Meet the Attorney: Todd Thacker
Walsworth has more than 50 attorneys and just as many stories! In the next installment of our revitalized Meet the Attorney series, we would like to introduce you to Todd Thacker.
Following 20 years in practice, Todd joined Walsworth’s San Francisco office as a partner more than three years ago. Todd was born in Sacramento, but as an Air Force brat, he actually grew up in Texas, Nebraska, Alabama, California, Guam, Nebraska (again) and California (again). He attended United States Military Academy at West Point for two years of college, but moved back to California in the late 1990s.
As an attorney, Todd is an experienced appellate lawyer and has directed the drafting of numerous appeals and writs in California as a certified appellate specialist. Todd has also litigated product liability, corporate, toxic tort, insurance coverage and contract disputes.
Here are Todd’s answers to questions posed about his life as an appellate and litigation attorney with Walsworth:
What does being part of the Walsworth Family mean to you?
It really does feel like a family. I’ve been at a few other law firms and Walsworth has felt the most like a true team. Attorneys are willing to help each other across practice areas because the attorneys all know each other on a personal level and know their strengths. Being a part of this kind of atmosphere in a firm has helped my work product, morale and motivation. This is so different from an “every person for themselves” situation that can quickly become draining. Also, because of how diverse the firm is, it’s easy to get many different perspectives from people of many backgrounds, ages and experience levels, which can get me out of my own head and confirmation bias.
What do you find the most rewarding or satisfying about the practice of law?
The most rewarding moment you can have in law is getting a favorable resolution for a client after months or years of team effort. The feeling of shared accomplishment is fantastic and knowing that I was personally integral to achieving a particular result is unmatched. I think of our successes as a feel-good moment for both the client and the firm. With appellate law in particular, the result can come after many years that can keep you on pins and needles while waiting for the court’s decision. It is not for the weak of heart, but the professional payoff is worth it.
What would people be the most surprised to learn about you?
I’m a black belt in the Korean martial arts discipline called Kuk Sool Won. I have a relatively laid back personality, so I don’t think a lot of people would make the connection between me and martial arts. I have found that going into the studio to practice or train allows me to reset come back to whatever I was doing before with a fresh view.
If you could instantly become an expert in one thing, what would it be?
Languages. If I could possibly have a universal translator so I could always be able to communicate with the same proficiency and fluency that I have with English, I would be overjoyed. I would love to go to other countries, but I do feel limited because of the language barrier. I consider English an art. I find it very easy to communicate in English, so it’s frustrating that I’m unable to do the same in other languages.
What was the last book you read and do you have any recommendations?
I just finished reading “How Rome Fell” by Adrian Goldsworthy. I am something of a history buff; I enjoy historical books. Goldsworthy wrote a great biography of Caesar Augustus, but this one is about how a world empire managed to fall in just 300 years.
Goldsworthy’s writings are very accessible. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy and understand it – it’s a great alternative to the much longer “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” One interesting thing he covers is how industrialized societies throughout history have seen themselves in the fall of the Roman Empire. And we’re not immune; there have been several times in American history where people thought that the doom of civilization was imminent and they were about to fall off the precipice. Reading history helps you escape from the prison of your own standpoint and view the problems we face today with a more-measured perspective.
What do you think of the way lawyers are portrayed on TV/in movies? Do you have any favorite fictional lawyers or pet peeves?
I think anybody who has a movie or a TV show written about their particular profession will have problems with the various representations. The purpose of TV and movies is not to create a feeling of accuracy and realism, but more of a background to the momentum and the plot. A lot of times you’ll see a courtroom scene where an evil litigator will stand up and yell a leading question and demand a yes or no answer on the spot. Of course, that has happened in real courtrooms but rarely are witnesses railroaded into blowing the whole case in such a dramatic fashion. Also, nobody ever accurately describes how much work is involved in creating a trial presentation or a briefing. Every so often you’ll see lawyers in the office late at night but it would be so incredibly boring to actually watch the fictional character pore over case law for hours a day. Lawyers also don’t spend their days running into each other in the lunchroom and suddenly have brilliant legal insights come flying out of their mouths. That would be nice though. As for pet peeves, I’m always amused when a person will slip a tape recorder or phone into their pocket and somehow get a crystal clear recording of exactly what was said in a conversation. That never happens. That being said, I do enjoy legal movies. One of my favorites is My Cousin Vinny, which is surprisingly realistic! Also Liar Liar which is not at all realistic but very entertaining.
What attracted you to appellate law and what has kept you there?
I enjoy using language, and I enjoy writing, which is a very large part of the appellate practice. This type of law relies heavily on research, communication, crafting arguments and organizing in the clearest way possible. I love to evaluate arguments and decide what I want to bring forward. I might have ten good arguments, but a few great ones, and I need to focus my energy on those to get the best result. Sometimes the law can be in your favor but the facts aren’t, so I have to craft a story where we can win on both a gut and legal level. Appellate law also really allows you to spend some time on your argument – I don’t have as much time to dig in at this level of detail with other types of litigation because of client or court timelines.
In appellate, that’s what it’s all about. Maybe that makes me a nerd but I’m okay with that.