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Rainmakers 2013

MCCA’s Annual List of Rainmakers proves that the profession has talented lawyers who also have valuable business development skills. This list includes attorneys from around the country who practice a wide variety of law. Their success stories offer insight and value to lawyers at every career stage.

KAYE N. COURINGTON

KAYE N. COURINGTON

Courington, Kiefer & Commers, L.L.C.


Location: New Orleans, LA
Years Practicing: 25
Practice Area: Toxic Tort, Longshore, Workers Compensation, General Casualty, Admiralty

BEFORE ATTENDING TULANE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL, Kaye Courington was a director of college admissions. But after four years she was ready to explore other career options. Courington, a member at the 14-attorney firm Courington, Kiefer & Sommers in New Orleans and Ocean Springs, Miss., says, “The rainmaking piece of my career came very naturally to me. I’m lucky that way. I’m outgoing and curious, always have been. My interest in clients is very genuine, so for me business development is never a chore. It includes getting to know people, learning about their businesses, and letting them know how we can help them. This is something I do every day without really thinking about it. A rainmaker never takes a break from business development. Even if I’m traveling to do something like looking at colleges with my kids, I try to meet with an existing or potential client.”

The firm also promotes a “nonprofit of the month” program. Clients and employees nominate a charity that is particularly meaningful to them. The selected cause receives a donation, and firm employees are encouraged to volunteer, if applicable and local. “The program creates bonds and furthers relationships. Plus it’s good for the world and good business. So it’s a win-win situation.”

MICHAEL J. GARCIA

MICHAEL J. GARCIA

Partner
Kirkland & Ellis LLP


Location: New York, NY
Years Practicing:23
Practice Area: Government & Internal Investigations

“COMING FROM THE PUBLIC SECTOR, I HAD TO LEARN THE WORLD OF RAINMAKING,” says Michael Garcia, a government and internal investigations partner in Kirkland’s New York office. “Because I didn’t rise through the ranks of a fi rm, I missed out on a lot of exposure to the law fi rm business model. Fortunately, I was able to watch the partners here and pick up pretty quickly on how things worked.” Before joining Kirkland Ellis in 2008, Garcia was the Senate-confi rmed United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He successfully directed a broad range of prosecutions, including investigations into whitecollar fraud, international terrorism, and national security matters. Prior to that, he spent two years as assistant secretary for immigration and customs enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The public sector isn’t so strictly defined in terms of client relations. But it did give me the confi dence to go into new situations,” says Garcia. “When you walk into a boardroom or a pitch, you bring substantive abilities, experience but also your presence. I think my background has given me a sense of presence and that’s clearly communicated.” After a brief career in journalism, Garcia attended Albany Law School on a scholarship. “I never had a well-thought-out career trajectory. I was a criminal courtroom lawyer for a lot of my career. I ran some agencies in D.C. Hard work and energy have enabled me to turn the skills I picked up over the years into a successful career in private practice.”

ELIZABETH J. HOLLAND

ELIZABETH J. HOLLAND

Partner
Kenyon & Kenyon


Location: New York, NY
Years Practicing: 25
Practice Area: Pharmaceutical Litigation

“AS A TRIAL LAWYER, ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO GENERATE NEW BUSINESS IS IN THE COURTROOM,” says Elizabeth Holland, a pharmaceutical patent litigator at Kenyon & Kenyon’s New York office. “In the courtroom, both current and potential clients get to see the quality of your work. Of course, a big part of business development is maintaining relationships with existing clients. Clients need to want to work with you on a personal as well as a professional level.” Prior to joining Kenyon & Kenyon in 1997, Holland was at a large New York general practice firm where she did some patent work. At Kenyon she has litigated patents in numerous technical areas and industries, including pharmaceutical, chemical, medical device, and consumer products, and has extensive experience with Hatch-Waxman litigation (lawsuits between generic and branded drug companies).

The native New Yorker was a chemical engineering major in college, but unable to imagine donning a hard hat for daily trips to chemical plants she opted to pursue a career in law instead. For Holland, combining her background in science with litigation seemed an obvious fit: “It’s been a tremendous advantage in patent infringement litigation. The technical issues in patent cases can be very complex. It’s important to not only understand the technology but also to be able to explain it in terms that are understandable.”

