Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Andrew H. Reiss
September 1, 2021
By: Andrew H. Reiss
If ever there was a peculiar year to start a new job, 2020 was it.
Andrew Reiss was just six weeks into his new position with Bond in the Naples office before the World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic and “everything went crazy,” he remembers.
Most of his new colleagues opted to work from home in those early days. Andrew chose instead to commute to the largely deserted office, where the nearest person sat some 100 yards away.
“It was definitely an interesting time to get started here,” Andrew says now. “But the firm was so well-prepared for it and made things so easy. I felt really fortunate.”
A native of St. Louis whose family relocated to Hollywood in southeast Florida when he was 6 or 7, Andrew now considers himself 100% Floridian. In case there was any doubt, his four years studying political science at the University of Pennsylvania clinched it.
“Four winters in Philadelphia was enough to convince me that Florida wasn’t so bad,” he says.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Andrew took the U.S. State Department’s test to become a Foreign Service officer, imagining a future in public service abroad. He did well on the test, but the service wasn’t particularly interested in 20-something diplomats and turned him down. So, he pivoted to a different sort of service: public education.
He was accepted into the Teach for America program, a branch of the AmeriCorps national service network, and was slated to begin teaching at a rural school in Louisiana. But instead he was offered a job teaching seventh-grade English at his old school in Fort Lauderdale. Opportunity and serendipity conspired to not only return him to the Sunshine State, but also place him in close proximity to a certain eighth-grade math teacher, a.k.a. his future wife.
“She was the best thing to come out of my teaching career,” Andrew says.
During Andrew’s three years as a teacher, he grew restless and soon tired of the repetition of covering the same lessons multiple times a day. Maybe a courtroom would suit him better than the classroom, he thought, and he enrolled at the University of Miami School of Law.
He began practicing in Naples in 1997 and never looked back. After more than 20 years at a small local firm, he decided to make the move to Bond.
“I was ready for a new challenge at this stage of my career,” he explains. “The opportunity to take over for the retiring Eric Vasquez presented that challenge and opened the door to work on developing the Naples litigation department. The management, structure and resources of Bond also appealed to me after so many years at a smaller local firm.”
Andrew says he gravitated toward litigation because he enjoys watching the law at work.
“I like the interaction in the courtroom, although that’s been hard over the last year with everything going remote,” he says. “I miss the in-person back and forth with judges, opposing counsel, parties. Hopefully we’ll be heading back in the other direction soon.”
In retrospect, Andrew says he believes his short-lived role as a teacher formed a bedrock of sorts for his legal career.
“I was ready for combat after standing up in front of 20 seventh-graders. I’m not sure which audience is tougher: middle-schoolers or a jury of adults.”
His newest challenge is serving as president of the Collier County Bar Association, a role he assumed earlier this summer. He looks forward to organizing events and programs to enhance members’ practices and, of course, socialize.
In their free time, Andrew and his wife – empty nesters whose 21-year-old son is a senior at the University of Denver – enjoy playing pickleball. He describes it as a mini-version of tennis played on a smaller court with larger paddles and a plastic ball.
If you’re in Naples, chances are you play.
“Naples is the pickleball capital of the world. I don’t know why,” Andrew says, chuckling. “The U.S. Open Pickleball Championships are held in Naples. It’s a big thing here.”