William R. Settles, Partner
Describe your career trajectory
Until my junior year in college, I thought I was going to be a doctor. Once I recognized my aversion to blood and sick people, I needed something different to do. I tagged along with my roommate to a moot court presentation and found I really enjoyed it. Two years later I was a first-year law student at Notre Dame looking for a summer job. I thought medical malpractice defense was a way to stay close to the medical profession, so I asked a friend’s father, who was an attorney, who the best medical malpractice defense attorney in Nebraska was. He said Bill Lamson, so I applied for the job. I was fortunate enough to get hired as a law clerk in 1990 and an associate in 1992. My friend’s father wasn’t wrong, and I spent the next 30 years trying to learn as much as I could from some truly great trial lawyers, some of whom are still my partners. Now I find myself learning from a younger generation who are bringing technology into the courtroom and a more scientific approach to persuasion. The best part of practicing as a trial attorney, to me, is there is always more to learn.
What’s the most unique part about working at LDM?
The collective experience of LDM’s attorneys is an endless resource. Over the years, the Firm has handled virtually every type of case imaginable. As a result, whenever I encounter a tough issue, I find that someone at some time has dealt with the issue before and can point me in the right direction.
What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — you learned in the last month?
That I will never, no matter how hard I try, understand how to use NetDocs.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who is just starting their career?
The experiences of others are your best learning resource. But you have to be proactive about it. Attorneys are usually poor teachers because they are too focused on what they are doing to think about mentoring you. So find an attorney you respect and ask for some of their time to pick their brain. Even better, ask to tag along to a deposition, hearing, etc. There is no better way to learn than by watching someone with talent and experience do what they’re good at. But you have to seek out those opportunities and be persistent.
What are you currently reading, listening to or binge-watching?
Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens
What inspired you to become an attorney?
Law school meant I could live off my parents for three more years. Thanks much, Bill.