Ryan Kraft / Louis Goodman Podcast Transcript

Louis Goodman

Hello, and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer, where we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers, and what their experiences. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect.



He is currently a partner in a downtown Oakland civil litigation firm. He has litigated multiple civil cases through jury trial. He has had experience handling misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. He has a background in journalism, and has served with several organizations promoting civil rights. And he has volunteered to assist families of incarcerated individuals. Ryan Kraft, welcome to Love Thy Lawyer.



Ryan Kraft

Thanks for having me.



Louis Goodman

I’m very happy to talk to you on the podcast. We met in an interesting way in that I had a criminal case where there were substantial restitution claims being made by the victim in the case involving in automobile accident, and you represented the same client in the civil litigation as part of an insurance settlement. And I was, frankly, very impressed by the way you and your colleagues handled that case. And we ended up with a very good disposition all around. So I’m happy to talk to you a little less formally.



Ryan Kraft

So that was quite the interesting case, and difficult as well. But I do agree that the end resolution was good for our mutual client. That’s what matters most.



Louis Goodman

Where are you from originally?



Ryan Kraft

I was born in California, Southern California. But I grew up all my formative years in Chicago, not downtown suburbs, western suburbs, and I lived there until I was 16. And then I moved to Arizona.



Louis Goodman

What sort of practice do you have? We touched on it for a moment, but why don’t you tell us what kind of practice you have in your view?



Ryan Kraft

We are a civil litigation, insurance defense primarily. And so whatever people could be insured for with our insurance carrier clients, we might be representing them or defending them in litigation.



Louis Goodman

How big a firm is it?



Ryan Kraft

There are four partners and five associates.



Louis Goodman

And you’re one of the partners, is that correct?



Ryan Kraft

Yeah, that’s right. I’m one of the partners.



Louis Goodman

How long have you been with that firm?



Ryan Kraft

I started the firm in June of 2018.



Louis Goodman

Okay, so you said that you grew up mainly in the Chicago area, but then you move to Arizona, where’d you go high school?



Ryan Kraft

A school called Hinsdale South in Hinsdale, Illinois. And then I went to a second high school called Mountain Rage in Phoenix.



Louis Goodman

Well, those were sort of must have been different experiences coming from Chicago and then ending up in Arizona. Certainly the weather’s different.



Ryan Kraft

It was a shock. Very different cultures and climates. Yeah. I mean, it was difficult to leave high school as a sophomore, and leave all the friends I grew up with and move to new place and have to meet new people at that time. But then additionally, to just completely change climates. You know, that was strange, too. I played football during, you know, my years growing up and in high school. And, you know, football in Chicago is very different than football in Arizona, being Arizona is horribly hot. But over time, I really began to love Arizona. And the reason for that is simply that I love the sun. And because of that I want to stay on the West Coast after I graduated from law school and ended up here.



Louis Goodman

Well, after graduating from high school, where’d you go to college?



Ryan Kraft

University of Arizona.



Louis Goodman

How was that experience?



Ryan Kraft

I loved it. Most people don’t think college was a great time. The University of Arizona was a warm, pretty place to go to school. Again, sunny ride a bike around. I met a lot of good friends at the University of Arizona and I very much enjoyed my undergrad education. I was a Creative Writing Major and a Journalism Major. And I really liked both of those things. So undergrad really hit on all cylinders for me. I had a great time.



Louis Goodman

At some point you decided to go to law school. When did you first start thinking about being a lawyer, deciding you know, I really want to go to law school and want to be a lawyer?



Ryan Kraft

I was in middle undergrad. I was a Journalism Major at the time. And you know how to think about what would come after graduation, seem to be an option. And so I took the LSAT and kind of set that up, though I hadn’t fully decided, I did not fully decide to go to law school until I was a senior and in undergrad had already been accepted to schools, and I was still deciding whether to actually do it or not. So I decided to pursue it as an option to have a backup plan at the very least. And I ended up pulling the trigger shortly before I graduated.



