Kaveh Kashef is a partner at Clark Hill PLC in Birmingham and the president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation. DBusiness Daily News interviewed Kashef regarding his non-profit work within the legal profession and changes in the industry during his more than 15 years as a practicing lawyer.
- DDN: What kind of law do you practice at Clark Hill and what is the firm like?
KK: “I’m a partner in the litigation group at Clark Hill’s Birmingham office, about 75 percent of my time is spent practicing in the field of litigation, where I represent clients from mostly small, privately-held businesses who get in all kind of disputes you can imagine, from construction, real estate, automotive industries, labor and employment, health care, and I find myself in court and depositions handling those types of matters. The other time I spend is basically providing my clients with a general array of counsel, as my partners, who cover a wide variety of legal fields, assist them. So in that 25 percent of my time, I find that I’m both managing and working directly with my partners and clients, and also providing clients general business advice, in terms of how they move forward.
- DDN: As president of the Oakland County Bar Foundation, tell us the mission of the organization?
“I’ve always been an active member of the Oakland County Bar Association, throughout my entire practice of more than 15 years, and through that organization, I learned of the Oakland County Bar Foundation, which is an independent, non-profit organization. I had participated in their fundraising events for many years before I was asked to be a part of their board of trustees six or seven years ago. Over the years, my role with the foundation has increased, and I’m now its president, and what really drives me to the foundation is its mission to provide access to funding and to fund grant requests to organizations and programs that are bringing law and law-related education to those who are underserved in the community. I believe there is a gap of access in the community, where there are those who don’t have the means to get fair and appropriate representation, and there is a gap in education, and we help fill that so young students get knowledge of the law and Constitution, and that’s what we seek to accomplish.
- DDN: Does the foundation have any upcoming changes?
“Over the years, we’ve been a very successful organization and we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for the last 40 years. Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen a large amount of growth in the support we get from our friends, sponsors, and benefactors, which expands the amount of grants we can give to the community. So I don’t want to be perceived as wanting to change something that’s working, but at the same time, we’re looking to expand who we are. We’re in the process of developing our own website, social media is a large component of all businesses, so we’re looking to increase our utilization of Facebook and Twitter to send our message and expand our fundraising outreach. We’re also in the process of expanding the organizations and individuals who are our sponsors beyond the traditional legal field, mostly law firms and lawyers, to all community stakeholders, like banks, restaurants, and grocery stores, all organizations who think it’s in their best interest to support an organization that is a gatekeeper of dollars that are being used to educate and support the community in the area of the law.”
- DDN: Why do you think increased access to legal services and education are important?
“I think that now more than ever; the law has become a part of people’s everyday lives. I think there was a time 25 years ago where people lived their lives and there wasn’t as much need for lawyers as there is today. The health care system is much more complicated today than it was before, the tax system is more complicated, people need assistance in estate planning, people have criminal legal issues that need to be addressed, we have veterans that are coming back from the various conflicts that our armed services have been engaged in, needing legal services of all kinds. I think the world, particularly the United States is more politicized in the area of law, so education needs to be increased, and the need for students to be educated in the law and the rights they have is extraordinarily important to create a well-educated base of citizens who will be able to contribute as they grow older.”
- DDN: Some people have misconceptions about the legal profession, have you noticed any trends or changes since you’ve been practicing?
“I’ve seen a lot of changes just in the more than 15 years I’ve been practicing. Obviously, there are more lawyers now than there were before, and there’s more technology as part of the law than ever before, and I think that a lot of the mystery of the law is gone through law on television and in movies, so clients are much more educated and smarter about the legal services they need and expectations they have of lawyers. Lawyers are so much more accessible now through email, cell phones, and texting, so it’s now truly a seven-day-a-week profession, as opposed to five days a week. I think because of the technological advancements and the state of the economy, it’s much more national and global than it ever was before. We have clients across the country and all around the world, as opposed to our own backyards. I think that because of this expansion of understanding of the law, there’s also more that’s expected of lawyers in the way that they practice, and there’s an expectation of a higher level of civility among lawyers, and between lawyers and judges and lawyers and their clients. If you have a bad experience with a lawyer, now it takes two seconds to create a blog writing about that experience, or to post something on Yelp, and that is something that I see as a positive that has come out of this technology increase, that we see today, hopefully the practice of law is being checked better as a result.”
The Oakland County Bar Foundation is hosting the Signature Event April 28, and the RSVP deadline is April 17. More information can be found here.