Q&A with Nicolas Guzmán
July 16, 2018 | Chicago, IL
Nicolas Guzmán is an attorney at Drinker Biddle & Reath who has served on the Erie Neighborhood House Board of Directors for the past 7 years. In addition to working with colleagues at Drinker Biddle to provide pro bono services, he is a former TEAM mentor and was recently elected to the role of board vice president.
How did you first get connected with Erie House?
Back in 2003 I joined the YOU department through the Summer Explorers program; the program involved leading a group of high school youth in personal development activities throughout the summer. I was in college at the time, so it was a kind of peer-to-peer mentoring program.
So your initial connection to Erie wasn’t through Drinker Biddle & Reath?
It wasn’t, actually. It just turned out that when I came to the firm, I learned they had represented Erie House for a very long time as pure coincidence. So I obviously gravitated toward working on Erie House matters at the firm, but I had a relationship to Erie House long before that.
Nicolas Guzmán was recently elected to the role of board vice president. He is a former TEAM mentor who has worked with Drinker Biddle & Reath for the past nine years. PHOTO COURTESY DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH
When did the opportunity to join the board of directors come about?
I believe I’ve been on the board for 7 years—it would have been about 2 years into being at the firm.
What was it about your initial experience or your ongoing experience that drew you toward Erie House?
I think the key was that my initial interaction with the YOU department was so positive. I saw myself in a lot of the youth that we serve, so it was very impactful for me to be able to work with them and to be able to give back. That opportunity has really led me and continued to motivate me to stay involved. With Erie House you really see the difference you can make in the community you serve.
"With Erie House you really see the difference you can make in the community you serve."
– Nicolas Guzmán, Erie House Board Vice President
How did you end up practicing law?
My professional interests were always related to politics and policy, so in college, law school was a natural choice in terms of understanding the law and understanding its impact. . Once in law school, I think private law firm practice was appealing to me because it’s an area that not a lot of Latinos are in, especially at large law firms. Law firm practice has been quite a challenge, but for me it has been a good one as it has allowed me to serve organizations like Erie House. There have certainly been several people that have opened the doors for me in the law firm practice realm. Just like with Erie House and everything else, service becomes a responsibility, you know? For every hand that was extended to me, I want to be able to reach back and pull someone else up. In terms of private practice and law, I am lucky to have a platform to provide service and be impactful with the ability to help others.
What do you do in your free time?
Right now what I like to do most is spend time with my girls. I have a 3-year-old and an almost-2-year-old, so they keep me very, very busy. So any moment I have when I’m not working I spend as much time as possible with them, playing, watching them grow, and trying to soak up as much quality time with them as possible. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very challenging as well.
Conversation edited for clarity and brevity.