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Robert Bohn, a senior associate in the government contracts practice group in McKenna Long & Aldridge‘s Los Angeles office, believes that treating yourself as just an employee won’t get you far. To give himself the best chance of survival at the firm, Bohn since 2007 has been developing a hybrid corporate transactional practice focused primarily on government contract-specific due diligence within the defense and aerospace industry. His strategy to gain credibility was to form an alliance with existing practice groups, capital investment banks and private equity groups such as McGladrey Capital Markets within the aerospace and defense arena. He also wanted to impress the partners by cultivating direct leads and closing deals. So far, Bohn has successfully closed four deals including representing a client selling a business to a private equity firm with a very complicated corporate structure. Bohn’s government contracts experience was shaped while interning as an undergraduate at the Oshkosh Corp., a defense contractor in Oshkosh, Wis., where he was able to work on defense and federal acquisitions regulations supplements in the aerospace and defense arena. It was for this reason that McKenna Long hired him. His unique regulations experience got him the job. But, according to Bohn, he had to prove his value and credibility to the firm to keep it. About 18 months ago, Bohn was able to leverage his government contracts experience with the firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice and shorten the time to a deal closing by providing assurance that the client’s new acquisition was complying with applicable government procurement regulations. “Aerospace and defense is the most significant component of government contracting,” said Jeremy Silverman, a partner in the firm’s corporate department and co-chairman of the government contracts and corporate initiative. Silverman and Bohn have worked on several M&A deals together including working with a foreign- owned company that had a special set of regulations and security clearances issues. According to Silverman, demonstrating an ability to find ways to increase value to clients is a consideration for making partner, “Bohn is acting like an owner,” says Silverman. “Lawyers that make themselves more unique and valuable to our client market are more valuable to a law firm.” “Treating yourself as an employee is not how you are going to be a success in the firm,” said Bohn. Associates must play a balancing act to keep their job. “Be a good associate and learn how to be a good lawyer, then how to be a good businessperson.” Bohn says he kept his job by thinking of how to build off the firm’s core competencies and bring business to the firm first, rather than how to be a good employee.

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