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New partners have already proved their prowess as lawyers. Now, the next hurdle is learning how to generate business. Legal Times special reports editor Jenna Greene asked seven D.C. rainmakers how they landed their first clients. SCOTT BLAKE HARRIS Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis The best way to attract clients is to have clients. And the best way for a young partner to get that first client is to have help from a senior partner. That is how it worked for me. In the early 1980s, the U.S. subsidiary of a large European company contacted Jeremiah Collins, a senior partner at Williams & Connolly, where I was then working. The potential client had an antitrust question. Collins, one of the most gracious and talented men I ever met, told the potential client that I had more experience in the subject matter, suggested that I would be perfect to provide the assistance needed, and redirected the call to me. He told me, in turn, that the client was mine. When the client received the work product, it was pleased, and asked whether I would be available to handle all of their work in the United States. I allowed as how that would be acceptable, and have now represented that client for about 20 years. That representation led directly and indirectly to many others. I have never been able to repay Collins, who is still counsel at Williams & Connolly. And while I could never duplicate Collins’ graciousness or skill, I have tried to duplicate his kindness by passing clients along to younger partners trying to build a practice. Scott Blake Harris specializes in communications law. His clients include the Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems. ROBERT LIGHTHIZER Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom I returned to private practice, joining Skadden, Arps as a partner, after spending several years in the government — first as chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee, then as deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration. As I was making the transition back to a law firm, a former senator and friend told me that I would be surprised where my business came from. It’s not likely to be the people you dealt with every day, he said, but someone you thought would never do anything for you. True to his prediction, my first significant client was someone I had met on the Hill but was unable to help. “You screwed us, Lighthizer,” he later told me. “But you never lied, you shot straight, and you told us why you had to do what you were doing.” To me, the lessons for young lawyers (including new partners) aren’t particularly profound, but are nonetheless important. First — and this is especially true in Washington — try to take time in your career to do something in government or elsewhere, where you can make contacts and deal with businessmen and women in a different way than as lawyer-to-client. Second, if you get an opportunity like that, make the most of it. Return your calls, take meetings that are requested, show common courtesy, and above all, be straight with people. What you’re looking for is a reputation for integrity and, most importantly, good judgment. But in the end, of course, the best advice is this: Be lucky! Robert Lighthizer is the leader of the international trade department at Skadden, Arps. His clients include Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel. MAUREEN DWYER Shaw Pittman Fortunately, the transition from associate to partner/business generator is not expected to happen overnight, and most associates are trained in business development skills from the start of their careers. For me, that “training” included participation in business and community organizations, such as the Board of Trade, Commercial Real Estate Women, D.C. Bar committees, and the YMCA. What I was told was not simply to participate, but to assume a leadership position within those organizations. Additionally, I had exposure to clients of the firm by second chairing cases and working as part of a team. Georgetown University, for example, was a long-standing client of the firm, and when the senior partner was ready to transition the work to someone else, I had developed a strong reputation with the client and was selected to serve as their lead counsel within the firm. That experience led to additional work for other colleges and universities in the District. My activities at the Board of Trade were also instrumental in helping me develop new clients for the firm. I chaired a committee called the District of Columbia Development Committee, and DRI Partners, a developer from Virginia who was interested in doing work in the District, attended those meetings and learned of my expertise. Their first project in D.C., which I handled, was an office building at Eighth and I streets, N.W. They had the vision to see the emergence of that area as the “new downtown,” and DRI is now an established presence in the District. Maureen Dwyer is a real estate partner at Shaw Pittman. ROBERT GARRETT Arnold & Porter Some of the best business development opportunities come from existing firm clients, particularly when you understand their strategic objectives and how particular legal work might help achieve those objectives. That is certainly true in my case. My first client was Major League Baseball, which has been a client of our firm since the 1940s. More than 20 years ago, I approached baseball to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of its taking a lead role in certain multiparty litigation against the cable industry — litigation that, I believed, significantly affected baseball’s long-term interests. Baseball ultimately decided to pursue the litigation, and I had principal responsibility for handling the matter, which (fortunately) ended with a favorable result for baseball. That case led to my handling over the years a number of related matters for baseball and other sports leagues — proving that sound advice may help develop business but it never hurts to win either. Robert Garrett specializes in intellectual property and telecommunications law. JOE SIMS Jones Day Most of my significant clients came, at least the first introduction, from someone else — just like most clients do. TCI/Liberty Corp (John Malone) came from an introduction by a Dallas partner who had a relationship with the GC. Procter & Gamble came from another introduction by a partner who was