2017 MCCA RAINMAKERS
MCCA’s Annual List of Rainmakers proves that the profession has talented diverse attorneys who also have valuable client development skills. MCCA honors attorneys from across the nation who have achieved success through innovative, consistent and proactive business development. Their success stories offer insight and value to attorneys at every career stage.
PAST MCCA RAINMAKERS
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
“Rainmaker is not a label I particularly like. It sounds like you’re out for the next big catch,” says Anand Agneswhar, a litigation partner in Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s New York office who co-chairs the firm’s product liability practice group and heads its diversity committee. “To me that isn’t what being a successful lawyer who generates business is all about. I’m concerned about a client’s business and wellbeing. And that in turn hopefully has a ripple effect and brings in more business.”
Agneshwar, a musician whose first dream was to play guitar in a rock band, now represents pharmaceutical and consumer product companies in productliability and related litigation. “On the upside when you bring in business you gain a voice in a firm,” he says. “But then the buck stops with you if something goes wrong with the case. You have to put together a great team, manage externally and internally, and make sure you’re doing well for the firm while giving your client the best service you possibly can.”
“Bringing in a matter is just the first step,” he adds. “Constantly you have to be doing the best for the client and looking ahead. A new client is not just your next assignment. It’s a continuation of doing the very best.”
Part of what Agneshwar likes best about rainmaking is building a team and showcasing junior lawyers. “Recently we had a strategy meeting with a client where only associates presented. You get to think and partner creatively. It’s a luxury and responsibility.”
Amy L. Baird
Early in her career, Baird was an in-house lawyer at a major interstate natural gas pipeline. “They really wanted the new lawyers to understand the energy business. So part of our job was to learn about the business, like pipeline operations and marketing and regulatory issues, from the senior business executives,” she says. “It’s much harder to learn the business if you start out as an outsider lawyer. I was fortunate to have had this invaluable experience before going to a firm.”
Baird is an energy lawyer. As a partner at Jackson Walker, her practice includes energy contracts and litigation, and project development—everything in the midstream sector of the oil and gas business, meaning the part of the industry, “from the wellhead to point where retail sales begin.”
The most challenging and interesting aspects of Baird’s practice are one in the same: keeping up with the industry. “The energy industry is always evolving. Prices for gas, oil and liquids are cyclical, meaning different opportunities and problems arise for clients as a result. And the industry changes enormously in response to changes in the regulatory structure. It can be a lot of work, but the evolution of the energy business is part of what makes it interesting—it would be so dull to do the same thing over and over again.”
Baird earned her BA and JD from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama Law School, respectively, in her hometown of Tuscaloosa. She grew up just four blocks from the University’s stadium and is a passionate Alabama Crimson Tide football fan.
Rainmaking isn’t easy, she says. “You spend a lot of time keeping in touch with current clients to find out what their needs are, and looking for new clients. It’s important to maintain contact with current and potential future clients about their legal needs. You don’t necessarily have to keep a spreadsheet like some of my more organized colleagues do to track their client contacts, but it’s always important to anticipate clients’ needs and make yourself and your firm helpful to them. You can’t become complacent.”
Hogan Lovells US LLP
“I focus on becoming a trusted advisor for clients, building relationships, and being able to spot and create opportunities,” says Mark W. Brennan, a partner in Hogan Lovells’ Washington, D.C. office. His practice involves cutting-edge communications and privacy issues. Some of his clients include leading tech and e-commerce companies, “Internet of Things” pioneers, and global healthcare, financial and transportation clients.
Brennan’s formula for rainmaking success is to be proactive, patient and persistent. He advises seeking out opportunities to develop strong relationships wherever you can and being prepared to keep pursuing new work even if you hit speed bumps. “Don’t overlook the persistence element,” Brennan said. “Know how you can add value, and convey your strengths clearly to clients and colleagues. And if a particular approach doesn’t work, figure out why and adapt for the next opportunity.”
In rainmaking, it’s also important to be yourself,” says Brennan, an out LGBT partner. “Sometimes, especially early on, you may feel like you need to follow a specific model that you have seen other successful rainmakers use. Of course, if you do that, you’re not really distinguishing yourself. By relying instead on your own authentic voice and style—one that comes naturally, you can spend more time and energy focusing on the client’s objectives.”
A native of Ocala, Florida, Brennan was the first in his immediate family to get a college degree. “My parents stressed the importance of a good education and encouraged me to pursue a professional career. I’ve been fortunate enough to have strong support from family and friends along the way.”
Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell
Carolyn Fairless first realized she was a rainmaker when her phone started to ring. “Clients were calling me directly. They expected me to be the lead lawyer,” she says. “It’s a huge compliment to have clients choose me, particularly in my work, which mostly involves representing other lawyers and other firms. They understand what it means to provide high quality legal services because they do the same themselves.”
