Be Thankful. Living in the United States is a privilege denied to many, and one that opens us up to unlimited possibilities. It truly is the land of opportunity. For this, those of us lucky enough to call this wonderful country home should be ever thankful for the opportunity to partake in a system that affords success to any person willing to work hard enough for it. America has given me the kind of family and success I once could only dream of . That’s why it’s called the American Dream.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynden Renwick, Esq.
Lynden Renwick has been every kind of attorney there is. He has practiced as a cross-border corporate attorney for one of the world’s largest global law firms, a commercial litigator for a multi-office practice, and general counsel for a U.S. Defense Contractor. An attorney in both Australia and the United States, Lynden has represented some of the largest organizations in the world — including Fortune 100 companies.
An award-winning executive, Lynden was named one of Maryland’s ‘Very Important Professionals’ in 2018 for his leadership of a multi-million-dollar, woman-owned company. In 2020, Vanguard Law Magazine named him one of America’s leading authorities on global data security laws. His emotionally-confronting novel, ‘A PART OF YOU’ boasts a +4-star rating on goodreads.com, and he is an intermediate-level combatant trained in the martial art of Jeet Kune Do.
In September 2020, Lynden founded Out-House Attorneys, LLC., the first innovation in legal service in decades. As Founding Partner and CEO, his mission is to deliver affordable and on-demand access to senior legal executives. Out-House Attorneys is shaking up the legal services industry by replacing the traditional ‘In-House Attorney’ and ‘General Counsel’ with a new kind of attorney: the ‘Out-House’ Attorney.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in the equivalent of ‘section 8’ government housing in Australia as the middle of five children. Many of our neighbors were drug dealers and/or users, and the local park was unsafe due to a prevalence of used needles lying around. My mother was obsessed with America — so much so that all five of us children were named after something American (my namesake is President Lyndon Johnson). All throughout my childhood, my mother would tell us, “In America, anyone can go as far as they’re willing to work.” By the time I turned 30, I had moved to the United States, graduated law school at the top of my class, become an executive for a woman-owned U.S. defense contractor earning a generous six-figure salary, been recognized as an industry leader and named one of Maryland’s “40 Very Important Professionals Under 40,” and published a novel. At 31, I quit that well-paying job to start my own law firm, ‘Out-House Attorneys, LLC.’
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
Before I moved to the United States, I was an attorney in Sydney, Australia. Because laws and licensing requirements vary by state (let alone by country), I never thought I would leave Sydney. So, moving to America was never a part of my life plan. In 2013, I was at the top of my game. I was a senior lawyer at a firm that I loved, I had finally broken free of the poverty trap, and I’d just bought a block of land and received county approval to build a house I’d designed. One night at a backyard barbecue, something I didn’t expect happened — I met my wife, Katrina. Katrina was an American woman visiting Australia on a temporary six-month visa. We dated until her visa expired, and then continued a long distance relationship for 9 months. When it became clear that it would be easier for me to move to the United States than for her to move to Australia, I resigned from my legal practice, sold my land, left my family, and jumped on a plane.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
Unfortunately for me, law is not a mobile profession. Unlike anatomy and math, which are the same the world over, different jurisdictions have entirely different laws. This meant that my legal studies and degrees counted for naught in America. In order for me to become an attorney in the United States, I needed to go back to college to complete a Masters degree, and then pass the Maryland Bar Exam. Fortunately, the University of Baltimore offers an accelerated LL.M. program for foreign attorneys. Completing this accelerated program would have been difficult enough on its own, but as my visa was tied to my full-time employment, I once again had to complete full-time work AND full-time study. I encountered the same requirement when it was time to study for the Bar Exam. Thankfully, my wife and her family supported me every step of the way, and I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.18 GPA, and passed the Bar Exam on my first attempt.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
My wife. Transitioning to a new country is difficult under any circumstances. There’s a million reminders every day that you’re not home — the sun sets with different colors, familiar constellations disappear from the night sky, the morning air doesn’t smell the way a lifetime has taught you it should, and you sound different to everyone else every time you speak. It’s hard. I found it particularly difficult as I was very close with my parents and three brothers back home, and I moved just before Christmas. My wife was supportive in every way you could imagine. She spent her evenings teaching me to drive on the right side of the road, literally (Australia drives on the left). She spent her weekends taking me to the mall to buy “real” winter clothes, and she introduced me to her friends and their husbands so I wouldn’t feel so alone. She was (and still is) amazing. That support continued into long days of work followed by long nights of study for college and the bar exam. My life in the United States is amazing, and frankly, it’s all because of her.
