fivehundred magazine > Interview with... > Brad Karp: I don’t sleep much!

Brad Karp: I don’t sleep much!

Brad Karp: I don’t sleep much! interview image

Brad Karp explains how he finds the time to bill so many hours, run a top-level law firm and still be meet with firm clients every day

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is firm culture to you?

The Paul, Weiss culture is grounded in our shared values of professionalism, collaboration and deep mutual respect. We value transparency and collegiality, and we share a longstanding and passionate commitment to diversity,
pro bono and public service. Our commitment to inclusion has been at the heart of our firm since it was founded. Our professional, old-fashioned culture is one of our biggest differentiators in the market and is the “glue” that binds
our Paul, Weiss family together.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm in the past few years that will benefit clients?

Over the past decade, we have redoubled our strategic focus on five core practice areas that are critically important to our clients and where we believe we have a competitive advantage: private equity, public company M&A, litigation, white collar and regulatory defense, and restructuring.

In addition, we have made massive investments in technology—AI, data analytics, predictive coding and document automation tools—that have already paid enormous dividends for our clients, resulted in substantial cost savings, and enabled us to provide high-quality legal representation most efficiently and effectively.

As a chairman who is billing a huge number of hours, running a top-level firm and meeting with firm clients every day, what everyone wants to know – how on earth do you manage it all?!

I don’t sleep much! Seriously, though, I couldn’t handle these responsibilities without the incredible support of my partners and my management team. Day to day, I rely a great deal on the firm’s Deputy Chair, Valerie Radwaner, who shares my vision of the Paul, Weiss culture and leads a number of strategic initiatives that will drive continued success for our firm and our clients, and our unparalleled Executive Director, Eric Sekler, who leads our firm operations.

Differentiation is critical to buyers of legal services – how do you stand apart from the rest of the market?

Paul, Weiss lawyers are extraordinarily talented and dedicated to client service. We have the best, the brightest, most dedicated and hardest-working lawyers of any law firm, anywhere. Our depth of talent and experience in each of our five core practices may be our biggest competitive advantage.

Second, our firm offers unparalleled client service. We constantly strive to exceed our clients’ expectations. At a time when institutional relationships are eroding, our partners are constantly working to strengthen and expand their relationships with clients and to understand our clients’ commercial and other needs.

Third, we are practical problem solvers. We recognize that legal principles
need to be used to achieve real-world business objectives and that legal
advice needs to be pragmatic and commercial. We thrive in the realm of complexity and consistently develop unique strategies and practical solutions
to meet our clients’ needs. Our culture is another differentiator. Our shared values, and professional collaboration, lead to seamless service and redound to our clients’ benefit.

What do you think are the top three things most clients want and why?

Above all else, clients demand consistently high-quality performance
and successful results. That’s a baseline. We defend clients against franchise-threatening litigations and regulatory enforcement matters as well as handling transformative business transactions, where success is the only option.
Second, clients require practical, commercial advice and a compelling value proposition. Clients expect their legal advisors to identify the key drivers of value in each litigation or transaction, to help them spot business opportunities and to offer solutions tailored to their commercial objectives.

Third, clients demand extraordinary client service and a real partnership with their outside counsel. They require responsiveness and transparency from counsel who are immersed in the details of their business and who can
achieve their business goals.

What have you found is the best way to retain talent – both at partner and associate levels?

The best way to retain talent is to constantly reinforce and refresh the cultural “glue” that ties our lawyers to the firm. At a time of vastly increased partner mobility, we are continually focused on how best to ensure that Paul, Weiss continues to be a firm where our lawyers truly enjoy practicing law in a collaborative, supportive and professional environment. So, for example, when we promote or bring in talent, we assess whether that person shares our values. Beyond that, we pay close attention to the needs and desires of our younger generation of lawyers and take that into account in developing firm strategies. Finally, the work we handle is a key ingredient to retaining talent. We are fortunate that we represent the most important clients in the world in their most important matters.

Since becoming chairman, what has surprised you most, either internally or externally?

As Paul, Weiss has increasingly become the public face of critical issues involving social justice, such as the private bar’s efforts to curtail gun violence and our response to the Administration’s assault on immigrants, I have been gratified by the level of engagement and commitment by my colleagues at the firm and across the profession.

For example, when I requested support to deal with the immigrant crisis, my colleagues responded immediately, from my senior partners, who showed up at the airport immediately after President Trump announced his first travel ban early last year, to scores of Paul, Weiss associates, who have worked nonstop since early July to locate parents separated from their children at the U.S. border. Externally, as word spread about a New York Times op-ed I co-authored with a fellow law firm chair challenging the Administration’s family separation policy, I was overwhelmed that so many law firm leaders wanted to be involved and share their resources. Clients have also reached out to learn how they can help those damaged by the policy. It was inspiring to see such profound generosity and collaboration to address an assault on our rule of law.