Rick Cunningham knew he wanted to help people when he studied psychology in college.
Little did the Kansas City native know that family circumstances would prompt an alternative career with the same purpose.
Cunningham handles cases dealing with probate, taxes, businesses and estate planning with Roland Law Firm in Las Vegas.
“I was going to become a psychologist,” Cunningham said. “But I realized with the law I could still help people. I was one of those altruistic types who thought I could still do things to help people. I was very idealistic when I went to law school.”
What prompted the career change?
My grandparents started having some health problems when I was still going to school. I took them to their accountant and attorney to help them. Their health problems got worse, and I was named their power of attorney. One of my uncles after my grandmother died decided he knew what was best, and I ended up having to go to an attorney for help. The attorney said why don’t I craft a letter, and he’ll edit it. I drafted a letter, and he looked at it and made two changes. He said this was very well-written and have you ever thought about being an attorney. It said what their wishes were, and I gave it to my uncle and he was very impressed. He asked if I thought about being an attorney.
Where did that lead?
I became a lawyer because of that. That pushed me into probate and trusts to ensure that people’s wishes were followed. It’s important. If my grandparents hadn’t had their documents very well done, it could have been a disaster in a family situation. It helped me because I was dealing with their taxes, and it led me to get my masters in law and tax at the University of Washington.
What type of cases do you handle?
I set up estate planning for people. I have business clients where I am doing estate planning and business transactions for them or setting up partnerships or LLCs. I have some contested probates where mom and dad didn’t do a good job of saying who (the money) was going to.
How does your psychology background help?
It helps me with probate cases. Usually, there are still emotional issues, and it helps just to be understanding. I spend a little more time listening than others.
What do you do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time with my future stepdaughters and fiancée. I walk my dog in the park. I’m a boring family guy.
What kind of outdoor activities do you participate in?
We go bike riding and hiking on the weekends. I love going to Red Rock. I try to be outside, especially this time of year when it’s not too hot. I’ve become much more active in the last year, and it’s helped me lose weight. We hike about four to five miles and bike 10 to 15 miles. We have done Railroad Pass going through the tunnels.
What do you like to read?
I like history books. The last book was “April 1865.” It was about the month of April right after Lincoln’s assassination.
What do you like to watch on television?
My fiancée and I watch “Impractical Jokers” on Tru TV.
No law shows?
I used to like” Boston Legal.” It was so over the top. It was kind of funny. I still like watching “Law & Order.” I know sometimes on the jury side it’s not as real as it could be.
Where do you like to hang out?
For a long time, it was the Downtown Cocktail Room when I was working downtown. Now, I like Herbs & Rye on Sahara Avenue. It’s a cool restaurant and bar. Table 57 in Henderson is nice.