What does it take to become a successful lawyer in your particular niche or practice area? In a series of in-depth interviews for the Estrin Report, Chere Estrin profiles top lawyers from all types of practices. In this column, we zero in on their top tips. This week, we feature Glenn Hendrix, chairman of Arnall Golden Gregory in Atlanta.
Glenn Hendrix has been described by his peers as “the chairperson you wish to have.” Glenn prides himself on being “determined, efficient and effective.” In addition to being the chairman of Arnall Golden Gregory, his law practice involves representing companies in government investigations and federal False Claims Act cases. He also handles a range of cross-border business disputes and often serves as an arbitrator. What does Hendrix believe attorneys need to be at the top of their field?
Five Things You Need to Become a Top Lawyer
1. Know your client’s business and industry.
For False Claims Act cases, you must know the regulatory environment in which your clients live. That gives you a leg up. In these types of cases, the right approach usually shows the government portraying an issue as black and white, when in reality it’s usually quite gray.
To do that, you have to have a pretty broad understanding of the various government guidance, how it has been issued, how it has evolved, and how some of it might be conflicting. You need to know where to look to find that information.
We’ve had cases where the government would allege fraud because too much rehabilitation therapy was being provided to patients in nursing homes. As you can imagine, there are a lot of conflicting views on that. How much therapy is too much?
You need to know where to go to find other sources within the government that would indicate that maybe they aren’t providing enough therapy. Or maybe the government is reading the standards wrong. Someone might be the best advocate in the world, but without that background they’re going to miss key arguments.
2. Not just knowing an industry but becoming a part of it is critical.
You want to be a full-fledged member of your client’s “industry or tribe.”
3. Have cases and clients you genuinely care about.
If you’re not personally invested in the outcome, you should find another line of work.
4. Be able to let things go once the matter is over.
Not every case will go your way. If you can’t handle a loss, you’ll be too risk-averse to fight the fights your clients need and want you to fight. You learn from your mistakes, but like a pitcher who blows a save to lose a baseball game, you have to be able to move on.
5. Family support.
My wife of 37 years and I have five kids. Neither she nor any of them knows much about my cases or what I do day in and day out. I like it that way. My family is my refuge.
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