Top Lawyers: Rodney Yadidi of Theory Law On The 5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law
… I had a great experience in law school. Aside from the education, I am grateful for the relationships I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned. I do believe it had a part in my success. However, I don’t think law school prepares you for the realities of lawyering in the real world. I know many attorneys who went to unaccredited law schools and they run a successful practice. I believe the importance of going to a top-tier law school depends on the applicant’s circumstances and what they want. Of course, where you went to law school is one of many things some firms consider when hiring. But, if that firm is not where you want to be when you start practicing, then the pros and cons become more clear. The school’s ranking, or whether it’s top-tier, should not be the only consideration when choosing a school.
The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law”, we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rodney Yadidi.
Rodney Yadidi founded Theory Law APC during the pandemic, after working nearly a decade at some of the most respected law firms in California, where he had the opportunity to protect the rights of employees and serve people who were injured by others. He draws from that experience to offer employees and those injured throughout California representation from the pre-litigation stage through all phases of litigation, including trial, as he advocates their individual rights with a modernized law firm approach. His vision of a modern law firm is one that is different from the traditional approach by expanding access to all using communication advancements and by streamlining its legal services. When it comes to each person it helps, Theory Law takes a transparent, compassionate, and individual-focused approach to legal care.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?
Growing up in Los Angeles with parents who had graduate degrees, one a veterinarian and the other a dentist, I was naturally drawn to a career path involving some medical practice. It was very common in the Persian community for parents to push their kids to become doctors, pharmacists or some other profession involving a medical practice. Thankfully, my parents never pushed me to pursue a specific profession.
The realization I wanted to become an attorney did not come all at once. There were several points in my life that sparked my interest to become an attorney and a brief period that changed my path. The point in my life I believe sparked my interest was my senior year of high school after the car I was driving was unlawfully towed.
After this incident, I became intrigued by civil rights and laws that protected people from being taken advantage of by others. However, there was a brief period my career path changed, and I wanted to become a pharmacist. I studied on my own, took the exam, and became a pharmacy technician. I realized after working at a pharmacy that my passion to pursue a career as an attorney was greater.
My father passed away two months before I was set to marry my wife, the same year I was starting law school. Yes, we did not delay the wedding because many friends and family told us my father would have not wanted us to delay it. I attended law school in Los Angeles at Southwestern Law School that year and was in the top percentile of my class. My wife and I had our first daughter during my last year of law school, and while I was blessed and fortunate to have opportunities to work for a few respected law firms, I believed those opportunities wouldn’t have allowed me to have a balanced presence in my personal and professional life. So, I started my career at a smaller firm with a focus on civil rights, and had the opportunity to work for a larger firm later in my career.
I gained invaluable experience after working for several firms, small and large. Besides the experience practicing law, these opportunities gave me knowledge about the differences in management as a business. I gained a perspective about the business operations and the amount of time that can be spent doing non-legal management tasks. I learned how a well-structured system operates and how to maintain a team structure for that system. Given these experiences, and my desire to revolutionize the traditional law firm, I wanted to create a law firm that modernizes the traditional law firm to provide greater access to everyone. The pandemic made this vehemently clear.
The build up of these experiences and realizations was a substantial factor leading me to create Theory Law. My vision was to create a modernized law firm that expands access to all with an individualized and personalized focus. Theory Law also modernizes every step of the pre-litigation and litigation process. More importantly, I want the people I am helping to feel that I am always available, reliable, and here for them when they need me. I believe Theory Law does all these things.
Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?
My practice focuses on all stages of the legal process, from the pre-litigation stage to all phases of litigation, including trial, arbitration and mediation. My practice specializes in helping California employees protect their rights in all areas of employment law some of which includes discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination. I also specialize in helping people who were injured in California by all types of incidents including, automobile accidents, slip and falls, product defects. I am also starting a bi-weekly 60 second video blog educating viewers about the law, called “Legal 60 with Theory Law.”
You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Throughout my personal and professional life experiences, I learned that having a positive perspective was very important. I realized my perspective to an event, whether I treated it as an obstacle or a challenge to me, can have a negative or positive outcome. I did not want to treat the event as an obstacle to overcome. Instead, I made it a challenge. Whether it was a court filing, bad facts in a case, or a barrier to resolution, I turned it into a challenge and tried to use it to my advantage.