already working for them. CBS/Viacom, which is now a 20-year relationship, came from an introduction to George Vradenberg, who was then the GC, by Patricia Diaz Dennis, who was then a partner (and now a senior lawyer at SBC). AOL came to me when Vradenberg became the GC of AOL. I began doing work for Campbell Soup when Ellen Kaden, who had succeeded Vradenberg as GC of CBS, became GC of Campbell after CBS was acquired by Westinghouse (which was already a client of mine). When Viacom acquired CBS, I continued to do work for Viacom. Rhone-Poulenc/Aventis (the Vitamin Cartel matters) came to me on a referral from another major D.C. firm, which had a conflict. Abbott Labs and Ernst & Young came from introductions by other partners. ChevronTexaco obviously is the result of a former partner, Charles James, becoming GC of that company. I started doing antitrust work for the predecessor company to Nextel because my partner Morgan O’Brien started the company. The exceptions might be ICANN, where Jon Postel hired me after I met with him in response to a request for assistance that he had sent to a small number of firms, and HCA, which is the only client that I know came to me as a result of a speech I gave. (Of all of these, HCA is the only one that is no longer a client.) So I’m not sure there is much of a lesson here, other than it pays to have partners who have enough confidence in you to recommend you to their clients, and you then have to do a good enough job for those clients that they keep coming back to you. Joe Sims chairs both the technology issues practice and the antitrust and competition law practice at Jones Day. MATTHEW JACOBS Kirkpatrick & Lockhart My first large client came with me when I left Covington & Burling in 1989 to join Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and to start up K&L’s D.C. insurance coverage group to supplement the firm’s main coverage group in Pittsburgh. I had been the senior associate on a large environmental insurance coverage matter for the Stauffer Chemical Co., which has since gone through several corporate transactions and name changes. I had been working almost exclusively on the case for at least three years, and had developed a good relationship with the clients, with our local counsel in Los Angeles, and with a number of critical witnesses whom I had defended in depositions. When I left my former firm, the client asked me to stay on the case, continuing to work with Covington and local counsel. (I’d like to think that it was both because of my historical knowledge about the litigation and because the client valued my work.) Over time, I introduced Stauffer to excellent K&L litigators in our D.C. office and, over the next three years of extensive discovery and motion practice, Stauffer generated over $1 million in annual fees. The second story involves almost a classic business development effort that resulted in substantial work. I was attending my 20th college reunion, and I signed up to play in the alumni golf tournament. I was playing with some classmates, and another graduate from the class ahead of mine, but we had been in the same eating club while in college. He told me that he was the general counsel of a large biotech company with a subsidiary in Boston, and that they were facing a difficult employment termination case that had been filed by a female executive officer of the subsidiary. I mentioned that we had a Boston office, with a number of very good employment litigators, and one thing led to another. I made the necessary introductions, and our Boston office prepared the case and took it to trial over a two-year period. That matter also generated over $1 million in fee revenues for the firm. That matter taught me that it pays to know about the capabilities of the other offices of a multi-office firm, and to know your colleagues well enough to discuss their experience and expertise. I have since been able to generate a number of new matters by connecting K&L lawyers from other offices with clients who needed their particular expertise. Matthew Jacobs is head of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart’s D.C. insurance practice group. SCOTT GILBERT Gilbert Heintz & Randolph I frankly don’t remember the identity of the first client I generated, but it would have been while I was a midlevel associate at Covington & Burling close to 20 years ago. The client likely was a mass tort defendant concerned about insurance coverage of the underlying tort claims. I suspect that client called me, as have many other clients in the ensuing two decades, based on recommendations from third parties concerning work I had performed for firm clients on related matters. Younger lawyers should recognize that such recommendations often come not only from satisfied past or current clients, but also from other professionals who have had an opportunity to observe your work, including principals and lawyers of adversaries, law firms unable to take matters because of potential conflicts, and academics and consultants with whom one has worked. Such recommendations most often are not sufficient in and of themselves, but they are an important introduction, even where a potential client is interviewing several law firms. In the end, experience provides the opportunity to create a positive reputation and to develop sufficient judgment and confidence that, in a first meeting or on a first telephone call, a prospective client will feel comfortable with you and in relying upon you. In my view, young partners, as well as senior associates, should not be pressured to develop clients; rather, they should be provided the substantive and client experience from which they can build. The key to successful business generation is doing your job, doing it to a sustained level of excellence, with care, creativity, and a sense of perspective, and being able to convey that to a potential client. The law firm can assist in this significantly. As we tell our younger lawyers: “You have only two jobs here. One is to serve the clients to the best of your ability, and the second is to become the best lawyer you can be. And, as far as you are concerned, we also have only two jobs. The first is to serve the clients to the best of our ability, and the second is to help you do your jobs.” Scott Gilbert specializes in complex dispute resolution. His clients include Pfizer Inc. and Millennium Chemicals.

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