So how are things going today?
My life in the United States is amazing! In a little more than 5 years in the United States, I graduated from college, passed the Maryland Bar Exam and became an attorney, wrote and published a novel, taught myself how to invest in the stock market, got married, welcomed a son, bought and sold a house, and started my own company. My mother was right! America truly is the place where a person can go as far as they’re willing to work.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try to complete at least 80 hours of pro bono work for low-income clients and voiceless victims each year. A few years ago I represented a beautiful Great Dane named Rhonda against a series of actions brought by an adjacent neighbor. I believe that many of their allegations were fabricated, and their goal was to have Rhonda removed from her family or put down. We were fortunate to have many of the allegations disproved during cross-examination of the neighbor, and Rhonda lived out the rest of her life in peace with her family.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. immigration system is, in my experience, incredibly fair and well run. With a single exception, I have managed to apply for and process my visas, renewals, green card, and administrative filings without expert assistance. The forms are well designed, and the information packets that come with each filing are comprehensive and self explanatory. The only improvement I would suggest is to move all filing processes online, and away from paper filings. I say this because there have been times where I have needed to complete multiple processes simultaneously, but each was addressed with separate and individual filings. An example of this is when I needed to update my address, update my wife’s address, and file to remove the 2-year limitation on my green card. This required 5 different forms, 2 separate payment authorizations, 3 envelopes, and 1 trip to the post office. All of this could be consolidated and streamlined if all forms and submissions were filed and tracked through a single online portal. Once built, I believe that this would also reduce processing times and the operating costs of the USCIS.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Read to Learn. I cannot stress this advice enough. Although traditional colleges offer a curated curriculum and a tutor, the heart of college education is self-directed, adult education. Most of what you learn comes from textbooks and peer discussion. The internet and online libraries now offer unlimited access to freely-available information. This means most people literally have the collective knowledge of all of human history in the palm of their hands. Professionals from every industry have loaded their expert advice into YouTube videos, online articles, and blogs. Online forums for peer discussion abound. Given enough time and dedication, you can use the internet to teach yourself almost anything. For my own part, I used the internet to teach myself how to invest in the stock market, and how to self-publish a novel. These efforts have allowed me to develop an investment portfolio that yields multiple streams of passive income. In 2018 I published ‘A Part of You’ — a novel available on Amazon in paperback and ebook. Sadly, most people just use the internet solely for news, social media, and memes. It’s an absolute waste of an incredible resource. Don’t follow the masses! If you want to learn something — investing, how to do your own taxes, quantum physics, (literally anything!) — open up a browser and start reading. Your mandatory years at school weren’t just about learning to read — they taught you to read to learn!
2. Invest. Slightly related to the preceding tip, the American Dream requires investing — and not just financial investment. Of course, financial investing is important because inflation outpaces the interest rates on cash/money market savings accounts; so the buying power and value of your cash declines every day. However, I’m also talking about time investment. The American Dream requires you to devote yourself to something over a longer term. This can mean investing in yourself (learning and developing some marketable skill or talent), investing in an ideal (something to believe in), and/or investing in others (building and maintaining meaningful relationships). Investing in yourself will ensure that you remain valuable in an ever-changing labor market. Investing in an ideal maintains your perspective as your success grows. Investing in others ensures that you have a community with whom you can share your success, and someone to call when you inevitably need help.