JAMES J.S. HOLMES

JAMES J.S. HOLMES

Partner
Sedgwick LLP


Location: Los Angeles, CA
Years Practicing: 25
Practice Area: Media and Entertainment

RAINMAKING ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA LAWYER JAMES (JIM) HOLMES REMEMBERS early in his career offering his services to a movie studio with a strong commitment to diversity. He recalls, “I told them ‘If you want to hire me because I’m gay that’s fine, but I’d rather you hire me because I’m good. And by the way, I’m both.’” He was hired. “I’ve always been out. I was out in law school, and out in my practice,” he adds. An entertainment and media partner at Sedgwick in Los Angeles, Holmes is active in national and local bar associations, both general and those specific to LGBT.

“I’m there to improve the bar and not to develop business; however over the years these groups have offered me leadership opportunities that have given me confidence, knowledge, and compassion. Both existing and potential clients like these things a lot. There’s no seminar, cocktail party, or golf outing that’s going to do that.” Holmes has been with Sedgwick for twenty years, and credits the firm with providing him with a platform which allows him to be successful: “The firm is a national practice, so I’m not just the guy in Los Angeles. Being able to staff a file anywhere in the country has been fundamental to the expansion of my practice.”

WALTER T. JOHNSON

WALTER T. JOHNSON

Partner
Watkins & Eager PLLC


Location: Jackson, MS
Years Practicing: 23
Practice Area: Product Liability; Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation

“I AM FROM A SMALL TOWN IN MISSISSIPPI. My first exposure to lawyers was in the 1960s when the civil rights movement brought lawyers from outside of the Deep South to rural Mississippi,” says Walter Johnson, a rainmaking litigator at Watkins & Eager PLLC in Jackson. “I remember being impressed by the courage they demonstrated and thought about becoming a lawyer myself.” But the law was not Johnson’s first career. In his previous professional life, he was an X-ray technologist, and later a nuclear medicine technologist and clinical instructor in Jackson. “I grew bored doing the same thing each and every day,” he says. “An early mentor of mine told me that ‘a litigator never drinks from the same stream twice. No two cases are the same. There are always different stories and different damages.’ That was just what I was looking for.”

Trying cases has made Johnson a rainmaker. He started off doing medical malpractice defense, which allowed him to try a lot of cases early in his career. “And this was before tort reform in Mississippi,” he explains. “A lot of companies were being sued here. The state became sort of a dumping ground for litigation. Eventually I expanded my practice from defending doctors to also defending pharmaceutical companies and other product manufacturers. “A lot is expected with each piece of litigation, but the more you have the more you want,” adds Johnson.

PETER H. KANG

PETER H. KANG

Partner
Sidley Austin LLP


Location: Los Angeles, CA
Years Practicing: 23
Practice Area:Patent and IP Litigation

WHILE A STUDENT AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY, rainmaking patent and IP litigator Peter Kang double majored in Industrial Engineering and Classics (Latin). Following graduation, he spent a year prior to law school programming by day and tending bar at night. “I’ve always liked to use both sides of my brain,” he says. “And the intersection of technology and law requires two different sets of thinking, culture, and language. To sit comfortably at that crossroad and communicate with the engineers, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and technologists on one side, and the lawyers, judges, and juries on the other, is challenging and stimulating.” Senior IP partner in Sidley’s Palo Alto office, Kang is lead trial counsel and team leader for patent lawsuits in the United States International Trade Commission and federal courts nationwide, including appeals to the Federal Circuit.

He represents clients in high-tech commercial litigation (mostly electronics and software), as well as in trade secret disputes and copyright/trademark suits. He also advises clients in IP licensing and IP diligence for corporate deals. He also represents clients in the recently enacted Inter Partes Review proceedings in the U.S. Patent Office. Over time, his rainmaking techniques have evolved. “When I was a young lawyer, partners said doing good work is a great way to get more work. Trite, but true. Speaking and writing helps, too,” says Kang, who wrote the top-ranked legal treatise “Intellectual Property Litigation in the United States International Trade Commission.” He adds, “I’m not short-sighted or mercenary about getting litigation. Relationships make a fulfilling career. I’ve learned that an understanding of clients’ needs goes far.”

