Bret M. Hanna
Park City, Utah
5 Fast Facts:
ON THE WEEKENDS you’ll find me riding mountain bike trails in summer and traversing ski slopes in winter.
MY MOST EXHILARATING EXPERIENCE would have to been during a recent trip to Peru. In visiting Machu Picchu, we hiked for 2 hours to reach the ancient citadel at 7,972 feet above sea level—it was an indescribable event that was truly awe inspiring.
SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ME is that I really enjoy a good glass of wine. I prefer reds, but I’m always open to trying different varietals and vineyards—depending on what a local establishment has on hand, or what I find while traveling.
WHEN IT COMES TO SPORTS we prefer weekend activities like skiing or mountain biking. Most recently, we’ve bought kayaks and have been exploring some of the lakes and streams around the Park City area.
MY ADVICE TO YOUNG PROFESSIONALS is to be open-minded as to the path you pursue. While I immensely enjoy the work I do now, it’s not how I envisioned my career at the time I graduated from law school.
Can you tell us what initially drove you to become a trial lawyer?
BMH: I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer—going all the way back to the 8th grade—but, I’m not sure if I remember there being an actual catalyst. I know many people often follow a parent into law practice, but my father was actually an engineer. To my knowledge, no one else in my extended family is an attorney; a claim substantiated by the fact that I seem to be the first person my relatives call whenever they’re looking for free legal advice.
How long have you been practicing law? Have you always been in the Park City area?
BMH: An interesting fact about me is that I’m licensed in three states to practice law. Of course Utah where I now reside, but also Arizona and Michigan—which happens to be where I’m originally from, and I actually did defense work there for about 10 years after graduating from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1991. It was mostly insurance work, and at times it felt like I was just helping move money from the pockets of one company to another. I find the work I do now more enjoyable because I like helping people and doing good whenever possible.
What are some of the challenges you face day-to-day at your firm?
BMH: Well, I work in a conservative part of the U.S. that has a very prominent and pervasive culture. As someone who’s not native to the area, it’s taken some time to learn the nuances, but it has definitely been worth it. Many of the attorneys in the area are great people. Especially the plaintiffs’ bar, where a sense of camaraderie among all of us certainly exists; a knowledge that we’re all in this together.
Are you a fan of technology? How do you feel it has benefited your profession?
BMH: Technology isn’t something that can be ignored in today’s world; if you’re not keeping up with it, you’re being left behind. I think the biggest way it helps me as an attorney is that I’m always connected. Often, I can get more accomplished while out of the the office—thanks to the ability to work remotely and access documents via the cloud with just a laptop or iPad. While on a recent trip, my assistant made the comment that I was actually more responsive to requests even though I was out of the country on vacation.
Other than the law, what are you passionate about?
BMH: I enjoy being exposed to new ideas, new places, different cultures. Something that I satisfy through traveling, but also through reading. Obviously we need to read a lot of material in our chosen profession, but I also like to read a lot of fiction. I prefer paperbacks, and I’ll pick one up just about anywhere. I recently finished one that I found in a second hand bookstore while traveling in Peru—A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, a swedish tale about a curmudgeonly older man who seems at war with the modern world and his neighbors. It was a very interesting read that held a lot of life lessons.
In this era of information sharing, how has the Injury Board been of value to you?
BMH: The Injury Board is definitely a great resource, one I use as often as possible. I’ve actually been a member for over 10 years now, I even remember the first ROI I attended at the Tampa Convention Center. Nowadays, I’ve been more focused on attending the IB Summits. While I enjoy the information disseminated at the ROIs, I find the personal connections that develop through the Summits to be invaluable. The network is great for advice and referrals, but the camaraderie and relationships that come from close interaction with like-minded individuals—that’s definitely the more rewarding experience.