Louis Goodman

I think one thing that people don’t realize is how written word driven the law really is. People think of lawyers and they think of, you know, courtroom drama, that sort of thing. And, you know, I mean, obviously, that’s part of it. But certainly law school is a matter of being able to communicate well in writing. And I would imagine that the Journalism background, you had really assisted you as far as that’s concerned.



Ryan Kraft

I don’t know about that. Really, for formal writing, different from writing journalism is kind of short punctual telling a story. And it’s organized in a way to where, you know, you expect people to stop reading after the first few paragraphs you say trade jam information to those Moore’s law is much more argument based and much more focused on practicalities and is extremely biased. I mean, if you’re presenting something to a Judge, obviously, it’s gonna be aimed at convincing them of your position, even if there are weaknesses. And so I think they, they are fundamentally different, at least in my opinion.



Louis Goodman

What did your friends and family say or think when you decided to be a lawyer and you told them that?







Ryan Kraft

Well I think my dad actually recommended it at one point. Not in any forceful way, but just kind of floated the idea like, hey Ryan, have you ever thought about law school? I was, you know, when I was early on and in my undergrad career, when it came time to decide to go I don’t think they questioned it at all. Probably made a lot of sense to them. I’ve always been a relatively headstrong, argumentative. So I think they got it, then it’s a higher degree of education. I thought, they thought it was appropriate.



Louis Goodman

When you got out of law school, what was your first legal job?



Ryan Kraft

I worked on my own.



Louis Goodman

How did you get from Tucson, Arizona, to Alameda County?



Ryan Kraft

Well, I guess it takes me back to, I have to go back in time to explain this process. I was in Cochise County working at interning at the Cochise County Attorney’s Office my one year and I decided to go visit New York City for the first time. I went to New York City and I visited a friend there. And I thought New York City was just the coolest place I’ve ever been. And that point, I decided I was going to live in a big city, I want to live in a place with good public transit, a place where I didn’t have to drive much. And I started to think of where that was going to be and certainly wasn’t gonna be Chicago and I landed on San Francisco. Thought San Francisco would be a good place to go. Now I was unable to lock down any sort of job while in law school over here in the Bay Area. And so I took the bar exam and packed on my car and just moved here, and then waited for my bar results to come in. And they came in and still don’t have a job. And I needed to start making money somehow. And then there was the Panel Defense Program and so I joined that. And then I happen to you know, meet attorneys here in there who I could help and associate with and different matters and who else helped me along, but primarily, I did misdemeanor criminal defense for about two and a half years.



Louis Goodman

How did you go from there to the firm that you’re up?



Ryan Kraft

Well, then I was notified of a position at a different to civil litigation firm and made a decision to close up shop and go work for a firm and I ended up being able to work with some excellent attorneys, notably David Hunter, who spent just hours upon hours teaching me and molding me into an attorney and you get great experience working in house insurance defense. It’s a great way to catch up to speed so to speak. And then it was time to move on from there and I came over my present firm.



Louis Goodman

What do you really like about practicing law? Obviously, you’re someone who has the wherewithal needed do lots of things. But you’ve decided to practice law and it sounds like you’re thriving at it.



Ryan Kraft

There are a lot of things I like about the law. But I think my favorite is when I have a case and the case involves another attorney who I’m on the same wavelength, whether that be a co defendant, an attorney, or a co counsel, or the plaintiff’s attorney. And the case is a problem. Every case is a problem. It’s got to be solved in some way, you know, they’re all different. They’re all unique problems, but they’re all problems like little puzzles, right?



Louis Goodman

People don’t in general come to lawyers, but their life is just going great people, or companies, or insurance companies, or plaintiffs or whatever. I mean, no matter what it is, when someone goes and seeks the advice of an attorney, it’s because there’s a problem.