JUDE KEARNEY

JUDE KEARNEY

Partner
Greenberg Traurig, LLP


Location: Washington, DC
Years Practicing: 29
Practice Area:Africa

AS CHAIR OF GREENBERG’S AFRICA PRACTICE, Jude Kearney works with major U.S. and international clients in the areas of energy, telecommunications, infrastructure projects, and financial services. He also handles matters involving mergers and acquisitions, complex litigation, and corporate matters, and has specific experience in international markets including Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Kearney’s interest in Africa began when he completed a yearlong postgraduate fellowship in Nigeria. At the end of his stay, he vowed to return and be part of the developing continent’s growth. In some respects he feels personally vested in Africa’s well-being: “Over the decades there have been a lot of opportunities in Africa, but the individuals who pursued those opportunities weren’t always concerned with the ultimate success of their projects—or the impact of those projects on the host countries. I’m keenly aware that commercial realities must play a role in decisions to invest in a market or to develop its infrastructure, but making sure the projects we work on and leave behind has sustainability is incredibly important to me.”

He describes his business development style as very hands on. He stresses the importance of being where the opportunities are. Though based in Washington, D.C., the Arkansas native travels to Africa monthly, visiting one of the ten African nations with whom he does business. Kearney lived in South Africa from 2000 to 2005, as the founder and head of LeBoeuf Lamb’s Johannesburg office. He joined Greenberg in June 2012 to establish the firm’s Africa practice. “There’s probably an expectation around me to continue at this pace, but that’s not my primary motivation. I am constantly moving to make sure the best options are available.”

AVA E. LIAS-BOOKER

AVA E. LIAS-BOOKER

Partner
McGuirewoods LLP


Location: Baltimore, MD
Years Practicing: 27
Practice Area: Commercial Litigation

“THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT HAVE NOT CHANGED MUCH,” says Ava Lias-Booker, who was featured in Diversity & the Bar’s rainmaker article in 2010. “It’s still important for me to meet my clients’ strategic objectives in the litigation we’re working on, to develop relationships with clients so I understand their industries, and to nurture relationships with key decision makers within the client’s corporate or institutional structures.” The managing partner of McGuireWoods’ Baltimore office, Lias-Booker says while there is no substitute for hard work, engagement, or focus, she does credit much of her rainmaking success to being active in organizations whose missions are wholly or in part dedicated to supporting lawyers of color and women attorneys, such as the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the ClientFocus’ Women Rainmakers Roundtables, and Corporate Counsel Women of Color.

She adds “There were some, but not a lot of these groups when I entered the profession. It’s refreshing to walk into rooms where women are gathered talking about their careers and building networks. Becoming actively engaged can cut in half the time spent developing comfort and expertise around business development.” And then she says with a laugh, “It’s these groups that allowed me not to have to learn to play to golf. I could take a spa day with women colleagues and clients instead.”

RAJ MADAN

RAJ MADAN

Shareholder
Bingham McCutcheon


Location: Washington, DC
Years Practicing: 20
Practice Area: Tax Litigation

CORRELATION BETWEEN NEUROSIS AND RAINMAKING,” says Raj Madan, a partner in Bingham’s D.C. office. “From what I’ve observed, rainmakers don’t rest on their laurels. After some really great years, I’m already obsessing that our pipeline is growing thin and that we should branch out to another industry. Business development is always on our minds.” A former trial attorney for the Internal Revenue Service, Manhattan District, Madan defends businesses in disputes with the tax agency. Madan, who was born in India but grew up on New York’s Long Island, describes rainmaking as a team effort: “A lot of our clients say they could get good people at the senior level but as a team we’re stronger than others. THe notion of rainmaker sounds singular in focus. In my practice that’s untrue. The fourth-year associate is significant in making sure we keep the business and get new business.”

