Zach Dougherty Podcast Transcript

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Headshot of Attorney Zach Dougherty

Zach Dougherty Podcast Transcript

Zach Dougherty joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of The Digital Executive podcast.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Zach Dougherty. Zach Dougherty is an attorney at 3i Law, a full-service law firm in Colorado. His practice focuses on transactional corporate and real estate law. With a specialization in uncrewed aerial systems or drones on the corporate side, he works with clients on a broad range of transactional matters, including entity formation, employee ownership, and incentive compensation, construction, contract negotiations, and asset equity acquisitions.

Zach also has significant real estate experience and advises clients on real estate acquisitions and leasing. Both on the commercial and residential side. In addition to easement rights, title matters, and other property law issues.

Well, good afternoon, Zach. Welcome to the show!

Zach Dougherty: Thanks a lot for having me on Brian.

Brian Thomas: You bet. I appreciate you making the time. Haley at the great state of Colorado and Denver there again, traversing the globe today. But I’m just so excited. We get to sit down behind the mic, have a great conversation on obviously legal stuff, law and drones. So, let’s just dive right in. Zach, could you start by giving us an overview of your practice at 3i Law, particularly how you balance your expertise in both transactional, corporate and real estate law?

Zach Dougherty: Sure. Yeah. So, as you mentioned, I’m in the corporate transactional practice group at three. I, so with that, I work with companies of all sizes with starting startups, entrepreneurs, all the way through growth stage, midsize companies, and really every phase of their development. So. Starting at entity choice, formation questions, things like that.

And then a lot of contracting as far as handling service contracts all the way through eventually selling or acquiring other companies or closing up. So, there’s obviously a ton in between those two end points. And then real estate actually weaves in really closely with, with what I just described, because obviously most companies at some point in their development are going to be dealing with acquiring or selling real estate.

And that includes leasing. And so, I, I handle all that. I’ve got a bit of a development background, so that. Plays well into my work on the real estate side, and it also gives me some background with entrepreneurs. I mean, I know what it’s like to start a company because I’ve done that before, and I know it’s extremely difficult, but that’s, that’s really a part of my passion for, for working with these startups.

Brian Thomas: Thank you, Zach, for sharing that. I appreciate that. And I appreciate you supporting all the entrepreneurs. Obviously, this show is really focused on entrepreneurs and technology. So again, appreciate a little bit of the background there and Zach switching gears. What led you to specialize in uncrewed aerial systems?

They’re also known as UAS or drone law. And how has this field evolved since you started?

Zach Dougherty: Yeah, it’s, It was probably about seven years ago, Brian. And frankly, I’ve been an aviation nerd my entire life. And so even as a kid, you know, that’s all I wanted to learn about was airplanes. Going into law, it was always a goal of mine to integrate that into my practice somehow.

And what I mentioned before about my, my passion for entrepreneurship and startups, it seems like the entire drone industry, when I started getting involved, which was, you know, 2016, 2017. Was just right at the cusp of, of taking off, so to speak. And so that was a big part of it for me kind of watching this industry.

And it, frankly, still is at a very early stage of integration, you know, as far as the national airspace is concerned, but the changes have been huge. And I think that there are a lot of companies that we can point to that are. Not just are, are willing to try drones, but have really integrated them into their business models to the point where it’s a fundamental part of their operations.

And so I think it’s a really exciting time for the industry because we are getting some, some real world use cases for how drones are really changing a lot of different industries.

Brian Thomas: Thank you. And I appreciate that. I know that when you have a little bit of a passion for something as you do, In that space, you know, like you mentioned earlier as a kid that is that’s amazing.

And of course, you’ll apply that passion in the legal aspect of what you’re doing there at 3 eye law. So, I appreciate the share and Zach given the rapid development in drone technology. What are some of the biggest legal and regulatory challenges you face in this area?

Zach Dougherty: Yeah. And I mean, Brian, it’s a, it’s a great question.

And it, it’s the kind of thing that I could frankly talk about all day long, you know, all the considerations that someone operating a drone for their company needs to be considering on the federal side, there’s still some uncertainty with the FAA’s regulations moving forward. And as listeners may or may not know, they, commercial operators can get a license from the FAA.