Fairless is the managing partner of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, a national civil litigation firm based in Denver. Her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, professional liability defense and insurance disputes. “My clients trust me with their most important matters, and it’s important that I never lose sight of that. They put their confidence in me and I don’t want to disappoint them.”
As a woman in the legal profession, there have been challenges, says Fairless. “If you have a title as a woman lawyer, people sometimes question whether you’ve earned it or got the title just because you’re a woman. The great thing about having my own clients is that I know I’ve earned it, and that they don’t care about gender. They hire me because they want the best lawyer and the best outcome.”
Prior to law school, Fairless worked as a computer programmer in her native Louisiana. “I loved the problem solving but hated the solitude,” she recalls. At the same time her brother was applying to law school and suggested she follow his lead. “We didn’t have any lawyers in the family and I didn’t know any lawyers, but nonetheless I took his advice and earned my JD at the University of Colorado Law School; it changed my life.
“I view my practice as doing the best I can do for clients. The consequence is often getting additional work. I never set out to be a rainmaker. That simply developed over time as I worked hard for my clients. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to do work I’m passionate about for clients I care about, and the business just followed.”
Arturo J. González
Morrison & Foerster, LLP
“Once I get in the room with a client, I almost always get the work,” says Arturo J. González, a leading trial lawyer with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. “I suspect it has to do with my confidence and presentation skills. I can comfortably converse with a CEO of a large corporation, or with a truck driver. I do a lot of research before a presentation, including the company, matter, opposing counsel, judge and the community where the case is pending. I’ve never faced a question from a client that I didn’t think about before the meeting.”
A longtime rainmaker, González enjoys training his team to do the work. At the same time, he’s very hands on. “I pride myself on knowing the facts better than anyone in the courtroom when the case goes to trial. I delegate, yet I read every deposition transcript.” González grew up in Roseville, California, a small railroad town near Sacramento. His father worked as a laborer for Southern Pacific. When he first met his counselor at the University of California at Davis, González made his higher education and career plans (which he later realized) clear—he intended to go to Harvard Law School and become a trial lawyer. “My counselor chuckled. In 1978, there weren’t a lot of Latino lawyers,” González says. “My counselor’s goal was more modest—to keep me in school through the semester.”
Today, González feels less pressured to bring in the next big case than to keep the firm practicing at an elite level. “Bringing in a big case is not enough. The generation that was here when I started is retiring. I need to make sure our troops are well trained and that we bring our ‘A’ game every time, without exception.”
Global Board US Executive Committee
Northern California Managing Partner,
Chair – US Tax Practice,
DLA Piper LLP
Good lawyers don’t necessarily make rain. “I see it all the time,” says Sang Kim, DLA Piper’s managing partner of Northern California which includes Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Sacramento. “Business and client development requires some skills and talent but there’s a huge market component and luck involved too. For me it was coming to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. I am not sure that I would’ve had a material practice by my mid-30s anywhere else. I probably would have been more likely to make partner by serving firm clients.”
Born in Korea, Kim was eight when his family relocated to the United States where like many Korean immigrants, they settled in Queens, New York. “My father was a doctor but actually discouraged me from pursuing medicine. Frankly, I didn’t object either. I thought becoming a lawyer was sufficiently interesting and I took that proverbial leap of faith which I suppose is what most people do when they decide to go to law school.”
“For most people but perhaps more so for an immigrant minority attorney, clients don’t fall into your lap,” says Kim. “You hope for equal access and opportunity and equal treatment for equal performance. I think it’s important to figure out systems and every industry and organization has one. It became very obvious to me early on that lawyers who led client relationships had leverage and influence, but I wasn’t sure how to get there.”
Four years into his practice Kim had an epiphany: “If I take people out to lunch, the firm actually pays for it. For a young lawyer still paying off significant student loans, that was a win-win moment! So I began scheduling lunches with clients and contacts virtually every day of the week. I got to know more about them and their work. It was an immensely valuable opportunity to gather market intelligence and learn. I found myself asking lots of questions and never went to those lunches with a predetermined agenda to sell something.”
“People know what you do and eventually they began calling and asking for help on matters. Clients want to work with folks they are comfortable with and trust. So those lunches turned out to be very effective in laying the groundwork for future business development. It’s something I do to this day and encourage others to do so actively.”
Samuel S. Park
Winston and Strawn
“I’ve thought of other lawyers as rainmakers, but never myself,” says Sam Park, a litigation partner in Winston & Strawn’s Chicago office. “Generating business is a large component of our practice. But for me, it’s more about establishing good relationships with clients than going after the next job.”