Successful rainmaking, says Madan, is the result of great work and word-of-mouth buzz, writing and speaking about the kind of work you do and tailored to those who are most likely to hire you. He adds, “But without a little luck, the right mentor, things breaking your way, and being at the right firm, you may never land in the position to rain make. It’s not something you can totally control—a lot of it is serendipitous.”

DARRELL D. MILLER

DARRELL D. MILLER

Partner
Fox Rothschild LLP


Location: Los Angeles, CA
Years Practicing: 23
Practice Area: Entertainment

BEING A RAINMAKING ATTORNEY IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS is not as glamorous or easy as it may seem. “Entertainment law is not all premieres and fancy lunches. Sometimes we don’t get the invite,” says Darrell D. Miller, chair of the entertainment law department and managing partner of Fox Rothschild’s Los Angeles offices. Miller’s practice took off in the 1990s when television networks, led by the emergence of the Fox Broadcast Network, began to widely broadcast shows about African American culture, and hip hop artists were snatching the popular culture limelight from rock stars. Miller initially rode that wave by promoting the crossover careers of high-profile music artists DMX, Outkast, Master P, Missy Elliot, and Ludacris, to name a few. Today, Miller’s practice focuses on film, TV, music, new media, and licensing. Its core is transactional deal making around development, production, distribution, and marketing.

Miller never planned to be a lawyer. A classically trained singer, he traveled the world performing. Then one day, standing on the shore of Chowpatty Beach in India before an evening performance, Miller had an epiphany: He realized he could possibly build on his success as an international performing artist and achieve even more success in the arts from the business side. With that in mind, he went to Georgetown University Law Center. “I spent the last four years at Fox proving the concept that an entertainment-based, strictly transactional practice can exist within a national firm. The next phase will include growing our business model and expanding our practice scope within the department to include areas like video gaming and digital technology.”

YVETTE OSTOLAZA

YVETTE OSTOLAZA

Partner
Weil, Gotshal, Manges LLP


Location: Dallas, TX
Years Practicing: 22
Practice Area: Commercial Litigation, Investigation, Class Actions, and Employment

YVETTE OSTOLAZA BEGAN HER CAREER AS A SUMMER ASSOCIATE IN Weil’s Dallas office and never left. Today she is co-head of the firm’s complex commercial litigation practice and a member of its national management committee. Ostolaza represents boards, companies, and special committees on internal investigations, and because she is fluent in Spanish, advises many Latin American companies on litigation and arbitration matters.

In describing her style of business development, Ostolaza says “I won’t sugarcoat things with clients. My advice is based on a foundation of trust. I take seriously the view of being counselor as well as chief litigator. I view relationships as lifelong and treat them accordingly.” The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Yvette Ostolaza grew up in Miami, Fla., unsure if she would go to college much less law school. But through perseverance and scholarships she obtained an education. After graduating from the University of Miami, she went to work in the airline industry and did well in marketing and sales. There, she first dealt with lawyers and began to think a legal career might be for her. “At law school, I found my calling. Problem solving and thinking far ahead came very naturally to me.”

DONALD S. PROPHETE

DONALD S. PROPHETE

Shareholder
Kirkland & Ellis LLP


Location: Kansas City, MO
Years Practicing: 21
Practice Area: Labor and Employment

“IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS, COMPETITION WITH RESPECT TO LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT has intensified,” says Don Prophete, a rainmaking partner in Littler’s Kansas City office. “It’s harder to acquire a client now than it was then. The pie hasn’t grown much, but the number of players has increased. Today, more general practice fi rms are focusing on labor and employment.” But despite the challenges, Prophete remains on top. (He was featured in Diversity & the Bar’s rainmaker article in 2008.) To maintain existing and new clients, Prophete goes beyond using his substantive skills and delivering wise counsel. He works hard to address the unmet needs (both spoken and unspoken) of his clients. “That’s how I bring in value,” he says. “Eventually a lawyer’s rates will exceed his worth unless he or she is constantly working to elevate their value. If you don’t, clients will feel they’re overpaying.”

To some, the term “rainmaker” connotes an element of magic. “We used to believe that you had to be born with the rainmaker touch,” says Prophete, who has served as lead trial counsel in all types of employment disputes in federal and state courts. “But that’s not true. Anyone who wants to become a strong business developer can with the proper preparation.”

