Q: What skill was most important for you in becoming a rainmaker?
A: Diligence is the most important skill that an attorney can bring to bear when engaging with and serving a client. One must be diligent in learning the legal issues facing potential clients, as well as understanding their underlying business objectives and where they sit within the industry in which they operate. Immersion in our clients’ industries, which requires developing an intimate understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented within each sector, enables my team to provide legal advice in support of our clients’ business goals. Collaborating with our clients, we use our extensive knowledge of the law, industry insight and comprehensive research to develop effective strategies and solutions.
Q: How do you prepare a pitch for a potential new client?
A: Too many attorneys, and firms, focus on the legal issues alone when executing a pitch. They assume that if the potential client perceives the lawyer as a legal expert, they are likely to get the business. This approach seems incomplete. Clients want counsel who thoroughly understands their business and who, because of industry expertise, will be able to carefully anticipate how each transaction or litigation will play out over time. Performing a deep dive into a company’s business model and industry segment in advance of a pitch will help win business.
Q: Share an example of a time when landing a client was especially difficult, and how you handled it.
A: In my experience, it is most “difficult” to land a client where multiple firms are pitching for the client’s business, and those firms continuously cut their proposed budgets to secure the work. We painstakingly set our budgets and thus generally do not play this game in order to chase business. Either we are the right fit, or we are not.
What motivates you to build a successful law firm?
I’m driven by the opportunity to build an innovative, entrepreneurial law firm. We have a great team that works on an “okay to fail” model. It allows us to continually try new initiatives so that we are delivering exceptional service and legal counsel to our clients. Because of this, every day is new, exciting and rewarding.
What do you look for in new members of your team?
A strong work ethic, intelligence and problem solving skills are the three top qualifications. At the most fundamental level, our firm’s mission it to provide excellent client service. We look for people whose goals and values align with this principle. Also, we want people who intend to retire from M&R. We want to know that our decision-makers are in it for the long haul.
Inspirery is a interview website “where entrepreneurs all over the world [can] tell their stories: how they started, what challenges they face, and how they are successfully marketing themselves.” Today, Insirery published an interview with Sanford Michelman about his hiring practices:
To what degree do you keep your finger on the pulse of hiring for your ventures?
Internally, I am directly involved with hiring at the C-Suite and Senior Management level, and trust that those individuals will be smart, savvy and resourceful in filling other positions at the Firm. I also keep up on the latest issues that impact hiring—whether it’s having a handle on the millennial mindset or being cognizant of diversity issues. Externally, it’s important to know what’s trending in the industries we service. For example, is an industry going more tech-heavy? Or, outsourcing more? It’s good to have a 360 degree vantage point on hiring trends when you run a law firm.
Yesterday we blogged about the widespread coverage of David Lowery’s class action lawsuit against Spotify for releasing copyrighted material without first obtaining proper licenses from artists. We followed up that post with an All Things Considered NPR piece on the subject. Much more has been written on the Spotify lawsuit over the last day including the following articles that quote Sanford Michelman:
In 2012, Lawdragon interviewed Sanford as part of it’s Lawyer Limelight series, which “features discussions with top practitioners, including corporate counsel, law firm stars, leaders in academia, public interest lawyers and more.” Below are a few questions and answers from the piece:
Lawdragon: What were some of the biggest challenges of the early days?
Sanford Michelman: Finding the extra few hours a day. We have been fortunate in that we were able to have very talented lawyers join us early on and support from our clients. We never really faced any significant challenges, other than maintaining the quality of our work.
LD: What advice would you give lawyers interested in doing the same?
SM: Make sure it is something you really want to do. It is a tug of war between being a practicing lawyer and operating a business. It requires tremendous hours, patience, and a long view towards where you want the firm to go. Finally, I would say that with every hire, make sure it is a cultural fit – don’t chase business originators in any way that may sacrifice your culture. Define your culture and make that you do not deviate from it.