For sustainable business growth, building and maintaining strong client relationships is most important. Strong relationships allow businesses to focus their resources on developing new strategies for success. Gloria Lee works closely with clients to involve experienced legal counsel to address a wide range of legal issues for strategic growth of business development opportunities.
Gloria serves as the Client Relations Partner at Rutan & Tucker, LLP, where she implements new and creative initiatives for developing client relationship initiatives for the firm. Her dedication and expertise in her work have been recognized and honored with several national and state awards for her legal skills and her community advocacy.
We at CIO LOOK caught up with Gloria in our quest to seek “The 20 Most Successful Businesswomen to Watch, 2021.” We talked with her to get more insights into her work and understand how she has made her mark in the industry.
Below are the highlights of the interview.
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Rutan & Tucker. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
I graduated from Stanford University in 1999, the early days of the internet. I worked at an educational start-up which was later sold to Kaplan. I loved working in an entrepreneurial start-up environment and advising families, so I decided to attend law school at UC Berkeley to continue counseling companies and businesses.
I worked at a large real estate firm to help with the development of financing of real estate projects in California. I was fortunate to have a great network of colleagues and friends that helped me through the various downturns in the economy and real estate cycles.
In my prior roles, the requirement to be behind your desk doing client work while actively networking to develop a book of business was challenging, especially for me because I had difficult pregnancies and was trying to raise two young children in a client service industry. Fortunately, the organic relationships I invested in through bar associations, non-profit organizations, and other networking groups paid off into business development opportunities. After about ten years of legal practice, my current firm Rutan allowed me to create a unique role as its Chief Business Development Officer, originating clients for the firm and connecting the business community to new opportunities.
Tell us something more about Rutan & Tucker and its mission and vision.
Rutan is one of the largest full-service law firms in California, with approximately 150 attorneys in Orange County and Silicon Valley. We advise clients from start-up companies to multi-national corporations with middle-market corporate and real estate transactions, litigation, employment, and intellectual property matters.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the law practice niche through your expertise in the market?
Prior to my new role as a Client Relations Partner at Rutan, it was not very common to have designated business development officers at law firms. Instead, practicing lawyers were responsible for growing their own individual practices. The success of Rutan’s investment in a role like mine where I provide a platform for the entire firm by curating industry-specific events and roundtables and coordinate initiatives for the entire firm has been getting noticed, and in the past few years, I have seen more firms invest in business development roles both with lawyers and marketing professionals.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
Our firm has an entrepreneurial partnership model that allows and encourages each attorney to develop their own unique practice area and personal brand.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are firms leveraging technological advancements to make their solutions resourceful?
Some law firms are reimagining the billable hour and incorporating AI and using outsourced resources for diligence and practices outside of their core practices to leverage technology and provide clients with the best value proposition for their business needs.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Rutan & Tucker?
My goal is to provide value to our clients by providing practical, cost-efficient, and expert legal services that anticipate future needs in the constantly evolving business environment. I also want to support each client in their professional goals by connecting individuals to new career opportunities. This may be helping them with new jobs, introducing them to potential investors or business opportunities or connecting them to a public or private company or non-profit board seats.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the law sector?
Even within the conservative legal industry, there are ways to innovate your brand and career trajectory. There are new ways to bring value to clients and create roles within large law firms, such as positions in diversity, equity, and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and data analytics. Don’t be afraid to leverage your strengths and passions to deliver what clients need in a novel way.
I’m a business development professional that doesn’t look like a “typical” law firm partner. I am an Asian American woman doesn’t play golf or drink or know much about sports, but I have been able to draw from my interests and experience as a working parent to connect with people in a meaningful way.