Niche Law Jobs – Being A Land Use Lawyer

Niche Law Jobs – Being A Land Use Lawyer


Marc Luber: Hey everyone – welcome to JD
Careers Out There – a career show featuring advice from lawyers and non-practicing lawyers
– to help you achieve SUCCESS & HAPPINESS in your career as a JD. A big part of that is finding a path that
excites you – and today we’re looking at the path of being a Land Use lawyer. Our guest is Ben Reznik, one of the top, go-to
Land Use partners in all of Los Angeles, where he’s the department chair at Jeffer Mangels
Butler & Mitchell. Ben told us all about working in this practice
area – and here’s a little look at how that went: Ben Reznik: Well my practice has focused on
the field of land use and environmental law now for the past 37 years. And what that entails is focusing full-time
on issues of real estate development – so we deal with zoning matters, and real estate
development matters, environmental issues. We deal with municipalities, planning commissions,
city councils, trying to get projects approved. We deal with communities and the public hearings,
so it’s a very broad array of things we do in order to help a client get approvals
for their projects. We do this throughout the state of California. We have an office in San Francisco, Los Angeles
and Irvine. And we have clients that are not just builders
of housing or retail or office, but we apply our talents to situations where we represent
the mining industry, for example. They have to go through entitlements and approvals
for mines. We’ve represented people at the ports where
they need to get approvals for projects at the port. Energy projects: we’ve represented a major
international company seeking to build a liquefied natural gas facility. So our experience is pretty broad, but our
bread and butter, I would say, is certainly representing builders and developers in urban
and suburban areas. Luber: OK. Ben Reznik: And we have a staff of lawyers
who are dedicated to that full-time. Most of them have had some training before
they became lawyers in the field. They may have been working for a city, they
may have worked for a city attorney, they may have worked in politics, they may have
worked as an architect, and so, I like that combination of lawyers because they’re dedicated
to the field, they’re committed to it, they understand it and it comes natural to them. Luber: How many people are on your team? Ben Reznik: Well, the department right now
is at 15 people and 3, 4 years ago before the recession hit, we were almost twice that
number. So we’ve adjusted, like everyone else, had
to survive, but it still makes us one of the largest full-time land use groups, really,
in the city and probably still in the state. We compete for large projects and small projects. We do litigation in our field as well and
so if things don’t go well in getting the entitlements or someone sues to stop the entitlement,
we get involved in the litigation on behalf of the client. So that’s both at the Trial Court and at
the Appeals Courts. So we get to argue our own cases; I think
that makes us better lawyers for also doing the administrative work, because I think when
you have worked on the litigation end, you just become a better lawyer and you’re more
effective or more articulate maybe when you’re before a planning commission or a city council
or when you’re just in meetings with staff where they see you as you’re really a lawyer,
you’re not just a lobbyist, you’re more than that. Luber: Right. Ben Reznik: So that’s our practice. Luber: OK. And so, basically, it sounds like the practice
area, for an attorney looking at this area, considering becoming an attorney in this space,
there’s different aspects to it. There’s a litigation component, transactional
component… Ben Reznik: Correct. Luber: …and then the advocacy, lobbying
type of component? Ben Reznik: Right. Luber: All three of those are part of…OK. Ben Reznik: It’s all part of it. Luber: OK. And can you give us an example of an exciting
fact pattern so that if someone’s exploring this area of law, what’s a typical common
scenario that someone would be dealing with so we can get them jazzed up to say, “Wow,
I want to do that. I want to deal with that kind of stuff”? Luber: In the Full Interview, Ben tells us
all about practicing land use law, what the work is like, who makes a good fit for this
path and what it takes to succeed. You can find that at JDCareersOutThere.com. In law school, you learn how to THINK, READ
& WRITE like a lawyer. We’re here to help you ENJOY your career
and thrive. That’s our mission. Please join us and take a shortcut to the
site by going to JDCOT.com. If you’re already at the site, you can scroll
down to the full version – be sure to become a member so you can watch the full interview
and get access to lots more exclusive content filled with great advice. Thanks again for watching everyone – I’m
Marc Luber and look forward to seeing you again soon. Take care.

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