Les Hausrath is a partner at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean where his practice focuses on eminent domain issues, real estate, and land use disputes. He is also a long-time supporter of VLSC, donating through our annual Holiday campaign and to our silent auction.
We asked Les to tell us a little bit about himself and why he gives to VLSC.
1. You are a long-time supporter of VLSC, what inspires you to give? My first job as an attorney was with the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County.
I went to law school with the intention of going into public service law of some kind, so that was the job that I really wanted. My experience there demonstrated the great need for legal services for low-income and under-represented groups and communities of all types and I continue to see that need. Supporting VLSC is a natural for me. I think it is a tremendous organization that is clearly worthy of support.
2. Most of your legal career has been in Alameda County and you are very involved with various projects in the Oakland, please tell us more about your practice.
After leaving Legal Aid, I worked briefly in San Francisco and then joined Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean in 1981. I love the firm, particularly the people (lawyers and staff) who choose to work here and also appreciate the fact that the firm supports its attorneys in pro bono, community, public service, bar association, and other activities. My practice primarily involves land use, complex property issues (such as easement, boundary, quiet title) and public law. A good part of my practice is for public entities, and I work with them on acquisition and land use matters.
I have always had a passion for architecture, historic preservation, and housing, and my interests outside of my law practice have pretty much paralleled my law practice: Board member and President of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, Member and Chair of the Oakland Landmarks Preservation Board, member and Chair of the Oakland Planning Commission, member of the Oakland General Plan Congress. My most recent activity was a Board Member and Board Chair of Rebuilding Together Oakland, a non-profit organization which rehabs the houses of low-income seniors and disabled residents of Oakland. It is a great organization which provides very direct support to the community. So you can see the thematic intertwining of my legal and non-legal interests, really all rooted in issues of housing, real property, land use, and community betterment.
3. If you weren’t an attorney, what career would you choose?
Had I chosen a different career path originally, I likely would have gone into City planning, with an emphasis on land use and historic preservation. I think I would have been happy with such a career. A more bold move might be to become a chef. I love to cook and cooking brings out my creative side.
4. What do you want to share with others about the impact of pro bono work in our community?
Pro bono work in our community provides a life-line to people who otherwise have nowhere else to turn. Our legal system is ridiculously complicated, cumbersome and expensive – way beyond the means of the average person, much less lower income people or those suffering from disabilities and discrimination. So pro bono legal work is essential, even crucial to a large part of our community, and I absolutely applaud lawyers who actually do pro bono work as well as those who support organizations oriented to such causes. It’s somewhat of a cliché, I suppose, but I firmly believe in the concept of “giving back” and I encourage everyone to support organizations like VLSC in any way they can.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of the VLSC Newsletter.