Pedro Bermeo, 33, Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Office: New York.
Practice area: Capital markets.
Law school and year of graduation: University of Virginia School of Law, 2012.
How long have you been at the firm? Since the fall of 2012.
How long were you an associate at the firm? About eight years.
Were you an associate at another firm before joining your present firm? No.
What year did you make partner at your current firm? 2020.
What’s the biggest surprise you experienced in becoming a partner? I was surprised to see just how much goes into running the firm. Beyond the legal aspect, there are so many factors that go into ensuring the firm continues to operate as a successful business, and it’s been exciting to play a bigger role in that.
This isn’t so much of a surprise, but I have also been grateful for how supportive the firm’s partners have been as I stepped into this new role.
What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in making you a partner? I don’t think there’s just a single deciding factor. First, strong substantive knowledge is absolutely essential to success. It is also critical to develop both a professional and collegial relationship with members of your practice and clients alike. I was fortunate to develop strong relationships with clients, and I have no doubt that their feedback to my (now) partners over the years made a big difference in my career trajectory. It’s key to become a go-to contact for your clients, and for your colleagues to recognize that clients put their confidence in you and your advice. If you deliver results, build trust and provide the right advice to your clients, their satisfaction will help drive your reputation.
Describe how you feel about your career now that you’ve made partner. It’s certainly motivating and has given me confidence for what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to focusing on business development opportunities and becoming more involved in making strategic decisions for the capital markets group and the firm. I am also now a member of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. I am excited to get more involved in the committee’s initiatives and to be contributing to the firm’s efforts in that space.
What’s the key to successful business development in your opinion? I think the prerequisite to successful business development is cultivating and nurturing sincere relationships. Over the years, I’ve learned to try to build meaningful connections with contacts on my transactions, even after the deal is over. Consistency in reaching out is important, but you also need to be genuine, try to get to know people on a more personal level. If you can build a friendly relationship with a contact, you’ll be remembered when future opportunities arise. It also goes without saying that substantive knowledge, and the ability to provide advice that meets clients’ expectations and motivations, set the foundation for successful business development.
What’s been the biggest change, day-to-day, in your routine since becoming a partner?Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my day-to-day most, but from day one as a partner, I became more involved in group and strategic decision-making processes. I was immediately involved in everything from associate development and mentoring to recruiting and hiring. I’m also now one of the capital markets group’s staffing coordinators, which allows me to see what is going on across the group, and to understand how members of the team are developing. In general, being a partner has allowed me to become more active in firm administrative initiatives and business operations.
‘I was fortunate to develop strong relationships with clients, and I have no doubt that their feedback to my (now) partners over the years made a big difference in my career trajectory. If you deliver results, build trust and provide the right advice to your clients, their satisfaction will help drive your reputation.’
Who had the greatest influence in your career that helped propel you to partner? There are too many people to name. I’ve been fortunate to develop strong relationships with several partners in my group and across the firm, and each of them has been helpful in developing my career path. Some of my mentors were instrumental in providing me with opportunities to step into senior roles early in my career or putting me in positions to increase my profile and develop client relationships. Others simply provided invaluable advice along the way. Davis Polk has been a really supportive place.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give an associate who wants to make partner? From day one, your interactions with your own team members, as well as with clients and lawyers at other firms, will begin to establish your reputation. For this reason, it’s important to use good judgment in every decision that you make, both internally and externally. Seeking out mentors within the firm to guide you can be invaluable as you work to build your reputation. It goes without saying that hard work is important, but your initial focus on every new transaction should be the client’s goals. If you work to understand your client’s business, you will be able to give more valuable advice, which will drive your reputation as an effective lawyer.
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