Second, I believe my willingness to meet or talk to people, and create new relationships was a huge part of my success. Networking is extremely important for an attorney and a firm’s success. I found there are many attorneys, and non-attorneys, who wanted to network with me and see me succeed, and ultimately played a part in my success.
Finally, I think my professional demeanor and my genuine desire to help others were a part of it too. This also includes being professional to the people involved in your client’s case: the opposing side, the court clerk, the judge. If an attorney is acting irrational or unprofessional toward the person who has a decision-making role in the client’s case, he’s not acting in the best interest of his client. Attorneys can be professional and advocate zealously for the client.
Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?
I am thankful and blessed to have a great wife and wonderful friends and family who have supported me throughout my personal and professional life. I couldn’t have done it without them. Having said that, I believe in luck and wouldn’t be surprised if luck had a part in my success. There’s a saying I am sure you’ve heard before: “everything happens for a reason.” I think, along my path, certain things lined up that put pieces in place for me to succeed. But, I believe it took effort on my part as well. There are little bits and pieces placed in everyone’s path that can give opportunities to obtain the desired result. So, I do believe a part of It has to do with me putting in the work to get the result.
Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?
I had a great experience in law school. Aside from the education, I am grateful for the relationships I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned. I do believe it had a part in my success. However, I don’t think law school prepares you for the realities of lawyering in the real world. I know many attorneys who went to unaccredited law schools and they run a successful practice. I believe the importance of going to a top-tier law school depends on the applicant’s circumstances and what they want. Of course, where you went to law school is one of many things some firms consider when hiring. But, if that firm is not where you want to be when you start practicing, then the pros and cons become more clear. The school’s ranking, or whether it’s top-tier, should not be the only consideration when choosing a school.
Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?
Obviously, I would tell myself which company’s stock to purchase. Like, Apple and Amazon, and to be ready for Tesla.
I think it’s always easier to look at things in hindsight, but it is the experiences in life that give us lessons to learn and grow. I’d tell my younger self to network more and say yes to more invitations. To not be afraid of big leaps, like starting your own business, because the other side is great. To start developing myself both professionally and financially sooner rather than later. I’d also tell my younger self to continue working and saving more money.
This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?
It is a great feeling knowing I’ve helped someone. I think part of it also involves accountability, that a manufacture puts on a warning on their product. Along with that, it’s the little things. Like, learning that my client’s stress is relieved by showing video surveillance footage to insurance that proved she was not at fault. Or, listening to a client who needed to vent about some of his difficulties. I’ll never forget the feeling when I was told by a client that they are thankful for my help, and that because of it, they were able to buy a house with the money they received from the settlement.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Aside from some of the cases I am handling, I am creating 60 second legal education videos that are informative for the “Legal 60 with Theory Law” video blog that can be viewed on Instagram and Youtube. I plan on incorporating some legal knowledge for employees and those who were injured, as well as some behind the scenes of what some attorneys do in a day and touching on some of the changes to the legal world due to covid.
Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?
The creation of a law firm that expands access to everyone in a way that has never been done before has been a passion of mine for some time. It is exciting to finally bring Theory Law to life and see where it goes. The plan is to grow the firm and further expand its reach to others that need help and to show them that access to an attorney is actually easy. I want more people to see what Theory Law can do for them. I want to continue to share the success of the firm with others. I am also always looking to learn and find ways to improve.
Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story”? Can you share the funniest?
One war story I am proud of is when I was working for a small firm, and the opposing side filed a motion for summary judgment against our client, which if we lost, would have dismissed our client’s case. We prepared documents to oppose their motion and filed them for the hearing. The other side had a final opportunity to file a response to our documents, which they did. Everyone at the office thought there was a good chance the client’s case would get dismissed. I appeared at the hearing not knowing whether the judge would rule in our favor or theirs, sometimes the judge releases his or her ruling before the hearing. The judge heard in-person arguments from both sides and denied their motion. So, our client’s case survived.
Ok, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?
