Greg Brower, a shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, joined the firm after his third stint with the U.S. Department of Justice. He splits his time between the firm’s offices in Nevada and Washington, D.C., and was recently named co-chair of its Government Investigations & White Collar Group.
What inspired you to become a lawyer?
Growing up in Las Vegas, I didn’t know any lawyers. I was the first person in my family to attend college, and as a freshman at UNLV, I got a job as a “runner” for a small downtown law firm and was exposed for the first time to what lawyers do. Later, after transferring to Cal-Berkeley, I did a summer internship in Washington, D.C., and that experience set me on a path to law school.
You’ve practiced law in both private and public spectrums. What are the similarities and differences between the two?
Public service has been a big part of my career as a lawyer. In many ways, there is no difference at all between representing the public and representing private clients. Both demand the same high level of competence, zealousness and loyalty to one’s client.
What is your involvement at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law?
My relationship with Boyd goes all the way back to when I was proud to support state funding for the new law school as a freshman member of the State Assembly in 1999. Later, I joined the Dean’s Council and also became an adjunct professor of law, teaching courses in national security law and trial advocacy. I have had the privilege of working with every one of the deans over the years, and it’s great to see how Boyd has become such a crucial part of Nevada’s legal community. I look forward to continuing with my involvement at Boyd now that I am back in Nevada.
What is your philosophy when it comes to representing clients?
In both civil and criminal matters, it is my goal to understand everything I possibly can about the dispute or about why the government has targeted my client. Once I am confident that I understand the problem, I see my job as one of problem solving. Sometimes the client is best served by litigating, through trial and even appeal. Other situations call for a settlement. And finally, overlaying all of that is the ethical duty all lawyers have to their clients to be zealous and loyal advocates on their behalf. I tend to take on my clients’ problems as my own and I thrive on being a passionate advocate on their behalf.
As a former Naval officer, what skills did you learn in the service that you use in your law practice?
I have drawn upon my Navy experience in virtually everything I have done professionally since serving on active duty more than 25 years ago. Leadership, management, how to deal with pressure, attention to detail, taking care of people, accepting responsibility, sharing credit … I could go on and on.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
The most basic advice that I have tried to live by professionally came from my father, who spent 40 years as an electrician before he retired. He believed that no matter what a person does for a living, they should strive to be the best at what they do. I have always admired that quality in others, no matter their occupation, and I have always tried to live by that philosophy.
How do you decompress after a long week?
I swim just about every morning. On the weekend, I love to just sit on my patio at home and read the news while listening to music or the birds in the neighborhood. I just need about an hour of that and I feel totally decompressed. Beyond that, long walks with my wife, golf when I have the time to play, and sports on TV are all very therapeutic.
If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?
Because it’s my hometown, I find it hard to be objective about it. Because the challenges are too complicated for this format, I’ll keep it simple for now—I would like to see more water in Lake Mead and the return of free valet parking on the Strip.
What is your dream job outside of your current field?
Part of me would love to be a high school teacher and coach, or a police officer, or a line prosecutor doing nothing but violent crime cases day in and day out—simple, straightforward kinds of jobs that have big impacts on real people each and every day.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I am an owner of the Green Bay Packers. (One of many.)
What advice do you have for aspiring litigators?
Volunteer for every type of case. Get as much courtroom experience as possible. Watch, take and defend as many depositions as possible. Only by doing it over and over can you get better at it. Seek out constructive criticism. Remember, it’s not whether you think you did well, it’s about what the judge and/or jury thinks about your performance. Find mentors and then watch and listen. Over-prepare for everything. Be unfailingly courteous to everyone, including opposing counsel and witnesses who are not your own, and especially to courtroom staff.