Name: Brett A. Stroud
Occupation/Business: Water law and special districts attorney at Young Wooldridge, LLP
Hometown: Hesperia, Calif.
If you aren’t from here, why did you move to Bakersfield? I moved to Bakersfield from the South Bay (lived in Long Beach, worked in Manhattan Beach) in 2018 to join Young Wooldridge and transition from real estate law to water law.
Tell us how you got into your field. When I went to law school, a family friend who was a water district manager suggested I look into water law, and I always kept that in mind as an option. After a couple of years in business and real estate litigation, I got the opportunity to make the transition and jumped at it.
What is your "why?" (Why do you get out of bed every morning and do what you do?) Abraham Lincoln, when he was a lawyer, said, “As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.” As much as I enjoy litigating disputes and arguing legal principles, the thing that gives me the most joy in my professional life is when I can help my client resolve a dispute in a way that leaves all parties better off and no remaining hostility between them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? One of my first mentors as an attorney told me something like this: No client or case is worth your credibility. If you don’t think an argument is good, or at least legitimate, don’t make it. If you stick to that, your opinion will carry weight with people.
What is the biggest challenge in the marketplace/business that you’ve overcome? When I became a lawyer, there was a shortage of jobs in the profession. I had to find work in fields of law I never meant to practice, but I was able to collect the skills and background that got me into my current position in water.
What is your proudest achievement of your career thus far? I have won a few litigation victories I am pretty proud of. I handled an appeal in a pretty significant defamation case. (My client was falsely accused of cheating with, and buying drugs for, her movie-star ex-boyfriend, and I proved she wasn’t a public figure and could sue for defamation.) I have also been heavily involved in a recent victory by North Kern Water Storage District against the city of Bakersfield.
What’s next for you in your career? I am becoming more heavily involved in major water rights proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board, including proceedings related to the Kern River, the Fresno River, the Kings River and the Santa Ynez River.
What advice would you give to other young professionals and entrepreneurs in Bakersfield? Bakersfield is a friendly city. Take time to get out to community events and get to know people, especially people in your profession or industry. But don’t “network.” Just meet people, and try to make friends. Sure, there are professional benefits to that, but making friends is also a key part of living a good life.
How do you hope to help improve Bakersfield, or bring to the community overall? In addition to the work I do for my clients, I am very involved in my church and am helping to start a private, classical, Christian school.
Social media contact information: Young Wooldridge, LLP
What is one thing you wish you would have known before starting your career? This is for lawyers in particular. I wish I knew from the start how important it is to have non-lawyer friends. We tend to share a lot of shortcomings endemic to our profession, and being around people from other walks of life is good for your soul.