Law360, New York (August 28, 2013, 12:44 PM ET) — Alexander M. Brauer is a founding partner of Bailey & Brauer PLLC in Dallas, Texas. He represents businesses and individuals in various high-stakes litigation matters. He has successfully litigated and tried cases in federal and state courts throughout Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada. Brauer also has a stellar record representing clients in appeals before the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and various Texas state intermediate appellate courts.
Because of his success, Alex Brauer has been consistently recognized as a Texas Rising Star, as published in Thompson Reuters, every year since 2010. Brauer also serves on numerous committees such as the Dallas Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee and Fee Disputes Committee. He graduated cum laude from Florida State University and from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as executive editor of a law journal.
Brauer’s practice focuses on defending and prosecuting complex commercial litigation matters involving claims of fraud, breach of contract, business torts, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, deceptive trade practices, theft of trade secrets, RICO, antitrust, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Packers and Stockyards Act. He has successfully defended against class and collective actions, and also represents parties in complex tort matters, including negligence and wrongful death cases.
Q: How did you become a rainmaker?
A: Doing exceptional work and providing extraordinary service, from day one, is the price of entry. And that’s the case whether you’re working directly for a client or you’re doing work for other attorneys at your firm. If a lawyer refers work to me for the first time, I’m just as concerned with doing a great job so that attorney will look good and continue to refer me business as I am with doing a great job for the client.
The most recent example of this was a call I received several months back from a colleague at my former firm. He was looking to refer a fairly small matter (by his firm’s standards) for a Canadian client with an issue in Texas. I was able to take the case on a flat fee basis and I gave it the same level of attention I give to my much larger matters. We resolved the matter to the client’s satisfaction and I’ve already been retained again on a larger dispute for the client.
Q: How do you stay a rainmaker?
A: Being at a boutique firm has definitely been a positive when it comes to rainmaking. We have the flexibility to take on clients and matters that larger firms can’t justify with their billing rates or are conflicted out of taking. We can also be much more responsive to clients’ requests for alternative billing arrangements (such as the flat fee on the Canadian matter). Being able to offer that kind of flexibility makes us much more attractive to mid-size clients who still have significant legal work. And we can certainly grow as their needs grow.
The other main ingredient to generating business is constant contact with those people who either have been a source of business or who have the potential to be a source of business. The vast majority of my work is referred to me by other lawyers. At first, that surprised me, but there are any number of reasons a lawyer can’t take a case — it’s not that lawyer’s specialty, a client conflict, lack of time, etc. So I want to be the lawyer other lawyers think of when they’re looking to refer business. I do that by having lunch with them, calling, emailing and just generally trying to stay top-of-mind with the lawyers I know.
My goal is to have three to five contacts a week with clients, potential clients and other lawyers. I have found that, for face-to-face meetings, lunch is the most productive because getting together for drinks or dinner after work is hard to schedule. But any kind of contact is critical for staying on people’s radar. I also make sure to send a thank you gift of some kind to my referral sources. It may just be a bottle of wine, but I want them to know I appreciate them thinking of me. And, whenever possible, I reciprocate with business referrals on my end.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring rainmaker?
A: Meet as many people as possible, particularly people who may be potential clients. But don’t limit yourself. I’ve been referred clients from some unlikely sources, such as friends who have friends with a legal problem. One other thing: You’re not just making an impression when you’re being a lawyer. You’re doing that in whatever you do, so if you’re involved with a sports league, a volunteer job, or a bar committee, everything you do is telegraphing what kind of lawyer you are — how trustworthy, how organized, how responsive and how conscientious you are.
In other words, people assume, rightly or wrongly, that if you’re organized on a dinner planning committee, you’ll also be organized in your law practice. In all those social and nonsocial settings, put to use all those qualities you want people to associate with your legal practice. If you’re lax because it’s just a social club, people will assume, “If he can’t put a dinner together, how can he handle a big case?” I captain a men’s tennis team here in Dallas and three of my teammates are now clients. I think the way they originally gained confidence and trust in me was how I captained the team.
Q: Tell us a tale of landing a big client.
A: When I was at another firm, a colleague referred me a matter for one of his transactional clients. It was a small, personal dispute that wasn’t over a lot of money, but it was important to the client for nonfinancial reasons. I handled the work for him and he was so happy with my work that I now handle all of his personal litigation matters. In fact, he’s one of my biggest clients. Even though the original dispute wasn’t a high-dollar piece of litigation, I treated it seriously and now I’m handling multimillion- dollar disputes for him. The moral of the story is you have to treat every deal, transaction, lawsuit and dispute seriously because you never know where it might lead. One particular dispute may not be important or “big enough” to you, but it may be very important to your client because of principle, emotional or other reasons.
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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