NAME: Kathleen Wu
FIRM: Andrews Kurth LLP
ADDRESS: 1717 Main Street, Suite 3700,
Dallas, TX 75201
PHONE: (214) 659-4448
PRACTICE AREA: Real Estate
Interviewed By: Janet Craig Holland
Nominated By: Deborah McMurray
Most Successful/Favorite Rainmaking tip:
I would have to say my only rainmaking device—and
I hesitate to call it that—is my firm’s
periodic executive women’s retreats. Every couple
of years, we invite our female clients and senior female
lawyers to a weekend of pampering, panel discussions,
great food, etc. While it does result in new business
for our firm, the bigger benefit is to our younger women
lawyers, who are able to connect with clients on a level
they wouldn’t otherwise.
As a rule, I don’t do “marketing.”
My best business development “tip,” if you
can call it that, is to be the best lawyer you can possibly
be. My own personal mantra is that competence begets
confidence, and confidence inspires trust. When clients
trust you, they are apt to hire you more often.
Biggest influence on career/best career advice:
By far, the best advice I ever got was “don’t
ever let them see you cry.” This came from a man
who had seen young women lawyers cry and, later, heard
those women berated for it behind their backs. Granted,
we may want to cry several times a day, but we should
never give them the satisfaction of seeing us actually
Percentage of time devoted to marketing:
Zero. And 100 percent. Zero, because—our retreats
aside—I never do anything I consider to be marketing.
I’m not a great party schmoozer, and I don’t
play golf. And 100 percent because I consider that I’m
selling myself—proving my worth—from the
minute I sit down at my desk in the morning until I
go home at night. I honestly give my clients my all,
and they know that.
Staying in the game when many others dropped out. And
my son, Grant.
Knowing what you know now, if you were starting
out as a lawyer today, what would you do differently?
I know this is the kind of thing Madonna says, but
it’s true: all of the bad things I went through
as a young, fearful lawyer were good for me. Every time
I kept working on something for fear the partner in
charge of the project would rip my head off if there
was a comma out of place, it made me a better lawyer.
I wouldn’t change any of it, because it made me
who I am today.
Tell me about one rainmaking strategy or tactic
that you initially thought would work, but it failed.
Why did it fail?
I have no rainmaking strategies—besides working
my tail off and reaping the benefits from that work—so
I really don’t have any that failed.
Tell me about one rainmaking strategy or tactic
that you initially thought would fail, but it was a
great success. Why was it successful?
You don’t have to have a strategy to be successful.
I’m the queen of no strategy. My will and determination
and expertise are what got me where I am today. I think
of “rainmakers” as the guy on the golf course,
and that’s obviously not me. Whatever “strategy”
a lawyer comes up with has to feel comfortable. My own
personal path is simply blowing them away with competence
and strength of will. I don’t have to prove myself
every time I enter a room anymore, but back when I did,
I was always the most prepared person in the room. Worked
What has been your greatest frustration about
trying to get new business or new clients?
I don’t know that this applies exclusively to
new clients, but perhaps the two most frustrating things
these days is managing my clients’ expectations
with regard to costs, and adjusting to the faster, faster,
faster mentality. Everybody expects things instantaneously
these days. What lawyers bring to the table, though,
is the ability to think problems through. We don’t
just press a button and produce a contract that will
thoroughly protect a client. We stop and think and give
our clients the benefit of our legal knowledge and our
experience. That takes time, and the pace of work today
doesn’t always allow for that kind of time.
If you were mentoring a young woman lawyer,
what advice would you give her regarding rainmaking?
First, that one size does not fit all. What works for
your colleague—be it after hours dinners or golf
outings—may not work for you. Second, that all
the drinks and golf games in the world won’t matter
if you aren’t a crack lawyer. Spend as much time
and effort as you can becoming as good as the best lawyer
you’ve ever met, and, once you start exuding the
confidence you’ve earned from that competence,
the clients will follow.
Would you say you ever had a mentor that made
a genuine difference in how your career turned out?
If yes, please describe.
I never had a mentor, per se. I don’t believe
that you can force a relationship like that, and none
emerged naturally during the course of my career. However,
I made it a habit to watch how great lawyers did their
job—how they solved problems, instilled confidence,
commanded a room, etc.—and I tried to apply those
“best practices” to my work.
Think about when you started out as a lawyer.
Now think about the new female lawyers just starting
out. What is different now compared to when you started?
Young lawyers want and expect to have some kind of
balance in their lives, and that’s definitely
a change from when I started. I may have wanted
it, but I certainly didn’t expect it. And I definitely
didn’t get it. There does seem to be more institutional
sensitivity to work/family issues, and to the need to
recruit and retain women lawyers, but there is still
quite a bit of sexism out there being practiced by individual
lawyers. I don’t know that that will ever go away.
How would you like others to describe you:
Tenacious, pragmatic, strong, resourceful.
Janet Craig Holland interviewed Ms. Wu for this article.Janet
serves asExecutive Director - Litigation Management,
for LLM, Inc., a Web-based litigation management company
based in San Antonio, Texas, providing efficient case
and trial management solutions nationally. Janet can
be reached at email@example.com
or 877-820-8308 Ext. 5 or you can visit their Web site
ABA Women Rainmakers is a national forum enabling women
to network and develop business opportunities. By understanding
how to develop business, women can exert greater control
over their careers and integrate their personal lives
successfully with the practice of law. For more information
on LPM Women Rainmakers, visit www.womenrainmakers.org.