3. Build a Network. One of the most valuable things I left behind when I moved from Australia to the United States was a network that took two decades to build. A good network can’t be bought, faked, or built overnight. It takes time to meet new people, build relationships, and develop trust. A good network is also valuable because no one person can meet every need or answer every question. As an attorney, it’s impossible for me to know every rule, case, and statute, in every practice area, in every jurisdiction. The law is simply too complex and too large for one person. Fortunately, since arriving in the United States I have forged many friendships and partnerships with a number of incredible attorneys and professionals that I can call when I or a client need the help or expertise I’m unable to provide myself.
4. Adapt and Grow. One of my mentors once told me that growth is like going up the ‘down’ escalator — if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. This axiom applies to the pursuit of your goals and the growth of your business. The world changes daily. The education of every generation becomes increasingly sophisticated, technology introduces new solutions to old problems, and industry disruptions are inevitable. Examples of this abound. The Spartans dominated ancient Greece with their slanted phalanx battle formation until their neighbors identified the formation’s weakness. The Spartans continued to use the phalanx even when it was no longer effective, and it led to their demise. The same thing happened to retail giants when they failed to adapt to Amazon. We’re now seeing it happen again to the businesses unable or unwilling to adapt to a post-COVID marketplace. The bottom line is that if you’re unwilling to constantly adapt and grow, it’s only a matter of time before you’re rendered obsolete by those that do.
5. Be Thankful. Living in the United States is a privilege denied to many, and one that opens us up to unlimited possibilities. It truly is the land of opportunity. For this, those of us lucky enough to call this wonderful country home should be ever thankful for the opportunity to partake in a system that affords success to any person willing to work hard enough for it. America has given me the kind of family and success I once could only dream of . That’s why it’s called the American Dream.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
1. Embracing Remote Work. Although there was a slow drift toward flexible ‘work from home’ arrangements pre-COVID, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work across a variety of industries. This will have wonderful benefits beyond the reduction of commuting hours. For one, professionals will no longer be forced to find work that is close to home, and businesses will not be restricted to a labor pool based on physical proximity to the office. This will dramatically expand resource opportunities for both workers and business owners, and permit workers to move to locations that fit their lifestyle — not their office address. I expect that the remote work phenomenon will evolve from ‘work from home’ to ‘work from anywhere’, and people’s overall happiness will increase as their worlds expand far beyond their office zip code.
2. Increasing multiculturalism. Australia is extraordinarily multicultural. This multiculturalism normalizes exposure to different cultures, and creates diversity of thought. Constant exposure to different cultures fosters greater understanding of cultural differences and nuances. Exposure to diversity of thought allows people to think differently, and helps to offset the one-track ‘group-think’ I believe is developed in institutionalized education. The United States is quickly becoming similarly multicultural. I am hopeful that the present promotion of diversity focused on race and gender will create the kind of diversity of thought that yields better results than homogeneous communities, and evolves to include a focus on culture; which shares a close nexus to these intrinsic traits and which improves understanding thereof.
3. My son. My wife and I welcomed our first child in February 2020. Watching him learn, grow, and explore the world with unbridled curiosity and joy fills me with hope for the possibilities of our future.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again — Elon Musk. Elon Musk is single handedly and intentionally changing the world. I’d love to speak with him over a meal just to try to understand the way he looks at the world.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
There are a variety of ways. Readers can follow Out-House Attorneys and receive regular legal and business updates through:
- Website: https://www.outhouseattorneys.com/
- Blog: https://www.outhouseattorneys.com/news
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/out-house-attorneys
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OutHouseAttorneys
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Out_HouseLaw
Readers can connect with me directly on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndenrenwick/
They can also follow me and my novels at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18613255.Lynden_Renwick
I’d genuinely love to hear from you, so please reach out if you have any questions or would like to talk about the work we’re doing with Out-House Attorneys!!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!