So how does a real estate associate who barely found a job at a small local firm become one of the nation’s pre-eminent First Amendment lawyers with his own practice, representing clients like Above the Law or the guy who went head to head with talk radio superstar Glenn Beck in a battle over a domain name? By “keeping his eye on the prize,” as Legal Satyricon Marc Randazza explains in his interview with Bitter Lawyer which I learned of via Scott Greenfield‘s bag of holiday goodies.
In case you thought that a glamorous First Amendment practice is limited to academics or lawyers with a certain pedigree, think again. What’s most inspiring about Marc Randazza is that he didn’t let his circumstances divert his passion from the First Amendment but instead, used his passion to change his circumstances. Consider, for example, his experience at a real estate firm:
The people were great, and they taught me a lot about practicing law ethically. I loved working there. But the work did not inspire me. At end of day, I would find myself working on law review projects and things for free because I was interested in them.
[To make the transition from real estate to First Amendment], I never took my eyes off the prize. When a copyright issue came up, I grabbed the case. When a defamation issue came up (which they often did with homeowners boards), I jumped on those. I made sure to find a way to dovetail what I had to do with what I wanted to do.
Thereafter, Randazza tried to set up a meeting with a highly regarded First Amendment lawyer Larry Walters well known for representing clients in the pornography industry. When he learned that the lawyer was away at a conference, Randazza figured out which one and “basically stalked him.” They hit it off at the conference, and eventually Walters hired Randazza to work at his firm. After five years, Randazza left to work as in-house counsel for Corbin Fisher, a gay porn company that allows Randazza the flexibility to “have a solo practice on the side (mostly pro bono work) where I can take cases that appeal to me.”
Randazza’s philosophy applies to any solo or lawyer. If you’re toiling at work that you can’t stand and a desire to do something else burns within you, keep your eye on the prize and you will find a way.