Ryan Kraft

There’s a problem. And some attorneys make those problems worse, compound them with poor decisions, or greed or poor advice, or lack of competence, or lack of diligence, or inability to see that their client is not telling the truth. But other attorneys are the opposite. So I like when the other attorneys are on the same wavelength as me. And we, in a way, even though it’s an adversarial system, are kind of coordinating efforts to solve this problem together in a way that satisfies everyone. And it gives me a lot of hope and confidence that those things will continue to happen in my career, because, frankly, what we do is very difficult and stressful. So you need stuff like that, you need positive things.



Louis Goodman

Would you recommend the law to a young person seeking a career choice?



Ryan Kraft

Depends who they are. This stuff is difficult, hard. Being attorney is hard, and in so many different ways. Time management, communication, skill, reading comprehension, being able to, you know, kind of just be headstrong and present an argument, being able to recognize when you’re wrong and step back. You’re the person who has been chosen to guide this other person or people through this process. And so you got to be a leader, you got to be someone who is ready to do that at all times. You know, it’s kind of a roundabout way to just say, Man, you got to have a lot of, you got to have a lot of talents. And I think maybe the Paramount one is leadership skills on top of intelligence and integrity and all sorts of other things.



Louis Goodman

How is actually practicing either met or different from your expectations about it?





Ryan Kraft

That’s an interesting question. I suppose I had no expectations. When I first decided to become an intern and then law school, I don’t think really prepped me for what it was really going to be like the law school fine and asked me to come down on it teach us necessary skills, but not the social dynamics of the law. I have been surprised by the fall ability of us attorneys, I suppose we’re all just people, you know, just like anybody else and we make mistakes.



Louis Goodman

What do you think’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?



Ryan Kraft

I was in Cochises County, Bisbee, Arizona, working for the Cochises County Civil Attorney’s Office and the Civil Deputy Attorney there had won an appeal. And it came into my office and I said, Hey, come on, let’s go to the copper Queen and celebrate and we got a beer and he said, Hey, Ryan, I’ll make sure during your career to always take time to enjoy your successes. And I do that as much as I possibly can. Five succeed something or accomplish something and I’m satisfied with it. I take moment, I take any evening to relax, sit back, reflect and be pleased that I was able to do something very difficult. And then move on to the next but least take that moment and take a breath and recognize that what we do is hard and it’s cool when you succeed.



Louis Goodman

So what’s your family life like in the house and how has practicing law affected that?



Ryan Kraft

That’s just me and my wife and our cat. I would say that practicing law has affected it. In the sense that some days, a bad day of work a stressful day at work, and I probably come home, and I’m not the most enjoyable person to be around. But I can’t say that affected it much more beyond that.



Louis Goodman

Do you share those celebratory moments with your wife?



Ryan Kraft

At times, yeah, certainly.



Louis Goodman

What other things do you like to do besides practice law? You know, I mean, what do you do to clear your head?



Ryan Kraft

I got a couple hobbies. So I wouldn’t say like, they’re serious. I like playing chess and I like writing. I still write creatively, poetry, stuff like that. But for the most part, I ride my bike round. I really like riding my bike around in the sunshine, I just kind of float around the City of Oakland, maybe San Francisco and soak up the sun, and ride around at low speed and kind of just do what I want to do. You know, last five years or so the bike infrastructure has been greatly improved in Oakland.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, that’s for sure, isn’t it?



Ryan Kraft

Yeah. I mean, it’s constantly improving bike lanes everywhere. You could take bike lanes all the way up into Berkeley without ever breaking. Yeah, like biking over to the Treasure Island, or your reporting Island. I take Bart in San Francisco and they got a good bike infrastructure to now just you know, his bike around. Hey, there’s no these aren’t like 15 mile bike rides. You know, I’m not in spandex, you know, pounded out a ride all the way to Santa Rosa or something. These are like lazy rides for the most part. I like just floating around listening to music.



Louis Goodman

What sort of things keep you up at night?



Ryan Kraft

Work? You know, I mean, it’s the job is very stressful. It’s very stressful. Man, when I make mistake, even if it’s not terrible, you know? It can keep me up at night. Sometimes a bad interaction with the other side. You know, just where am my brain? It’s not so much nerves about the upcoming that keeps me up at night. Rather, thoughts of what has transpired but yeah, mistakes, especially mistakes. I’m pretty hard on myself about that. And it’s tough. It’s tough to make mistake.



