These are the People in Your JRCLS Neighborhood: Getting to Know Sections Committee Chair Rick Richmond
The JRCLS Newsletter is pleased to continue a series of articles dedicated to learning more about the international leadership positions in the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the people who serve in those positions.
JRCLS Newsletter: If someone researches you on Jenner & Block’s website, they can see what an impressive career you’ve made for yourself: undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, law degree from George Washington University, clerkship on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, etc. What have you found most fulfilling about your career path?
Richmond: My interests over the years have changed. When I went to law school in Washington D.C., I was interested in politics and policy. It seemed that, with those interests, what an enterprising young lawyer should be most interested in was constitutional issues. So as a very young lawyer I thought the highest level of legal work was appellate work. I applied for and was lucky enough to be selected as a law clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, helping to write appellate opinions. I next thought about possibly becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Colorado, where I’m from, but I was offered a position to do appellate work on the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. I spent two years there, briefing and arguing appeals, then went back to Kirkland & Ellis’ D.C. office where I had clerked for two summers during law school. Very quickly, I settled into a general commercial litigation practice, which was much more focused on trials and arbitrations than appellate work. Through experience, I found that I enjoyed trial work the most. In 1997, some of the senior partners asked me to move to Los Angeles to help build the Kirkland & Ellis Los Angeles office. I relocated and was there until 2009, when Jenner & Block approached me to establish their West Coast practice. I have enjoyed the challenge and seeing the fruits of starting the office with one younger person and growing it to nearly 50 attorneys at present.
JRCLS Newsletter: So how would someone find themselves joining your office?
Richmond: I am a big believer in recruiting and grooming people from the youngest level, so I established a summer associate program from the very beginning. We recruit new associates mostly from five schools: Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, USC, and UCLA. Since first starting our Los Angeles summer associate program in 2010, we have had a total of 32 summer associates. All but one of our summer associates has returned to work at Jenner & Block. We have also hired other attorneys off of clerkships over time as well as some lateral hires.
JRCLS Newsletter: Setting aside the business aspects of managing a growing office, what do you find most fulfilling about your current practice?
Richmond: Being in the courtroom; there really is no substitute for that. As I mentioned, I did some appellate work early on in my career and I surely enjoyed it, but as the years have gone on I have become more and more of a trial person. Most of my work is in trials, largely in state and federal courts, although there is still a good deal of dispute resolution work that happens in arbitration. I thoroughly enjoy trial work — both being in trial and pretrial. I enjoy the strategizing, the “chess-move” aspect of litigation strategy.
JRCLS Newsletter: What else is interesting about your particular story that one wouldn’t find in your professional profile? For example, tell me about your family and some of the things you like to do together.
Richmond: I’m from Colorado and served in the New York, New York mission. I married the former Linda DeGraw at BYU and we had our first baby toward the end of law school. We have two daughters, both of whom graduated from BYU and then law school. Our older daughter, Melissa, runs a non-partisan, non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. called Running Start, which trains, encourages, and mentors young women who are interested in serving in elected public office. Our younger daughter, Catharine, worked for a year at the Jones Day law firm in Los Angeles and is now serving as a law clerk on the California Court of Appeal. Our son, David, will be a senior in high school this year. David and I have recently begun climbing and hiking big mountains in the West: Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the Lower 48), The Grand Teton (5.4 technical climb), and Half Dome (cable assisted climb in Yosemite). We are scheduled to climb Longs Peak (Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado) and Mt. Rainier (Washington) in the next few weeks. This has proved to be a good “father-and-son” activity because it requires planning and training and it’s exciting to do the actual climbs.
JRCLS Newsletter: In addition to publications and impressive trial wins, which in and of themselves represent a substantial amount of time, your profile also mentions many organizations you have been involved with in your southern California community. What has driven you to be so charitable with your time?
Richmond: A couple of things: First, I think it’s the right thing to do. If you’re in a position to be involved, you should be involved. Also, I participate to develop friendships and relationships, which can have unanticipated benefits in religious and other ways. \I am very committed to those ends. I believe these efforts build up significant goodwill within the community and with ecclesiastical and other leaders.
JRCLS Newsletter: Even still, with all these other commitments, you decide to spend time serving with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. How long have you been a member and what was your motivation for becoming involved?
Richmond: I think I’ve been a member of the Society since law school. My motivation for doing that seems fairly self-evident: Lawyers who come from a tradition of faith, it’s in our common interest to get together and be unified in our efforts.
JRCLS Newsletter: Obviously you have been very involved with the Law Society over the years otherwise you wouldn’t have been on the radar as Sections Committee Chair. How did this leadership role come about?
Richmond: Mary Hoagland called me and flattered me to death and I couldn’t say no! All my prior experience has been at the local, chapter level.
JRCLS Newsletter: Is there a particularly rewarding experience that stands out in your memory because of your involvement with the JRCLS?
Richmond: My most concrete experience is when I was chair of the Los Angeles Chapter for a couple years. That was a very rewarding experience. In the Los Angeles Chapter, we try hard to put on a significant annual dinner (in addition to regular lunch programs) featuring a high profile keynote speaker, which requires a significant amount of planning. So far, that’s been the best part of my participation: those local activities, particularly the annual dinners.
JRCLS Newsletter: The JRCLS website lists 24 sections within your committee. What exactly does the Sections Committee do?
Richmond: Our objective with the Sections Committee is to try to make the sections substantively valuable to people in the Society. We don’t really have a committee per se; the chair of each section makes up our committee and we have regular conference calls to provide help and support to each chair in their particular efforts. Our job is to make sure that all the sections are alive, functioning, robust, and interesting.
JRCLS Newsletter: With so many sections representing such a variety of legal careers, it seems that one challenge would be the lack of one-size-fits-all support.
Richmond: That is the challenge—to figure out how the chair of each section makes that section a success. But it’s important that we don’t micromanage what the sections do or how they do it. We’re hoping that each section will germinate its own ideas and about how to provide value to its members.
JRCLS Newsletter: What can the members of the Law Society do to support the Sections Committee efforts?
Richmond: It would be our hope and our aim to get everyone in our Law Society to join one or more sections and then within each section find that it gives them value, whether through networking or learning substantive information in an arena in which they can bounce around ideas.
For section links, contact information, and answers to frequently asked questions, be sure to visit the website: http://www.jrcls.org/?folder=committees&page=sections&id=8.
Thank you, Rick, for taking the time to participate in this interview, but even more for your ongoing service to the Law Society and your personal example of excellence and religious conviction as the foundation of your professional endeavors.By Danielle Dallas, Media Committee
Posted: July 29, 2016