Park landed his first client when his co-counsel on a case he had worked on as an associate went in-house. “I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call from him,” Park recalls. “It happened without my going out and doing pitches, because he was impressed with my work. And I already considered the client a friend, which made it all the better. My first experience of feeling directly responsible for a client and being connected to their business gave me a taste for what I wanted to do. It was exciting.”
He began his career as a general litigator, but over the years his practice became more specialized. Park now focuses almost exclusively on patent cases, and particularly those in which a pharmaceutical company is seeking to design around or invalidate a patent that covers a branded drug so the company can come out with a generic or biosimilar version. Like many patent attorneys, Park has a background in science.
The son of chemists, Park thought he’d follow in his parents’ footsteps. He received an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago and spent a year working at a hospital with children with developmental disorders, but instead opted to enter the legal profession.
“You can’t control some of the factors that cause business to go up and down,” says Park, “but you can establish good relationships with clients and consistently give them great results. Without great results, they won’t keep coming back.”
Managing Partner and Founder,
It didn’t take Luis Salazar long to set his sights on rainmaking. “Growing up in New York I helped in the family dry cleaners business. It was heavy customer contact twelve hours a day and dollars came in for good service. Early on, I had a sense of that exchange. At my first firm they gave origination bonuses. That definitely motivated me and it was something I understood.”
Salazar Law is a Miami-based commercial law boutique serving clients and business people in four areas: commercial litigation, commercial transactions, compliance and cyber security and financial restructuring. “We’re just ten team members and we’re small on purpose,” says Salazar, a former senior partner at a big law firm. “Having my own firm has given me more running room. I like developing clients in a conflict free environment. We eliminate those with a boutique.”
And the firm is purposely disruptive in its approach to the practice of law, he says. Salazar embraces alternative billing methods, diversity and technology. “We’re one of first firms of our size to contract and harness an AI legal research service. We’re forward thinking in meeting the demand in the market. We can support in-house counsel and in crisis and go against big law and be successful. We pack a punch for our size.”
Name partner responsibility rests heavily on Salazar’s shoulders, but he insists Salazar Law is a group effort. “It’s up to everyone on our team to deliver for the client and make them want to stay here. We’re transparent in financials and process here. We’re successful because we keep everyone involved.”
Christina Guerola Sarchio
As a young associate, Christina Guerola Sarchio developed a relationship with a Fortune® 10 client through her network at the Hispanic National Bar Association. They began referring her small matters. Pleased with her work, they sent increasingly larger matters. Unfortunately, there was a senior partner who’d done some work years before and lost a big case, and the firm hadn’t been hired for truly impactful cases since. The senior partner also erected barriers to Sarchio’s bridge-building efforts with the client. To Sarchio’s surprise, the client intimated that if she were to leave the firm, they would follow.
“That was a ‘light bulb’ moment for me. I had some power,” she says. “So I left the firm and took the client with me. They’ve been a loyal client now for ten years.”
Now a litigation partner at Orrick’s Washington, D.C. office, Sarchio handles complex business disputes (many of which go to trial) ranging from breach of contract cases, to class action matters, to false advertising and sports law cases. She says, “Clients know I have extensive trial experience and a winning record. I can prep a case from the beginning as though we’re going to trial and send a message to the other side that we’re not afraid to try it. I get brought on for strong credentials.”
She never anticipated becoming a rainmaker when she was a senior associate and young partner. “I thought, I’m a Spanish girl from New York City. I didn’t go to the right prep schools, I don’t play golf. I’ll never generate business. I’ll just be a service partner,” she remembers. “But the fact is anyone can generate business so long as you’re in a position where you’re able to demonstrate your skills. People take notice. Put yourself out there, and don’t be deterred when you hit walls. I did it. You can do it.”
Anthony N. Upshaw
McDermott Will & Emery
Anthony “Tony” Upshaw was already a rainmaker as a fifth-year associate. “I’d become very involved in the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, and wasn’t afraid to ask folks about business propositions. I asked them to trust me and send me work. And they did.” He credits his confidence to his five years of active duty as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard before attending law school. “I was never a baby faced associate,” he adds. “That might have helped.”
“Generating business instantly gives you some gravitas in a firm. I was able to work on partners’ litigation and build my practice. Also, there was suddenly a group of people who were working on clients that I brought in, and I was responsible for feeding them. A certain sense of responsibility definitely goes with that.”
Today, Upshaw is the partner-in-charge of litigation in McDermott’s Miami office. He focuses on defending clients in class action, mass tort, product liability and complex civil litigation. Over the course of his career, he has tried over 30 significant civil jury trials to verdict.
Though he has never obtained business on a golf course, Upshaw considers his methods of generating business very old school: “Personal contact works even in today’s world of electronic interaction. Young and “senior” in-house lawyers appreciate getting to know me personally. Grabbing coffee, having lunch, meeting in person—these same basic tools that I can use in my personal life to connect with people also translate to success in my professional life.”