Louis Goodman

Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that as attorneys, we take on responsibility for other people’s lives and we take on responsibilities for other people’s problems. You know, it’s not like we’re a surgeon and if we make a mistake, they’re gonna die. But if we make mistakes, it can really have an adverse effect on people’s lives.



Ryan Kraft

Definitely. And even if it doesn’t have an adverse effect on somebody’s life and usually it doesn’t we make mistakes all the time but yet the case resolution is no different than would have been otherwise it’s still a blow to the ego you know, it’s a blow to my own morale or expectations for myself. How did I let that happen? You know, how did I do that? How did I miss that? Yeah, it creates a self doubt I suppose and that’s what keeps me up. Eventually I’d get over it you know on to the next mistake you know, that sort of thing. You learn fromyou’re your mistakes.







Louis Goodman

Let’s say you and your wife came into some real money, a few billion dollars, $3/$4 billion. What if anything, would you do differently in your life?



Ryan Kraft

Well, I probably wouldn’t work anymore. I’d go hang out on a beach. Travel a lot. I would, I think, if I came into a billion dollars I would probably pursue my passions of you know writing, even if it’s just for myself. Spend my time doing that and hanging out with my wife, family and doing fun enjoyable things and sending the son more not work you know, eight to 10 hour days and travel. Yeah, definitely travel more. I am what I do with the billion dollars, I don’t know presumably donate it to lots of it. But hold on enough to where I no longer needed to worry about work or my family’s well being. Imagine that to happen. I probably get out of my apartment, get bigger place, maybe buy a place.



Louis Goodman

Have you had any interesting travel experiences?



Ryan Kraft

I’ve been places Yeah. I mean, I really , my favorite place is Berlin. I love Berlin. That’s my favorite city.



Louis Goodman

Why?



Ryan Kraft

Well, I really like electronic music. And that’s like the epicenter of the world for electronic music. Also, I liked the culture over there. And I had a really good time renting bikes and biking around. And there’s something about Berlin that just matched with my personality. It felt like I could live here, you know, this is kind of who I am. I also was fortunate, I mean, that that was a good trip, because we met a couple friends there and had some good times just, you know, kind of going out in Berlin, but a lot of cool restaurants, a lot of cool bars, a lot of great museums. I mean, it’s got it all. Vietnam was an interesting place. We’re also gone. Have in Spain traveled around the United States, playing and watching New Zealand. Yeah, Berlin, Berlin is my favorite.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say, someone gave you 60 seconds on the Superbowl, said you could put out any message that you wanted to an enormous number of people. What kind of message would you want to put out there?



Ryan Kraft

Believe in yourself? You are in control of what you do. And everyone should know that.





Louis Goodman

Let me ask you this one. Let’s say you had a magic wand, there was one thing in the world that you could change. What would that be?



Ryan Kraft

Well, we got all sorts of big scale problems, right. But I think if I had a magic wand, I go for it. I do some small scale, leave the big stuff for someone else. I would like to get rid of all the litter around here in Oakland. I would like people to stop leaving their trash. And I noticed that it has been normalized, and it’s just everywhere. And it’s not the same other places around the world. And I don’t think there’s a good excuse for us to just be leaving trash on the ground and making our otherwise pretty city kind of unsightly. So if I had a magic wand, I would waive it and everyone would then stop leaving trash on the ground and thinking that’s okay.



Louis Goodman

Ryan Kraft, thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. And it’s really been an interesting perspective.



Ryan Kraft

Thanks, Louis. I appreciate your time.



Louis Goodman

That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend. And subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information. Thanks as always, to my guests who share their wisdom. And to Joel Katz for music, Brian Matheson for technical support and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.



Ryan Kraft

Yeah, I don’t know about thriving but yeah, I’m doing it. I’m making a living out of it. That’s for sure.




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