King Hall Alum of the Month: Errol Dauis '11
Errol Dauis ’11 is an employment law attorney at Boutin Jones Inc. in Sacramento. He has been honored as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star for Employment and Labor. He has also been an adjunct lecturer at the UC Davis School of Law and president of La Raza Centro Legal’s board of directors. As a student, Errol was Editor in Chief of the UC Davis Law Review.
You had an unusual path to law school. How did you end up at King Hall?
For much of my young life, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Law school was not on my radar. I dropped out of high school and worked various jobs. I had no direction.
Law school became a possibility because of one professor of philosophy I had the great fortune to study under at Cerritos College: Ana Torres-Bower. She was the reason I became a philosophy major. She was always very vocal about how well I was doing in class. She inspired me to explore what I was going to do with my life.
When I transferred to Cal State Long Beach, I continued to enjoy philosophy. My professors there were motivating and supportive. I started to think, “What’s the next thing?” I went to a career advisor who gave me the career sheet for philosophy students. It only listed two choices: I could be a philosophy professor or a lawyer.
I set my mind on law. It was completely serendipitous. There were no lawyers or professionals in my family. The thought had never occurred to me, growing up, that being a lawyer was even a possibility.
King Hall was not on my radar, but serendipity kicked in again. I went to a LSAC law school fair in San Francisco. I was in the line for Berkeley, but the line was so long that I bumped into the King Hall table behind me. No one was in the King Hall line, so I started talking to them.
It was one of the best unintentional conversations I’ve ever had. I asked what set King Hall apart from other law schools. One of the first things they told me was, “You can get to know everyone in your class.” They went on to tell me that King Hall was community-driven and smaller than other law schools, and that it had a supportive atmosphere. That intrigued me. I’m glad that was true.
Weren’t you a D.J. at one point?
I was a professional D.J. in the sense that I went to things and was paid. I worked parties, weddings, and the occasional nightclub during college. That was a fun part of college. It’s something I’m still fond of. I go out of my way to see D.J.s I like. It’s not something I could do on the side, because it requires a lot of time. I still have all my old vinyl records.
What drew you to employment law and to Boutin Jones?
Serendipity again. I was working in San Francisco, in private practice at a small firm. At the same time, I was on the board of La Raza Centro Legal. I was president of the board for a year and a half. I occasionally assisted the executive director with employment law issues and acted as a sounding board. I was volunteering, and I realized I enjoyed it. I thought, “People get paid to do this.”
Employment law was interesting to me because I’ve been working for a long time. I had my first job when I was thirteen. Law school was the first time I wasn’t working. Now I could use my legal brain to think through issues that happen in the employment context.
Employment lawyers are also highly in demand. As long as there are employers, there will be employment issues. It’s pervasive, and it’s highly transferable.
When I had a chance to move back to the Sacramento region, I only looked for work in employment law. For the last four years, I’ve practiced employment law exclusively. At first I was doing a lot of employment litigation. Then I became interested in “advise and counsel” work, in which lawyers help clients address issues ahead of time. That reduces the risk of litigation even starting.
Serendipity: Boutin Jones was hiring for that kind of position, and I knew King Hall alumni working there. Kim Lucia, the president of the King Hall alumni board, is now my boss. I was in the right place at the right time, finding my interests and finding people with connections to those interests. There was no way of anticipating it.
My first year of law school, there were a handful of people who knew exactly what they wanted to do. Not me. I did not know what my future would look like. I was learning that in real time.
You were Editor in Chief of the UC Davis Law Review. How did that affect your law school experience and your career?
It was probably one of the most valuable experiences in law school. I had never been in any leadership position prior to that. There were so many valuable aspects to it that I still utilize to this day. The thought of being EIC didn’t occur to me until my senior notes and comments editor Heather Bromfield told me I should consider it.
It was extremely valuable for my personal and professional development. I was responsible for something important and living with the challenges of running an organization. You can’t learn that in a classroom. And it was in a very safe space. I was confident that as I was developing my judgment skills, things would be okay.