I do work remotely at times, but it’s more of a hybrid set up. I prefer to meet clients and interact with them in-person if they want to. I have seen other firms starting to shift to hybrid workspaces, both small and large firms, where the firm’s staff comes into the office on different days. For example, I’ve seen a workspace where Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the paralegals and assistants come in to the office while on those days the attorneys work remotely, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the attorneys come in while the others work remotely.
Covid has made everyone re-evaluate our footprint on the world and whether it is necessary for everyone to come into the office everyday. I believe getting out of your comfort zone and your home is a good thing, but the mind also needs space from the cubicle or office setting too. Everything needs to be in moderation and balance.
How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?
Not only are law firms making changes, courts have also been making changes since covid. Courts are streamlining access to litigators as well as non-attorneys who need to use their services. Some courts already allow litigators to appear remotely via video or audio teleconference and the e-filing of documents. I had a hearing where a mother and daughter appeared via the video teleconference option that the court offered. Some have even changed the manner a jury is selected.
Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?
Attorneys have already started to use social media to post videos or photos. Some attorneys use Instagram, TikTok and Youtube to share legal knowledge, share settlement awards, or discuss legal matters related to their practice areas. Video posts have become popular on Instagram, as Reels, and some are generally using this feature to educate their viewers. Creating a post that captures the viewer’s attention long enough and your following can grow.
Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.
The five things I believe every lawyer needs are know your client, gain mastery of your field of law, be willing to make sacrifices, be professional, and don’t have an ego.
Starting with knowing your client. You need to know your client well. No, not by doing a background check. I mean, you need to understand what they are going through, their goals and needs, what they do on a day-to-day basis. They came to you because they needed your help and they will lean on you for your legal advice, so make time to learn the little things and the details about them. With personal injury, you can learn how the incident affected your client’s life by spending a day with them. Or, have dinner with them. Learn about what they were able to do before this incident and what they are having difficulty doing, or no longer able to do, after the incident. Speak with the people around them to learn what they’ve observed about the client. Similar things can be done on an employment case: understand what they are going through at their job or what emotions they are dealing with if they lost their job. Without knowing your client, you wouldn’t know what’s best for them.
Mastery of your field of law involves learning your craft — becoming one with the law you practice almost to the point you are living and breathing it. You want to immerse yourself in it. Most people will say learn the law inside and out, but it needs to be a step further. Taking it a step further by learning about the most recent changes to the law, practicing your oral arguments, reviewing the documents you’ve prepared multiple times with multiple edits, knowing the procedural law, practicing voire dire questions, practicing opening and closing statements, doing an actual investigation, preparing for depositions, observing how the top attorneys in the field you practice are doing it. These are some of the things that take it a step further besides just learning the law.
Getting to the top lawyer level does not happen without making sacrifices. You have to be willing to make sacrifices on your way to the top. Do you think Michael Jordan was able to become the greatest basketball player ever because he did not make sacrifices? This part involves making sacrifices to your personal life. There will be things in your personal life you have to be willing to not participate in and there will be friends or family that may become upset with you. If you are married and have kids, you may have to tell your son or daughter you are not going to make basketball practice or come to a school performance. If you are single, you may have to tell your friends or family you won’t be able to come to their event or join them in their weekend getaway. I remember I missed my daughter’s preschool graduation because I was in mediation. Given the sacrifices one must make, I do believe having a hobby or passion outside of the practice of law is crucial.
Showing professionalism to those around you as well as those involved in your case. I touched on this before as a trait, but I think it is necessary to become a top lawyer. Whether it’s a judge, your client, the department clerk, or the other side, you will not help your client by being unprofessional to them.
Lastly, ego can become a barrier to advocating zealously as well a resolution for your client. Letting go of ego involves an understanding of whether the legal decisions you make are influenced by your ego. Learn to put your ego aside to make a legal decision in the best interest of the client. Being professional can also play a role here if you get caught up in the moment and let your ego control your emotions, but again, it wouldn’t be productive or help your client’s case.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Ryan Reynolds. I love to laugh and his movies generally me make laugh. Not sure how true this is, but someone told me a fan ran into him in the bathroom of a restaurant and Ryan asked him if he wanted to join him and his wife, Blake Lively at their table. The fan of course said yes. I was told Ryan’s ability to make people laugh was not limited to the silver screen. Both Ryan and Blake were described as a kind couple. It sounded like it was a memorable experience.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!