Law360, New York (July 19, 2013, 9:58 AM ET) — A partner at Bailey Brauer PLLC, Clayton E. Bailey relies on his 17 years of trial experience to guide clients in complex commercial litigation and appeals, and provide customized expertise to clients in the agribusiness industry.
Renowned for his candid, plain-spoken advice, Clayton Bailey has litigated, tried and appealed cases involving contract disputes, business torts, RICO, ERISA, employment law, trade secrets, deceptive trade practices, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, antitrust and wrongful death, and has successfully defended against putative class actions. His work on a Packers and Stockyards Act case not only benefitted his client, but also resulted in an influential appellate ruling that cemented the law protecting the entire agribusiness industry.
A member of the Litigation Counsel of America and the Trial Law Institute, Bailey has been selected numerous times for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers and was highlighted as the “Appellate Lawyer of the Week” by Texas Lawyer for his work as lead appellate counsel in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Previously, Bailey was a partner at Baker & McKenzie, where he was the leader of the Dallas office’s litigation section. He graduated with honors from SMU Dedman School of Law.
Q: How did you become a rainmaker?
It boils down to satisfaction, success and security.
Satisfaction: I enjoy being around people, and I love helping them resolve problems they had assumed were unresolvable. I also enjoy the point in every process when you have mastered a topic and are then able to transfer into a “creative” stage, developing new ideas that advance an issue to a new level.
Rainmaking allows me to be around people and be creative. Whether it’s networking at an event, having a meal or drink with someone, or making a pitch, I am meeting new people or solidifying existing relationships. And during these discussions, we share ideas about resolving problems or preventing other issues from arising. I almost always bring with me presentations that I’ve designed for the client, and I always follow up by sending materials, copies of relevant opinions or articles from newspapers or magazines.
Success: I’ve always known that it was necessary to develop business to succeed. The law is a profession, but it is also a business. And to remain in business, lawyers must be busy with other people’s business.
I had the good fortune to be an associate at two law firms and an equity partner at one of the world’s largest firms. Both firms were comprised of talented lawyers, but knowing the law is simply not enough to distinguish yourself. Consequently, in addition to learning the law, I focused on being entrepreneurial.
When I lateraled from my first firm to Baker & McKenzie during my fourth year as a lawyer, I already had a book of business that allowed me to be virtually independent. By my third year at Baker & McKenzie, I became a non-equity partner and then soon afterward rose to the ranks of equity partner in 2010.
Security: Developing new clients and maintaining and building on existing relationships is the heart-and-soul of ensuring that the lights remain on, your colleagues remain employed, and your family is taken care of.
Q: How do you stay a rainmaker?
It’s a constant process. I always ask, “How can I bring value to an existing or future client and do it in a distinctive way that they’ll always remember?” I’m a voracious reader and love newspapers, so the first thing I do in the morning is read the paper. I’m always on the lookout for articles that my clients would be interested in, and I forward them anything I think might be relevant so that the first thing they see when they turn on their computer is an email from me in their inbox. At the end of the day, I’ll do the same with books or magazines. If I’ve read a book that one of my clients would love — or should read — ’ve been known to order it for them. And I always follow up with them about the article or book.
I also do lunchtime webinars for clients or potential clients just about once a quarter. It’s a cost effective way to show how we provide value to existing and future clients. My goal is to not only teach these folks what’s going on in their area, but it’s also a way to show that I’m thinking of them and that they’re at the front of my mind.
I also try to never eat alone, whether that’s having breakfast, lunch or dinner with a client, potential client or a colleague. And if I travel to see a client, I try to see somebody else in the area.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring rainmaker?
A: Doing great legal work and being responsive to your clients is, of course, a given. But beyond that, remember that you never know where your next piece of business is going to come from. I took a pro bono case in JP court several years ago, and I worked incredibly hard for that client. A few months later, my pro bono client passed my name on to a businesswoman who ended up paying us about $350,000 in legal fees. Never think that someone you meet can’t help you. Accountants, experts, small businesses –they’re all potential sources of business. I know a lot of lawyers who will go to an event and, unless there are general counsel in the room, they’re out of there. That’s a mistake.
The other thing young lawyers need to do is invest in their careers. I know a lot of lawyers who, unless their law firm is paying for it, won’t attend a conference or take a business trip. But those expenses are merely investments in your future, and they’re well worth making. Whatever gets you in front of clients, potential clients and referring attorneys is money well-spent.
Q: Tell us a tale of landing a big client.
A: Never assume that you don’t have a shot at work. In one case, I had worked for many years with a major company. I poured my heart and soul into their work, I knew everything about them and was well acquainted with many, many people at the company, from file clerks to upper management.
Unfortunately, the company went into bankruptcy and they were purchased by a company with whom I had no preexisting relationship. Typically, when one company is purchased by another company, that’s a death knell for the existing counsel. But, in this case, I had had such a strong relationship with the company that I was kept on — and that wasn’t the case with almost all the other lawyers who had worked for the company before the buyout. That experience taught me that you’ve got to love the one you’re with. In this case, it paid huge dividends and I’m honored to continue to represent them to this day.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.
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