Under Oath: Fran Haas
July 8, 2021
Frances Haas is a Cedar Rapids-based shareholder in Nyemaster's Labor & Employment department. Fran's litigation practice includes cases related to harassment, discrimination, retaliation and other workplace issues. Learn more about Fran in this month's Under Oath attorney profile feature.
Q: Why did you decide to practice law?
FH: I decided to go to law school after touring the League of Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland. I was impressed by how much good could come of the law!
Q: What is your elevator pitch for the work that you do?
FH: I help my clients deal with difficult workplace issues. Sometimes that means going to court and defending a lawsuit. Sometimes it means advising a client on how to manage a tricky employee situation. Sometimes it means serving as an investigator to find out why an employee or customer is unhappy or concerned.
Q: You and Mary Funk co-authored The Iowa Lawyer that looks at the growing role attorneys are taking in conducting workplace investigations. Why are companies turning to attorneys to lead investigations in the workplace?
FH: I think it's a sign of the times. We're seeing more internal investigations because employees are really educated about their rights and are comfortable speaking up to make the workplace better for themselves and others.
Q: What do you find so fulfilling about conducting workplace investigations?
FH: I really like connecting with people. In an investigation, you frequently have to jump in and speak to a lot of individuals about matters that are pretty personal, delicate, or sometimes difficult. A workplace is defined by all the personalities of all its employees, and getting to know those personalities is usually the key to understanding what's going on.
Q: What's the one trend you want all your clients to be thinking about today?
FH: Young adults who are new to the workplace have really high expectations of their employers. They are more inclined to exercise their rights and make demands than the vast majority of our current workforce. The good thing is that we will know how our employees are feeling about the workplace. The challenge will be finding balance between their idealism and what is fair and reasonable.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned since becoming a lawyer?
FH: They call it practicing law for a reason. You need to do it over and over again and learn from your mistakes.
Q: What do you do for fun?
FH: I love exploring the world with my husband and kids. My kids are at an age where anything we do together is an adventure. Seeing the world through their eyes makes me feel so fortunate to be here.
Q: Where is your favorite vacation destination and why?
FH: Kauai! My husband and I honeymooned there fifteen years ago. It's a magical place.
Q: Where would you visit in a time machine and why?
FH: Probably the Jurassic era. My kids would be forever impressed if I could tell them that I saw a real-life dinosaur.
Q: What was your dream job as a kid? Is being a lawyer anything like it?
FH: I don't recall a dream job but I do recall dreaming of a job that was a bit easier than the farm labor I did (detasseling corn, walking beans, and power washing hog barns). The farm work was hard. I'm glad I had that experience because it makes me appreciate my current job so much. It's still a hard job, but easier than walking for hours in the hot sun with aching arms!