Deal work isn’t just about substance. Style points will help you go far, at least according to Jim Woolery of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. In an interview he gave to the Dallas Morning News (gavel bang: ABA Journal), Woolery explains that his success is due in part to his ability to look like a New Yorker but talk like a Texan:
“They like me in Texas because I’m from this fancy New York law firm, but I talk Texan,” says the 40-year-old partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. “When [Dallas attorney] Phil Smith from McKool Smith tells me, ‘Things are going to get Westerned,’ I know he means things are going to get sideways or upside down.”
My friends, this is why it is important to have diversity in the partnership ranks. Sometimes you need a guy like Woolery to make that special Love Connection.
Just how much has Woolery’s western charm been worth to Cravath?
Interestingly enough, Woolery is able to cowboy up even though he’s not from Texas. He’s from Kentucky and received his J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
First George W. Bush, now Jim Woolery. Who knew that Texas was so susceptible to cultural carpetbagging?
Woolery’s homespun style has earned Cravath a lot of money:
Woolery gets along in these parts largely because he’s a small-town Kentucky lawyer’s son disguised in designer Manhattan pinstripes.
“A lot of the things that I learned from my father you can bring to bear in a big New York firm,” Woolery says. “That’s the real distinction between me and the classic New York lawyer.”
But he gets paid like one.
Cravath gets a percentage of each completed transaction. Although the firm doesn’t disclose numbers, by industry norms Woolery and his M&A group have probably brought in about $100 million in revenue from Texas deals in the last five years.
You work what you have; it’s a good lesson.
N.Y. lawyer swings Texas-size buyouts [Dallas Morning News]
Cravath Lawyer Credits Talking Texan for M&A Successes [ABA Journal]