Cal State Fullerton business alumni are making an impact throughout the professional world, including in the legal field. In January 2021, CSUF finance grad Amanda Thatcher ’10 became a partner in the business transactions practice group at Lewis Roca, an Am Law 200 law firm serving clients globally in complex litigation, intellectual property, business transactions, gaming, government relations, labor and employment, and regulatory counseling.
Lewis Roca is the firm that litigated Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court case giving rise to “Miranda Rights” that had a significant impact on law enforcement around the world.
Thatcher represents clients in business and personal planning matters; she was recognized as a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star for business/corporate law in 2020 and named by The Best Lawyers in America “Ones to Watch” for tax law in 2021.
The University of New Mexico J.D. grad discusses her career, CSUF experience and inspiration for her fellow Titans – especially women – in this interview with CSUF Business News.
What do you find most rewarding about your role as a member of the law firm’s business transactions group?
There are so many rewarding aspects of my role at Lewis Roca, but the one that especially stands out is the relationships that I have created – both within and outside the firm. I have met, learned from and collaborated with brilliant legal minds and true trailblazers in the industry. Lewis Roca in particular is filled with such an accomplished and diverse group of lawyers, and I am truly blessed to work with such respected colleagues and mentors who support me and provide an exemplary model of what it means to be a lawyer and practice law.
As part of my practice, I enjoy helping people solve problems. I help businesses and business-minded individuals execute their business strategies, in some cases achieving goals that they have been working on for many years. For my estate planning clients, I assist them in planning for their futures and taking care of their loved ones, supporting charitable causes and watching their families grow.
So often, lawyers work in strictly adversarial roles. While there are certainly adverse parties in business transactions and trust and estate administration, the vast majority of my practice is problem-solving and helping parties work together to achieve common goals.
You have been recognized as a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star in the area of business/corporate law and named by The Best Lawyers in America’s “Ones to Watch” for tax law in 2021. What are your thoughts on these accomplishments? Where do you see yourself in years to come?
In the years to come, I hope my contributions as an advocate for my clients allows them to accomplish their goals and leads to long-lasting attorney/client relationships. I am fortunate to have been recognized for my dedication to providing quality service and understanding clients’ needs beyond just the practice of law. I look forward to continuing to hone my skills and striving to provide the most beneficial options for my clients when representing their business and estate planning needs. It is an honor to know the work I do makes a difference in my clients’ lives.
After earning your finance degree at CSUF, you went on to earn a J.D. and MBA degree at University of New Mexico. How did your CSUF education prepare you for law school?
Having gone through the business coursework at CSUF, I certainly had an advantage when I was working on the dual J.D./MBA. And my background in business is an integral part of my corporate practice.
I was a nontraditional student at CSUF in that I worked full time during the day and attended school at night – at times taking as many as five classes per semester and a full load during the summer. Working full time and going to school full time required me to be motivated, organized and efficient, and those skills have stayed with me today.
The upper division courses at CSUF were largely project based and prepared me for team collaboration and leadership. Project-based learning was the beginning of my ability to analyze complex issues and taught me how to discuss, disagree with other viewpoints and ultimately persuade others – all imperative for a lawyer. While I was one of the people who always dreaded group projects, my group members are those that I stayed closest to out of college.
What advice would you give to CSUF students or alumni – especially women – on why and how they should pursue legal careers?
A legal career is not an easy one, but it is so rewarding. I am very much a people person, and my clients, mentors and colleagues have really made this career such an enjoyable one for me. I would encourage anyone considering a legal career to talk to practicing lawyers to see what the practice of law is really like, to get a sense of a day in the life (or a year in the life) of a lawyer.
Women have made great strides in the legal industry but are still under-represented at the partner ranks. The reasons for this are heavily studied, but achieving increased representation has been somewhat slow. There are obviously additional challenges for women with families (or really any caregiver), but the challenges can be overcome.
My best advice is not to look for the reasons you cannot pursue a legal career – look for the reasons you can. If you wait for the perfect time to do something (go back to school, change your career, start a family, go to law school, etc.), you’ll never do it!
When my husband and I started our family is a great example of imperfect timing. I had my first child literally during the middle of a take-home midterm my second year of law school and was back at school days later with a full J.D./MBA course load. Our son was only two months old when I started at Lewis Roca as a summer associate in between my second and third years of law school. After law school, I clerked for the Arizona Court of Appeals and had my second child with six weeks remaining in my clerkship. I circulated a draft opinion to a panel of judges, and seven hours later, our second son was born. With the grace of my judge and her allowing me to work from home or bring the little one to chambers, I returned to work immediately thereafter. I had my third child after I had switched from litigation to a transactional practice at Lewis Roca – just to keep timing interesting! It was not until our daughter was born that I was finally able to take a maternity leave. And to shake things up a bit more, through all of this, my husband was starting a new business and has traveled out-of-state two out of every three weeks since our first child was 10 months old.
None of this was ideal timing. I could have put my legal career on hold to have children, or I could have put my family on hold to pursue my legal career. I chose to do both. I won’t say that you can “have it all,” but you can definitely have both. All you need is a little – or a lot – of grit and resilience.