Eric Matzke, 34, Quarles & Brady

Office: Milwaukee.

Practice area: Product liability.

Law school: Marquette University Law School, 2010

How long have you been at the firm? Nine years.

How long were you an associate at the firm? Seven years.

Were you an associate at another firm before joining your present firm? I joined Quarles & Brady as an associate after graduating from law school.

What year did you make partner at your current firm?  2017.

Eric W. Matzke, partner with Quarles & Brady.

What’s the biggest surprise you experienced in becoming partner? I was surprised, and thankful, that several of my clients reached out to congratulate me.

What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in making you partner? I adopted an early partner mentality where I focused not only on growing my skill set as a product liability lawyer, but also on developing new business for the firm in other areas. In particular, I devoted significant time as an associate to building relationships with my colleagues across practice groups to learn how their skill sets and expertise may help me cross-sell their talents to clients. Building these relationships also allowed me to identify new client prospects where our firm was uniquely positioned to help, which generated additional business for the firm outside of my individual practice, and positioned me for early partnership.

Describe how you feel now about your career now that you’ve made partner.

I feel fortunate to work with clients who view me as a trusted advisor, both in litigation and on various matters that directly affect the trajectory of their business. I also feel fortunate to partner with so many dynamic, talented attorneys at Quarles & Brady who share the same passion for relentlessly defending our clients’ interests. They challenge me every day to be a better partner, attorney, and member of the community, and I love it.

What’s the key to successful business development in your opinion? Understanding what makes you, your partners, and your firm unique. By building relationships with partners across practices and offices, I was able to identify opportunities where our firm could help clients that may not have had a current need for my product liability representation, but where I have a direct relationship and have earned the clients’ trust. Engaging in team building across offices and practices is the best tool to understand your partners’ expertise and identify these cross-selling opportunities.

What’s been the biggest change, day-to-day, in your routine since becoming partner? The biggest and best change is that I spend more time communicating with clients and prospective clients. The more information I can gather from clients or prospective clients about their needs, goals and what makes them unique, the better prepared I am to assemble a proposal and team that is custom tailored to serve the clients’ interests in an efficient, inclusive, and effective manner.

Who had the greatest influence in your career that helped propel you to partner? My father, Wayne Matzke, who was the CEO of a food manufacturing business, had the greatest influence on my career and partnership. He taught me that a career can be influenced by many things you cannot control, but a successful career features two things that you can: an unfailing respect for individuals at every level and a relentless work ethic to be the best at your craft. I found this guidance to be spot-on in my efforts to become a partner at Quarles & Brady, and consistent with the values and culture embodied by the firm as a whole.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give an associate who wants to make partner Discomfort drives growth. Leave the comfort zone of your own practice and your own experience, and get to know your colleagues and partners, and what makes them special. Broadening your perspective will allow you to grow as an attorney and learn more about your clients as a whole, while simultaneously allowing you to identify new client opportunities.

 

Got a suggestion for a partner to profile in this column? Email jringel@alm.com.