Why did you decide to join the Foreign Service?
I was a partner in a Salt Lake firm and a judge pro tem thinking about a full-time move to the judiciary when my wife and I decided we needed more adventure in our lives. I became a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department about four years ago, and we have served in Angola, Virginia, and now Latvia. I never thought diplomacy would be my path when I was in law school, but it has been a great fit for me and my family. And we are definitely having an adventure.
How did UNLV Law prepare you to be a diplomat?
Successful lawyers are able to quickly gather and distill information into organized, coherent, and persuasive form, and Boyd was a great place to learn to do that. Briefing cases, researching for professors, and drafting and editing legal writing during law school prepared me for practice and are all skills that transfer directly to my work as a diplomat.
What do you wish you would have done differently at the beginning of your career?
I should have spent more time thinking about what motivated me and what I wanted out of my work life beyond comfort and security. I thought I was doing that, but I should have spent MORE time thinking about it. I loved law school and my clerkships, but I ultimately ended up mistaking what I thought I could achieve as a lawyer for what I wanted to do. It took me several years, and a few law firms, to finally admit I did not enjoy private practice and to be okay with that. Life really is too short to spend a career doing something you don't enjoy.
What is one of the best moments of your diplomatic career so far?
It’s not the Fourth of July every day working as a diplomat, but there are some great moments where you can see you are making an impact and that is very rewarding. When I was the acting consul in Luanda, several American Muslims were caught up in a nationwide dragnet and risked being sent to a notorious prison if I didn’t find them first. It took my team about five hours to track them down and secure their release. When I finally found them among hundreds of other detainees in a remote staging area, they were ecstatic, jumping up and down and shouting for joy. I have never had clients happier with my services.