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Dara Goldsmith Talks Law and Las Vegas

We caught up with the very busy and very astute Dara Goldsmith ('90) and learned about her career success, what she loves about Las Vegas, and why she believes in Pepperdine's presence in her city.

Emily: You've said you wanted to be an attorney for as long as you can remember. How did you choose Pepperdine University School of Law?

Dara: I chose Pepperdine for a number of reasons. I grew up near the campus and had a familiarity with the school as I had friends who attended the university and worked on campus. At the time, Pepperdine had a strong curriculum in the area of taxation, an area that I was interested in pursuing. Also, I began law school at age 20 and wanted to stay close to home.

What was your experience like here?

Law school was a wonderful experience. Not to say that it was not challenging, but that it was challenging in a meaningful way. I truly believe that law school at Pepperdine made me a better person. I enjoyed the access to the faculty and their willingness to help each student develop into the best attorney that he or she could be. I also enjoyed the friendships that I established with my classmates.

Did those accessible faculty members help you prepare for you career?

Absolutely. Although I have fond memories of most of my professors, Professors Charles Nelson and Tony McDermott both helped shaped my legal career more than either of them will ever know.

Tell us a little about your career subsequent to law school.

After law school, I attended the University of Miami and received my Masters of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.). After graduating from the University of Miami (FL), I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, and worked as an associate for a law firm for five years. Las Vegas has been a wonderful place to practice law.

At what point did you form Goldsmith & Guymon?

In 1996, Marjorie Guymon and I established Goldsmith & Guymon. Shelley Krohn has since joined us a shareholder.

What do you like about your work?

I enjoy helping people resolve their problems. My practice includes business planning, probate, and estate planning. Usually the resolutions to the issues my clients are facing can be addressed rationally and they can move forward. I also handle litigation in the areas of guardianship and wills and trusts. The issues in those areas are more akin to puzzles and are more complex, but when balanced with the planning part of the practice provide a high level of personal satisfaction.

What's your advice to law students looking to be similarly successful?

Get involved in something that you enjoy where you can make a difference. When I moved to Las Vegas I wanted to get involved in the community. Since I was not from here, I thought that getting involved would help me both personally and professionally. I was right. By getting involved with the Clark County Bar Association I was able to meet attorneys, judges, and community leaders and establish contacts and connections with the community. In 2000, I was honored to serve as President of the Clark County Bar Association.

You've also served the Nevada State Bar extensively. Why do you stay involved?

I believe that I still have a lot to contribute to the State Bar of Nevada. I am active in the areas of Client Security Fund, Audit Committee, and Budget Committee. I am presently seeking my fourth and final term on the Board of Governors.

You've also been recognized for your philanthropy with the Nevada Women of Distinction Award. Tell us about your involvement in the Nevada Community Foundation.

Previously, I was the chairperson of the Nevada Community Foundation. I still serve on its board of directors. The Nevada Community Foundation works with all charities in the state of Nevada and views itself as a convener and facilitator of philanthropy.

Sounds like you're one busy woman. What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I take bar exams. I am admitted to practice law in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada.

No seriously, in my spare time I participate in triathlons, enjoy going to major league baseball games with my husband, Michael and sons, Andrew, 10, and Trevor, 7, (we are big Dodgers and Angels fans), and enjoy traveling (this year Michael and I are going to Greece and Turkey).

Speaking of spare time, you're hosting the Pepperdine Vegas Alumni reception on Saturday. What about the event is most exciting?

I am thrilled to be hosting the Pepperdine reception on June 2. Anything that can increase Pepperdine's presence in the Las Vegas area is good for both the University as well as Las Vegas. Although Nevada now has its own law school, it is important to cultivate jobs for law clerks and new associates in Southern Nevada. Also, since our Supreme Court is one of the most taxed courts in the county, mediation and alternative dispute resolution are very important to us in Nevada. I think that Nevada's need and Pepperdine's skill in the area is ripe for a wonderful relationship that needs to be further explored.

Thanks, Dara!