Intellectual Property Partner Discusses the Characteristics of a Rainmaker


Intellectual property partner Karen Johnson-McKewan was recently profiled in Law360’s Rainmaker series. In her interview, she discussed the importance of cultivating relationships and delivering excellent client service. An excerpt from the interview is included below.

Q: How did you become a rainmaker?

A: It’s still a work in progress, and I suspect it always will be. The formula I’ve found useful so far is pretty intuitive. I cultivate genuine friendships with a lot of people, whether or not they are in a position to hire me. I learn their businesses and their industries, and I try to always do excellent work. I am honest with my clients, and I am as user-friendly as anyone. My clients know I put their interests first, and that I put heart and soul into the work I do for them. They know I lie awake at night working through solutions to their problems, and that I do my best to make them look brilliant for hiring me. I trust them to help me look good with my partners, and to speak well of me when their friends are making decisions about who to hire. I make them laugh. I also make friends with my competitors; they often refer matters to me as to which they have conflicts, and I do the same for them. When I speak at conferences, I try to be memorable. It’s not rocket science. It all boils down to building relationships and doing excellent work.

A couple of years ago, I found myself consistently pitching for work against a woman at another firm. Sometimes I won the pitches and sometimes she did. She and I didn’t know one another, but I thought we should meet, so I invited her to speak at one of Orrick’s Successful Women in IP conferences and have since gotten to know one another a little better. When she had a conflict representing a client earlier this year, she referred the client to me! That client has since hired my firm for multiple matters. And I’ve referred conflicts work back to her. We have each expanded our networks that way, simply by doing something that came naturally to both of us.​