The series asks leaders at top law firms what skills are necessary to be a rainmaker for their firm, including not only how they attract clients but how they develop the client relationship and how they maintain their status as a rainmaker over time.
According to Mary Emma, it is essential for an attorney to foster an attitude of service to their client. “It is through caring about the client – their hopes, dreams and mission – which makes me a better lawyer and representative of their interests.” Being well prepared and informed about the client and their industry before that first meeting helps Mary Emma focus on what the client needs. That attitude of service and a strong sense of caring can fuel the tenacity and persistence it might take to bring in a new client. It also serves as a foundation for making pro bono work a priority. Mary Emma personally contributes over 200 hours in pro bono work each year and notes that while she does the work without expectation of a return, some of her best clients have come to her after noticing her work in the community.
Mary Emma advises aspiring rainmakers beginning their law careers, “Build relationships. It really is that simple. Get out of your office, meet people to start and cultivate relationships. . . . Clients want to hire people they know and trust.” Even when buried in work, she urges young lawyers to make time for business development as an investment in their long-term career. She also advises that they diversify their client base so their practice remains strong as industries and the economy fluctuate.
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About Mary Emma
Mary Emma is a partner in Jackson Walker’s Dallas office, the Chairwoman of Business Development and Marketing for the firm, and the mother of six. She is a healthcare lawyer and recognized authority in managed care law with over 30 years’ experience practicing law. She serves as outside general counsel to several entities and served a term as outside counsel to the Texas Attorney General’s office. She also advises employers on the contracts that make up their employee health benefit offerings, as well as other entities on strategic decisions that involve the healthcare industry. Recently, she was named one of 2016’s Top 15 Business Women of Dallas by the National Women’s Council.