How I Made Partner: ‘Think Proactively,’ Advises Desmarais’ Ameet Modi

Climbing Photo: Shutterstock

Office: San Francisco.

Practice area: Intellectual property litigation.

Law school and year of graduation: Columbia Law School, 2008.

How long have you been at the firm? 10 years.

How long were you an associate at the firm? 6 years.

Were you an associate at another firm before joining your present firm? Yes, at Kirkland & Ellis (New York) for approximately 2 years. I left in June 2010 to join Desmarais.

What year did you make partner at your current firm? 2017.

Ameet Modi. Ameet Modi. Courtesy photo.

What’s the biggest surprise you experienced in becoming partner? The time and resources necessary to manage a law firm on a day-to-day basis. It was (and remains) helpful to have the guidance of my other partners to balance those responsibilities with the responsibilities of the substantive legal work—which also became greater and more challenging as a partner.

What do you think was the deciding point for the firm in making you partner?  I think it was a combination of demonstrating reliability and the initiative to “own” aspects of my cases as much as possible. As an associate, I tried to approach every task with the mindset of being the subject matter expert on the particular issue, and—importantly—getting it done within the requested timeframe, or clearly communicating to others if that wasn’t possible. I think consistently demonstrating those skills over the course of several years was probably important to show that, as a partner, I could both run cases effectively and generate new business for the firm.

Describe how you feel now about your career now that you’ve made partner. One of the most fulfilling aspects of my career is that I’ve known many of my colleagues for eight years or more, and we’ve become very close as a result. It’s fun to reflect on the fact that several of my then-fellow junior associates are now my partners, and that we’ve taken this journey together in helping to develop the firm from its early days.

What’s the key to successful business development in your opinion? I try to always keep in mind that we are in the business of helping people. To do that, you have to demonstrate that you are the kind of person (or firm) that someone wants to work with—that you share the same values and goals—and that you will take the time to understand and be responsive to your clients’ needs. I think it is similar, in many ways, to what is important in establishing and maintaining successful personal connections and relationships.

What’s been the biggest change, day-to-day, in your routine since becoming partner? I’m thinking much more about the long term, both in terms of the success of our clients and the success of the firm. For each of our clients’ cases, I try to start every day thinking proactively about the ultimate strategy for a favorable resolution—and then making sure that everything the team is doing moves the ball forward in that regard. As a partner, I also actively participate in the management of the firm, including through my work on the firm’s recruiting and diversity committees. Every day, I am working to make sure that we continue to have the best and brightest people from all backgrounds as part of our team.

Why did you decide to practice at an elite boutique firm? I joined the firm in 2010 one month after it opened its doors. It was a unique opportunity to be a part of building an entirely new firm culture, while still working directly with the most talented litigators and on the most significant cases in the intellectual property field. I’m thrilled that, now 10 years later, everything has exceeded my expectations. I’m really proud of the wins that we have secured along the way, and—more importantly—the privilege of getting to work with the truly wonderful staff and attorneys that make Desmarais what it is today.

Check out more career advancement advice and insights on ALM’s Professionals Network, on LinkedIn. We are excited about this pivotal group. Click here to join[1].


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