Donor Profile: Mark Tratos ’79

Donor Profile

Mark Tratos ’79

Chair, Law School Board of Visitors Vice Chair, Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees

Mark G. Tratos is the founding shareholder of the Las Vegas office of Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm, where he focuses on a variety of entertainment, intellectual property, and litigation matters. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

What brought you to Lewis & Clark Law School as a student?

I had already committed to the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, but a former associate dean on a recruiting trip convinced me to visit Lewis & Clark. I was taken by the place.

What do you recall about your time as a law student here?

I worked my tail off! I was Doug Newell’s research assistant for two years, was on Law Review, served as a justice for the Lewellen Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, and started a school newspaper, In Re, which I coedited.

But what was remarkable was the freedom to create new initiatives. If you had a good idea, were committed to make things better, and a faculty member was willing to work with you on it, then you were given a green light.

You obviously are very busy. Why is it important to you to give your time to the law school and to Lewis & Clark as a whole?

My ability to have a meaningful impact guides my decisions to invest my time and treasure.

So many issues and organizations deserve time and attention, but not many present an opportunity for you to make a direct and fairly immediate impact. Through scholarships, the Annual Fund, endowed chairs, and other options here, I can make a difference and change people’s lives. And they, in turn, can give to others.

What inspired your first gift to the law school?

When I was asked by Dean Huffman to get involved in the Board of Visitors, I had already committed to make an annual contribution.

Annual contributions are critical; they have a cumulative effect. Many donors giving small gifts are collectively more important than a single donor making one large gift, although major gifts set an example for others.

My contribution to the Doug Newell Scholarship was clearly a reflection of my deep appreciation, respect, and affection for my mentor, professor, and friend.

Most recently, I have given two annual student scholarships without being asked. I did so because we need to attract, keep, and sustain great students, which means we have to be able to give away more scholarship money.

Do you have a favorite quote that sums up your philosophy of life?

My overall philosophy is to do my best to leave the world a better place.

That started early for me, in 8th grade. I read a book that described how, during the Classical period, the sons of Athens would mark their entrance into civic life by taking an oath to leave Athens a better place than the one they were born into. It really struck me: these young people, by pledging to give back to their community, changed Greece and the course of Western civilization.

Amazing teachers and mentors like Doug Newell and so many others at Lewis & Clark have been instrumental in helping me become good at what I do. In turn, I have had remarkable, talented clients—and students, some who are now partners—who have changed the world. It creates a powerful magnifying effect.

What advice would you give current students?

I always encourage students to think beyond Portland and expand their career opportunities. They can have a more meaningful impact if they don’t limit themselves to one geographic location. We live in a time of global environmental concerns, of global economic interest and political movements. The students who will make the biggest difference will be those who seek opportunities around the world and work where they can bring about significant positive change.