Brittany Dietz loves a high-stake situation. But that passion didn’t start in the courtroom or in a corporation. It started on the diamond and in a sport that made the former Division 1 athlete the lawyer she is today.
“I played softball since I was ten years old, and it taught me dedication, hard work, and attention to detail,” she reflects. “As a pitcher, I would watch the batters as early as when they were in the on-deck box, whether they had an opened or closed stance, if they’re opening up their hips too early, or dropping their shoulders. All those little nuances made the difference in how you’re going to approach pitching.”
Dietz continues, “That translates nicely to the legal field where no detail is too small as we deal with the nuances of law and facts. In both realms, you just have to make decisions, stand by them, and go 100 percent all of the time.”
Today, as the director and senior legal counsel of litigation at Samsung Electronics America Inc., Dietz often feels like she’s back on the pitcher’s mound as she navigates rapid technological changes and laws.
“You’re constantly anticipating and preparing for what the new trend is,” she says. “That environment keeps you on your toes and forces you to adjust.”
Dietz has always had a competitive spirit. In her formative years, she’d often look up local ordinances to help negotiate with her parents on why her curfew should be extended. Those times sparked an interest in law and debate that continued throughout high school and her undergraduate studies.
When Dietz got to law school, she was leaning toward being a prosecutor until she took a patent course with an engaging professor that changed the trajectory of her career.
“I loved the course; I loved the professor. It was a lot of fun and hands on,” she recalls. “I went on to take an advanced trial-ad course based in IP. It was a blast—I spent my spring break in the federal courthouse in Chicago doing mock trials and cross examinations, and I loved every single minute of it.”
After receiving her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law, Dietz started her career as an associate attorney at Lathrop & Gage. There, she represented clients in states and federal courts across the country, litigating disputes on matters pertaining to products liability, breach of contract, shareholder derivative disputes, employment discrimination, and more. She also got her hands on all aspects of the litigation process from initial case evaluation to trial and appeal.
From there, she went on to work at Kelley Drye & Warren and Molzahn, Reed & Rouse, both of which provided her with opportunities in general commercial litigation, patent infringement, product liability, insurance coverage, and insurance defense.
As Dietz reflects on her years rising the ranks as an early career attorney, she says that she was quick to raise her hand and to “take on every single task.” “Nothing was too small for me to handle—even making copies and fixing jams in the copy machine,” she says. “I dove into everything and tried to teach myself a lot of the procedural nuances and things they don’t teach you in law school.”
Though she spent much of those early years saying yes to various tasks and projects, she also had to learn how to say no. “Whether it’s saying no because your plate is full and you’re at capacity or when you don’t trust something, it’s OK to stand your ground and disagree with it,” Dietz says.
In 2019, she came to Samsung in her first in-house role as litigation counsel focused on class action, commercial, antitrust, and general litigation work. She was drawn to the company because of the opportunity to expand on her love for teaching. Having spent her career mentoring kids with nonprofits, she wanted to have the same level of impact on a business.
“Being in-house, there are a lot of teaching moments and I really love that part of it,” Dietz says. “You’re teaching the business about the law. You’re making it all palatable to people who aren’t lawyers.”
The attorney’s advice for young attorneys who want to be successful is to not be afraid to take risks. “The greatest risk is not taking one,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to try, speak up and participate.”