In her own words: Employment attorney Dora Lane
Name/title: Dora Lane/Partner, Holland & Hart
Number of years in this job: I made partner in January of 2012, but I have been with Holland & Hart since the combination between Hale Lane and Holland & Hart in July of ’08. Before that I was an associate of Hale Lane. I started in August of 2004.
Years in this profession: About 10 years.
Education: I have a bachelor’s degree in finance from Fresno State, and a juris doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Last book read: “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane),” by Gavin de Becker
Favorite flick: “The Last of the Mohicans.” I named my daughter after the Madeleine Stowe character.
What’s on your iPod: “The Script” most recently. They are an Irish band that’s a mix of various styles. They are influenced by U2 quite a bit.
Spouse, kids or pets: My husband Zeph and I have been married for eight years. We have two kids and a dog named Butter.
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Holland & Hart and your responsibilities.
Lane: Holland & Hart is a full-service firm, so we have folks that can do anything a client would possibly need, which is one of the things I really enjoy about working here. For example, a client might have an intellectual property need, or a securities need, and inevitably there is someone in one of our offices who does that kind of work. We have more than 440 lawyers throughout the Mountain West — we have offices in New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington D.C. I am one of five employment lawyers in Nevada. I have a fairly evenly split practice that is transactional and litigation. I really enjoy getting involved before there is litigation and helping the client either avoid litigation, if possible, or if not — position themselves in such a way that if litigation comes they are in the best possible position to defend it. I enjoy that proactive aspect of employment law, and of course there is always litigation.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession and employment law in particular?
Lane: That was a bit of a long road. When I first came to this country I was under the illusion that I was going back to Bulgaria at some point in time. Communism was recently overturned in my country, so the natural progression of things was that we would need some foreign investment to get the economy up and going, and we would need to establish laws and procedures. I was initially aspiring to do international law and facilitate relations with foreign investors who would come to Bulgaria and try to better the economy of the country. I became disillusioned with that notion, but I still was interested in law. I took some business law classes in college and really enjoyed it. I am a former athlete, so litigation appealed to my competitive nature. I started as a commercial litigator here. Anthony Hall, one of my employment law partners, eventually came on board, and I started working with him. He needed the help and I enjoyed the work.
NNBW: What do you like most about being an attorney and your focus in employment law?
Lane: I can help people figure out problems. A lot of lawyers are not problem solvers; they are problem creators. What appeals to me about employment law is its versatility. It is a niche practice, but it’s an ever-changing body of law so you can never think you know it all because a new case will come out and completely revamp the whole landscape.
NNBW: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being an attorney?
Lane: Time management and balance between personal life and work life. Everyone has an iPhone or Blackberry, and the expectation is that you are on call virtually 24/7. I regularly work nights and weekends. At the same time, I enjoy the flexibility. Some days I am able to leave at 4 and get my kids and get my work done at night. It’s a bit of a challenge to separate personal and professional life and have enough time for everybody, but I don’t think that is unique to the law profession.
NNBW: As you built your family from two to four, how did you balance the need to nurture your young children with the demands of your career?
Lane: I don’t — it is impossible to do both fully balanced every day. Some days are better than others. I have a very understanding and supportive husband, and if he weren’t that helpful and supportive I’d be a in a world of hurt. We have a great number of friends — unfortunately we don’t have close family around here — so we rely on friends and babysitters to help us out. Shelly Hall (my partner Anthony’s wife) has often helped us with last-minute emergencies. You just come to grips with the fact that you are not going to be the best parent and the best lawyer all day every day. It all has to balance over time; it is not a day-to-day balancing act.
NNBW: When did you first come to the United States?
Lane: January 13, 1996. I turned 20 the day I landed.
NNBW: What did you find to be the most striking or difficult aspect of American culture to assimilate?
Lane: There is a greater degree of freedom and greater responsibility placed on young adults in Europe. A lot of it has to do with the lifestyle — people walk everywhere. Here parents have to drive you. I found that kids my age in their 20s in America were far less mature than their counterparts in Europe because there was much more freedom given to younger people where I grew up.
NNBW: You came to the United States on a tennis scholarship to California State University-Fresno. Your senior year you were ranked fourth in the nation. What’s your favorite memory of your playing days?
Lane: We played the finals of the Western Athletic Conference in New Mexico against New Mexico. The altitude was a challenge — the balls were flying all over the place. We were in the final match and the weather got bad. We had to move inside in a bubble, and we had the entire New Mexico crowd inside the bubble sitting on bleachers. People were banging big plastic containers on the bleachers to make noise while we were hitting to get us to miss. We won that match, and it was just awesome. Our whole team was behind us, and the entire crowd was against us.
NNBW: Do you still play, and do you struggle to find competition at your level?
Lane: I play on weekends mostly because there is no time during the week. I hit with a former college opponent of mine who played for UNR when I played for Fresno, and there are some guys I play with.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Lane: I worked for The Sourcing Interest Group right after of college.
NNBW: Tell us about your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?
Lane: I have asked myself that for many years, and I have not come up with something that I would like better than what I do right now. I’m thinking that is a pretty good sign.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Lane: Don’t take it personally. What we do can be really taxing on the soul. Once a client calls, especially for clients in litigation, there already is a problem. People are not happy, and litigation is expensive. You have to help people who are in a very difficult position both legally and emotionally. You have pressure from all kinds of directions, and you have your personal life to balance against that.
NNBW: What’s the most fun you have had on the job?
Lane: Winning a jury trial. I also enjoy winning on summary judgment, which is an opportunity for us to get a case dismissed before it actually goes to trial.
NNBW: How do you spend your free time away from work?
Lane: Free time? That doesn’t exist. I like to exercise; that is how I stay sane. I go running or play tennis and try to spend a time with the family.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Lane: I wanted to be No. 1 in the world in tennis.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Lane: Doing something active. I am coming up for a three-month sabbatical, and I am planning on going back to Bulgaria. It is my first one. I have never been one to require a lot of vacation. This will definitely be an experience being away.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Lane: The sense of a community. I came from a small town about the size of Reno, and this reminds me a lot of where I grew up. There is a river running through my hometown much like the river we have here. The types of people here enjoy the outdoors, and there are lots of community activities. There is a place for me here, and it feels like home.
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