ELIZABETH E. STERN

ELIZABETH E. STERN

Partner
Baker McKenzie


Location: Washington, DC
Years Practicing: 27
Practice Area: Global Immigration and Mobility

LIKE THE MOVEMENT OF GOODS, TECHNOLOGY, AND CAPITAL, THE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE can trigger legal issues. As the rainmaking head of Baker & McKenzie’s global mobility practice, Elizabeth (Liz) Stern helps companies establish global compliance and management programs to move their executive and professional work corps to various locations around the world. When Stern started her practice, she mainly focused on employees entering Western markets. “Today, with corporations expanding in emerging economies, there’s movement in all directions,” she says. Over time it became clear to her that an exclusively inbound practice was not sufficient. As globalization accelerated, her practice needed to adapt.

Early in her career, Stern utilized her legal and language skills handling immigration issues for burgeoning IT companies in the Washington, D.C. area. As the daughter of an Ecuadorian diplomat, Stern’s first language is Spanish even though she was born in the United States. She also speaks French. “I’d wanted to be a trial lawyer,” she recalls. “But I quickly learned that moving people was a huge part of business planning, and I found that I liked business planning much more than fighting disputes in court.” In 2005, she joined Baker & McKenzie. She stresses the importance of having an engaged, service-oriented team. “We manage risk,” she says.

JOSE L. VALERA

JOSE L. VALERA

Partner
Mayer Brown


Location: Houston, TX
Years Practicing: 30
Practice Area: Energy

“YOU’RE NOT HATCHED A RAINMAKER. YOU BECOME ONE as the result of good service and hard work,” says Jose Valera, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Houston office. “And you don’t remain a longtime rainmaker unless you consistently provide excellent service and are a good lawyer at the same time.” Valera, whose practice is focused on domestic and international energy transactions and project development throughout the United States, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, began his legal career in Peru where he attended law school and went to work for a fi rm as local counsel to a Houston-based oil company.

In 1982, he came to Houston to do an unpaid internship for the same client. After two months he was offered a position. Valera accepted. “ e company sponsored me and eventually helped pay for me to go to law school. I got my second J.D. at South Texas College of Law in 1986 and have been in Houston ever since. “When you begin to generate a decent amount of work in a firm,” says Valera, “you gain a higher degree of autonomy with regard to the matters you work on, and how you allocate your time and resources.  at’s important to me. “I don’t play golf with clients. I prefer to share a meal with clients and potential clients. In addition to actual billable time, I also spend time learning and keeping up with the oil industry and international events, and talking to media, writing, and speaking. A rainmaker must be very knowledgeable of the industry in which his or her clients operate.” Does Valera work all the time? Without hesitation, he answers “pretty much.”

BRIAN WINTERFELDT

BRIAN WINTERFELDT

Partner
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP


Location: Washington, DC
Years Practicing: 14
Practice Area: Trademark and Internet Law

IN RAINMAKER BRIAN WINTERFELDT’S LIFE, excellent client service is a top priority. “You’ll never find anyone who will care about your clients the way you do,” he says. “In a global landscape, it’s important to be available to your clients as much as possible, and to take the time to invest in building longterm relationships.” As a trademark partner and head of Katten’s Internet practice, Winterfeldt helps clients create their global trademark and branding strategies, enforce their intellectual property rights, and protect against infringement of their trademarks and other IP assets in the United States and internationally. Being overly aggressive can be counterproductive in the business development space, says Winterfeldt, but he stresses “it’s very important to get out there.” Winterfeldt speaks at conferences (trademark, IP, and diversity) and before industry groups. He also hosts webinars where he and one or more featured inhouse counsel speak to members of the trademark community about cutting-edge issues, such as social media and the expansion of the Internet domain name space.

He also frequently writes for prominent legal publications, such as the World Trademark Review, and holds volunteer leadership positions with the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Winterfeldt credits his measurable success to early mentor Mary Denison, currently deputy commissioner for trademark operations at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “She’d seen senior-level attorneys without their own clients end up in difficult situations, and warned me against being vulnerable in that way. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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