Firm business

How I Created the Office Managing Partner: “Learn what a law firm does and establish your own vision of its success,” says Nicole Brennig of DLA Piper

Nicole Brennig, 44, DLA Piper, Austin, TX

Title: Managing Partner of the Austin office.

Area of ​​practice: Corporate (investment funds).

Law school and year of graduation: Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

How long have you been in the office? Three years.

Nicole Brennig/courtesy photo

In what year were you promoted to Office Managing Partner? I was promoted to co-managing partner of the office in December 2019 and more recently became the sole managing partner of the office.

Were you a partner at another firm before joining your current firm? I was a partner at Jackson Walker for several years. I joined DLA Piper in March 2018.

What is the biggest surprise you had when you became Office Managing Partner? Most of my first year as co-managing partner was spent managing the office in relation to the pandemic, and I was impressed by the amount of energy from the top of the company to caring about our people and making sure they were in the best position to serve our customers. I was also front and center for the resilience of our people and their ability to pivot as fast as they did and dig in and get the client’s job done at the same level as before COVID. It continues to impress me.

In your opinion, what was the decisive point for the firm in the appointment of your office managing partner? I think part of that was the desire of corporate management to have people in leadership positions who are diverse, entrepreneurial, and offer different perspectives. Culturally, it is a company that is not rigid in this respect. There’s no mindset that we’re only going to promote you if you have the biggest volume of business or if you’ve been around the longest.

What do you think is the key to successful business development? “Take a long-term approach! Successful business development is about building strong relationships over a long period of time. Many of my clients are contacts and references during my career. You want to take the time to connect and really listen to your clients, colleagues, and even opposing attorneys. »

Who has had the greatest influence in your career that propelled you to office managing partner? David Parrish, a DLA Piper partner here in Austin, has been my relentless champion since I joined his team nearly 10 years ago. David is an incredible leader. Despite managing an incredibly successful global law firm and a team of nearly 30 lawyers, he takes the time to understand the goals of everyone on his team and then works tirelessly to ensure we achieve those goals. I spend a lot of time thinking about the things he did to build the team around him, and how I can emulate that and pay it forward.

What is the best advice you could give to an associate who wants to rise to the rank of corporate leadership? Get involved and take the time to get to know as many people as possible. I think people sometimes tend to say, “Well, I wasn’t asked to do it, or I’d like to do it, but no one is asking me…” but you can’t just sit down and wait for the invitation. You have to put yourself forward and get involved, even if it’s initially a less publicized opportunity than you would like. Take that first step. Also take the time to learn about running a law firm. A law firm is much more than lawyers who charge for hours. A law firm is a business. Learn about this company and establish your own vision of its success.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing today’s leaders in the legal industry?Austin is a growing and changing city, and I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge as much as an opportunity. DLA Piper already has such an ingrained presence in the business community here, and I think that puts us in a really unique position. There are a lot of law firms moving here, but they don’t have the history and the connections that we have in Austin. It’s up to us to thread the needle to be the best place to work and provide exceptional customer service, which is above all else.

Plus, we’ll figure out how we get back to the office and make sure we maintain our amazing office culture while giving people the autonomy to decide when, how, and where they work best. It may seem like a challenge right now, but I think it will fall into place naturally when we see what a post-pandemic world looks like.

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