Need some advice for advancing at your law firm? Here are tips from four lawyers who spoke this morning about “Rising in the Ranks of Law Firms” to lawyers attending the 20th annual Texas Minority Counsel Program in Houston.
Kathleen Wu, a partner in Andrews Kurth in Dallas who is co-chair of the firm’s business transactions section, told the crowd of about 250 lawyers that young lawyers need to be “brave” in going after business. But most importantly, she said, lawyers need to do good work. “There is no shortcut. The price of entry is to be an excellent lawyer,” Wu said.
Ileana Blanco, managing partner of the DLA Piper office in Houston, told the lawyers to take risks because a legal career is a marathon instead of a sprint. She said a big risk she took was moving to DLA Piper from Bracewell & Giuliani in 2008. Blanco also touted the benefits of networking — she keeps a list of all of her meetings and lunches and assesses the list at year-end to see how she got business and where she can return favors by referring business. She noted that business sometimes from unexpected places and said lawyers always should try to learn from rejection.
Paul Stafford, a partner in Carter Stafford Arnett Hamada & Mockler in Dallas and president of the Dallas Bar Association, said the legal profession is not a meritocracy. He said it’s important to “do excellent work, get excellent mentors and be mentored.” But Stafford said lawyers need to have a plan when they join a firm. “Know what you want; begin with the end in mind,” he said.
Linda Chanow, executive director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, said one way to progress at a firm is to ask for help from a lawyer who is skilled in an area, such as rainmaking. She also said lawyers need to learn what is valued at a firm to make sure they spend time on those tasks.
— Brenda Sapino Jeffreys