So, it’s still very limited as far as how they can fly their drone, where they can fly their drone, when they can fly the drone. So, there is quite a bit of pressure I would say in Washington to push these regulations forward to kind of open up the operations. And really a lot of companies that are anticipating using this technology can’t yet scale it just because of the challenges on the regulatory side.

And you can go get waivers from the FAA and. Get authorizations for different types of operations. But again, it’s not streamlined enough right now. And then I just on top of that, you know, what I was just mentioning is the federal side. There’s also a challenge with state laws in this area or of. I mentioned that I, why I wanted to get into drone law is because it’s, you were right at the cusp of some major changes, I think, but along with that is a big challenge because the state laws as far as trespassing, invasion of privacy, nuisance.

They’re not really settled on, on how those are going to apply to uncrewed aircraft. We’ve, we’ve, we’ve settled it pretty well with, with how to handle helicopters and airplanes the way that we think about them. But states and even cities and counties and municipalities are wrestling with this question right now.

And I think from the industry perspective, one of the big challenges going forward is how to make sure all of these. Local regulations laws are uniform so that eventually when, when companies are using drones you know, for deliveries across state lines, for example, they’re not dealing with a completely unmanageable patchwork of drone regulations as they fly around.

So, we need it to be consistent and, and we need it on the federal side to be more lenient too, to allow these operations to grow.

Brian Thomas: Thank you and I, I agree with you on the federal side, and I’ve talked to many folks here about sometimes the federal side is, seems to be lagging believe it or not after the states.

And so, I appreciate you sharing some of that and jumping in. We certainly have a whole plethora of issues to deal with, including privacy as, you know, and then you’ve got Amazon drone delivery. You hear that’s coming. So, there’s a lot going on, but I appreciate you unpacking all that for us today. And Zach, the last question here, what, where do you see the intersection of drone law and real estate heading in the future?

And how do you plan to adapt your practice to these changes?

Zach Dougherty: Yeah, I, I think that’s another great question because that actually, it plays in really well with, with my background on the development side drones and what I just mentioned earlier, the fact that drones are going to be flying over private property all the time implicates a lot of property law questions as far as.

Airspace and your rights to your airspace. And that’s a probably a topic for another podcast, because again, I could go down the rabbit hole talking about the legal implications of flying over the top of someone land, but needless to say, it’s something that’s going to have to get figured out because we, we know all the time that, for example, an airliner flies 30, 000 feet over your house.

That’s not trespassing, and we’ve established that through case law over decades, but with that so called aircraft is actually a tiny drone and it’s 500 feet off the ground instead of 30, 000. How much does that change things? So, I think there, there are answers. There are solutions to this. This is not one of these questions that I think is going to hamper the industry forever, but it’s going to take a lot of work and I think it’s going to take a lot of input from a lot of different shareholders, including property owners.

And I think that’s, that’s the other way that I approached this question is a lot of my clients are not using drones. They are concerned about their property rights including keeping their property safe making sure that. Drones with cameras aren’t monitoring or surveilling, you know, what’s inside their corporate boundaries, so to speak.

So, there’s a lot that has to get worked out. And I think state law, it’s going to be a lot of case law that’s going to come down in the next 5 to 10 years of figuring out where these lines are for where drones can and can’t fly. And at the end of the day. The, the drone industry, it’s absolutely mandatory that we get public acceptance of this technology.

And so, I think as long as there are concerns about drones invading your privacy or being a nuisance and being too loud that’s going to really hamper the industry. And so, I think we have to get public feedback on all of this to get everyone at a point where, where we’re comfortable with how this technology looks going forward.

Brian Thomas: Absolutely. And I appreciate you touching on some of that around privacy because that is so important. You know, everybody lands differently in as far as privacy goes and what they believe is the law or what their rights are. So obviously we need to. You know, walk into this cautiously, but we do need to make some progress forward so we can start to bring some better solutions and make lives more efficient across, across the globe.

So again, Zach, I appreciate you unpacking all of that today. And Zach, it was such a pleasure having you on today. And I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Zach Dougherty: I really appreciate it. Thanks Brian.

Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Zach Dougherty Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.

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