed documents relating to the financings. Ultimately, you get to see what you’ve worked
on in the communities where you work and that is a lot of fun. Intellectually, the transaction work is a
lot of fun because it’s challenging and complicated. So, I really have enjoyed it and I like working
in a collaborative way with people. And in terms of things you take in law school
for this, I took classes that were helpful like administrative law, local government
law, legislation, water law. Those are all helpful. In retrospect, I wish I had taken accounting
for lawyers because I do work with finance. And I wish I had taken a basic real estate
course along with my basic tax course because you can use both tax and then real estate
in transactions. Governments actually buy and sell a lot of
property. But, all in all, this is a really rewarding
career, working in a positive way with people and helping them make things happen.

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