Brandon Archuleta did not expect to leave Colorado after graduation. Nevertheless, the same openness that led him to join the mock trial team during law school brought him to his current position as a transactional associate at Lane Powell PC in Seattle, Washington. Archuleta’s open-mindedness has been his a key to his success.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
How did you find your job?
It was truly a serendipitous series of events that brought me to Seattle, but to take a step back, I spent my first two years of practice with Molson Coors Brewing Company (MCBC) as one of their two “legal residents” (think of it as a corporate clerkship). That job provided a unique start to my career and gave me great experience and opportunities to hone my skills. That position is term-limited to two years, but once I started looking for my next opportunity, I was able to leverage the experiences and skills I gained at MCBC, as well as my connections, into my current position at Lane Powell, which is a midsized Pacific Northwest law firm.
I think it’s important to mention that I was not looking to leave Colorado when I was searching for my next job after MCBC. I was truly seeking the best opportunity for me, and while I knew (for various reasons) that I wanted my next step to be in a law firm setting, I approached my search with an open mind about what my next role might look like. Another thing that’s important to mention is that I received a number of rejections before landing a number of offers, including the one here at Lane Powell. And it’s a good thing I did! If one of those firms had hired me earlier, I never would have found what turned out to be the perfect opportunity and role for me. Sometimes you just have to appreciate the struggle.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
Colorado Law was instrumental in helping me land my position with Molson Coors. The Career Development Office helped me create a résumé and cover letter that really conveyed my background and experiences (thanks, Assistant Dean Todd Rogers!). Also, there were innumerable professors and other law school leaders that were willing to advocate on my behalf as a good fit for that position. Lastly, my time at Colorado Law, whether in the classroom or otherwise, opened my eyes to so many different ways of structuring my career and creating a practice that I would truly find interesting and fulfilling.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
There are a lot that I could name, but two really important skills that come to mind are negotiation skills and problem solving. I don’t know any lawyers, in any kind of practice or at any level of their careers, who don’t employ their negotiation skills in serving their clients. There are many different approaches to negotiating, but Professor Scott Peppet’s negotiation courses, and other opportunities (Professor Anna Spain Bradley is also a brilliant negotiation-skills instructor) taught me a lot about what approach would fit my particular demeanor, background, etc. Also, while “problem solving” is a typical skill developed in all law schools, some professors and courses at Colorado Law were unique in training me in an approach that gets to a comprehensive solution without ignoring important considerations like how to use resources and leverage relationships. So many lawyers just try to “solve the problem” without giving credence to the other factors at play.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
First, my mentors (official and unofficial alike) have meant everything to my career. I have been so fortunate to connect with a variety of people from all walks of life, practice areas, and career levels, and those individuals have provided guidance and insights that have created opportunities and that have also helped me take advantage of those opportunities. Next, the relationships I have with other associates, partners, and (especially) support staff at my firm make the work more enjoyable and also have carried me through the tough challenges. There will inevitably be challenges in any legal career, and creating a strong support system through genuine relationship building is what got me through many of my challenges so far. Lastly, it can be difficult to maintain a positive relationship with other lawyers, particularly those adverse to you, but I have found that treating them with respect and understanding that we are all advocating for our clients can often be the best way to achieve a great outcome for my clients.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
Build relationships, use any and every resource available to you, but the most important thing for me was to be open-minded and positive. While you’re in law school you have such a great opportunity to try new things, meet people, and create a unique path for yourself, and I just tried to do all of those things with a positive mindset and genuine curiosity. For instance, I was on the national mock trial team at Colorado Law, and now I will likely never be a trial attorney. But I did it because I was good at it, enjoyed it, and it gave me a unique set of experiences upon which I could build a sustainable practice and convey a narrative about what type of lawyer I am and hope to become. It can be hard in law school, but never limit yourself to traditional ways of thinking or well-trodden paths to certain practices just because others are telling you that you have to do it that way. Approach every opportunity and challenge with openness to the possibilities and positivity. Then the best job opportunities will come.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
I come from a lower socioeconomic background, and early on in law school, I often found myself intimidated by the classwork, by successful experienced attorneys, and even by my classmates, but Colorado Law perfectly melded rigorous academics with a humane and supportive environment. Colorado Law gave me the confidence that I could become a great lawyer someday by giving me the tools and support to overcome my challenges, allowing me to humbly celebrate my successes, and serving as a conduit to opportunities that I never dreamed would exist for me. While I’m still working toward the “great lawyer” part, I know that Colorado Law gave me the strong base upon which to build toward that goal.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
There are always a number of factors for anyone choosing a law school, but once I narrowed my choices to the top few that fit my location, price, etc. considerations, Colorado Law stood above the rest in terms of recognizing me as an individual. The leadership at Colorado Law demonstrated from day one that I would receive the training and attention that would foster growth and allow me to develop into the person and lawyer that I hoped to become. For the record, I am extremely happy that I chose to go to Colorado Law and will proudly tell anyone where I went to law school.