The professional aspect to it resembles the practice of law. You work with fellow professionals, just as you do as a practicing attorney. I learned how to get the best out of people, to motivate them. I knew I had a supportive set of folks to help me through the process.
Wait, that was really your first leadership position?
In college, I had to work. I was not involved in a single club. I took the skills I developed as Law Review EIC to become a leader in other contexts.
I fell into the La Raza Centro Legal board. I was at an event, and I saw a wine and cheese platter in the other room. I asked what it was for, and they told me they were recruiting board members. They asked me if I was interested. I told them I was interested in the wine and cheese. Then they told me about it, and I agreed to be on the board. Later I became president.
I’m a bit more intentional about it these days. Now I’m on the Davis Food Co-op board. Being EIC gave me a taste of that type of service to an organization that mattered to me.
As a student, you were also involved in the King Hall Outreach Program and a founding board member of the Coalition for Diversity at King Hall. How have you continued that commitment to diversity in your professional life?
I currently serve on the Sacramento Bar Association Diversity Hiring and Retention Committee. We work to get diverse groups into law firms, which are historically not diverse places. We organize and run the Diversity Fellowship, which places first-year law students in fifteen to twenty law firms in Sacramento, ranging from smaller firms to international ones. It’s a way to get folks acquainted with practicing law.
I also go to a lot of events. Student groups often invite me. I always went to those lunches when I was a student. It’s nice to do it on this end. Various organizations in Sacramento also invite me, particularly the bar associations for various diversity groups. I have friends who are board members.
Showing up is important, to communicate my support and show my appreciation. In Sacramento, it’s easy to do that, because there are a lot of forums for showing appreciation and taking initiative. It’s a big part of the Sacramento region.
What is your favorite King Hall memory?
Collectively, the people at King Hall. That’s what keeps me involved. It was a unique community that brought out the best in me. I left a much different person. I had evolved in a good way. I met some of my best friends there. I met the person who would become my life partner. [Errol is married to UC Immigrant Legal Services Center Managing Attorney Rachel Ray ’11.] The community was really special. Eight years removed, the community continues to be there.
Also, Law Cappella. Third year, I was asked to do it. My one regret from law school is that I didn’t do it all three years. Rachel still sends me a Valentinegram every year. They sing to me over the phone.
What class at King Hall served you well in your career choice?
Legal Research and Writing with Professor Malagrino. Research and writing is the bulk of what you do as a lawyer. I liked Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Federal Tax with Professor McCormack. I didn’t take any employment law classes.
What brought you back to King Hall as an adjunct lecturer? How else have you stayed involved?
Serendipity! I was working out at the ARC, and I saw Chris Ide-Don, director of the Academic Success Program. I had just moved back. Chris said the lecturer for one of his classes had left and asked if I would be interested. I had never taught before, but it was something I wanted to do. I had enjoyed being a tutor at King Hall.
I enjoyed being back at King Hall and being on that side of the podium. It was a writing course, so I was able to instill the importance of good writing in 3Ls on their way out. I still get to see my former students, now attorneys.
I accept invitations to student group panels as often as I can. I always show up for the admitted students program. I appreciate that. It’s exciting to talk to prospective students about things that were valuable to me at that point in my life and to tell them what to expect. I just corresponded with a student I met at that program.
I go to alumni events. On my first trip to New York City, in 2014, serendipitously King Hall had an event for New York City alumni the week I was there. When I’m in Los Angeles, I go to alumni events there. Also, I work at a firm founded by a King Hall alumnus [Stephen Boutin ’72], and there are a number of King Hall grads in our office.
Do you have any advice for current law students?
Be open to the world of possibilities. If you’re someone who knows what you want and has a law school path, great. If you’re like me, be open to things you might not even have considered. I had a mindset of being open to opportunities, and I found things I wouldn’t have been able to consider myself. It was not intentional, but opportunities grew into something bigger than I ever imagined. You don’t have to know how it will pan out if something draws you in. Explore what’s valuable to you. It may not fit with your conception of how things are supposed to be or how they should be. It may lead you to something you didn’t know existed. Serendipity.