Practice area: Asset management.

Law school and year of graduation: New York University School of Law, 2004.

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

What year did you make partner at your current firm? 2019.

Were you an associate at another firm before joining your present firm? I started my legal career at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York in 2004 and was there for approximately seven years. In 2012 I joined Debevoise & Plimpton in New York, and subsequently moved to its Washington, D.C., office. In 2017 I moved to Fried Frank in D.C. as a special counsel and was promoted to partner two years later.

Matthew W. Howard. Matthew Howard.

Describe how you feel now about your career now that you’ve made partner. After becoming partner, I definitely experienced a “milestone feeling,” culminating from the many years of hard work. It also marks the beginning of a new phase that opens many doors. One of the reasons I chose to come to Fried Frank was the sense of commitment coming from the firm regarding my career development. I definitely felt like this achievement was a recognition of the firm’s faith in me and their continued investment in my career.

What’s the key to successful business development in your opinion? Successful business development relies on building relationships, early and often. No one wakes up one morning with an amazing client list; it takes years to build relationships and a good reputation. Clients want to work with the best, but they also want to work with people they know and like. The key is to be both! The quality and excellence of your work, of course, takes prominence, but business development hinges on cultivating and maintaining relationships of trust.

Also, you never know who your next client will be. I always counsel associates to stay in touch with former colleagues, friends from college and law school, even lawyers and business people who have been opposite you in negotiations. Keep doing great work and cultivating your network and business development will be a natural progression.

What’s been the biggest change, day-to-day, in your routine since becoming partner? Many more meetings! Another big change is becoming more involved in hiring, associate development and group supervision. A lot of work goes into building a great pipeline of talent and helping our team develop skills through training and mentorship—I’m excited to be a part of that process!

Who had the greatest influence in your career that helped propel you to partner? Elchi Nowrojee, a principal at The Carlyle Group, has been a friend and mentor since he showed me the ropes at Cleary. He has always been supportive both personally and professionally, and he has never shied away from providing honest advice, which is truly invaluable.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give an associate who wants to make partner? My best piece of advice would be to make it known to those around you that you want to be a partner. If you do not voice your intentions, you may inadvertently allow assumptions to form about what you want professionally. I would also recommend giving people the opportunity to offer you feedback, whether you want to hear it or not. It is beneficial to take tough feedback early on in your career so you have the opportunity to improve and grow.

What’s the biggest surprise you experienced in becoming partner? I have been pleasantly surprised at how collaborative the partnership is and how focused and dedicated everyone is regarding the firm’s strategy.

What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in making you partner? I think it was a combination of factors. Partnership decisions are incredibly challenging at any firm, so I think it is rarely one thing that “puts you over the top.” Doing strong work is clearly important, but so is being part of the firm community. Since I came to Fried Frank later in my career, I made an effort to engage and get to know people in my practice and in the firm as a whole.


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