An interview with Eric L. Pines
Hunger - Practicing law is not easy, so you must have a thirst for knowledge and a hunger to expand your skills.
TThe field of law is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly skilled. That said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific area of law? In this series of interviews entitled “5 things you need to become a top lawyer in your specific area of law’, we speak with top lawyers who share what it takes to stand out and excel in your industry.
As part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Luke Pigram.
Luke is a senior mergers and acquisitions lawyer at PwC, which recently launched its own digital portfolio.lucas guide. The motivation for creating Luke's Guide was not only to demonstrate his expertise as an M&A attorney, but also to make that knowledge accessible to anyone interested in buying, selling and growing businesses online.
Thank you for participating in this series of interviews. Before we get into the details, our readers would like to get to know you a little bit more. What is the “backstory” that led you to this particular Jura career? Did you want to be a lawyer "when you grow up"?
CGrowing up, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Since I was a child I was fascinated by how things work and I was interested in everything related to an engine.
I started my legal career in my late 20s, but my first job after high school was working for a high-performance auto parts manufacturer. Everything we build was handcrafted and tailored to the specific needs of each client. I developed a strong work ethic from a young age, but definitely gained a better understanding of the importance of attention to detail when practicing your craft. I have tried very hard to apply this lesson to my legal career.
Can you tell us a little bit about the nature of your practice and your areas of focus?
I am a Senior M&A Counsel at PwC's Corporate Advisory practice. While most of our work is focused on M&A and transactional consulting, I have made a conscious effort to “broaden my horizons” and develop skills in other areas of the law.
Some of the other areas I have experience in include privacy and data protection, consumer law and new technology laws.
In a multidisciplinary company like PwC there are so many opportunities to work in different areas of activity.
This is a big difference between PwC Legal and more traditional law firms, as at PwC you are encouraged to seek out new experiences and learn new things (even if they are outside your area of expertise).
You are a successful lawyer. What three personality traits do you think were most important to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others might not? Can you please give a story or an example for each one?
The three character traits that come to mind are ambitious, focused, and open-minded.
You have to be a little ambitious to be a lawyer. It's not an easy field, so you really need to know what you want from a legal career and decide on that.
It also helps to focus. Distractions are everywhere at work and it's easy to get sidetracked. Of course, distractions can lead to mistakes, which can often be costly in this industry.
While ambition and focus are very important, you must also have an open mind. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your view/opinion is the only one that matters. However, it's important to keep an open mind, ask lots of questions, and consider alternatives when they present themselves.
An open mind will help you in all aspects of your career and make you a better lawyer.
Do you think you were lucky with your success? Can you explain what you mean?
I don't believe in luck. In my experience, if you want to be successful, you have to work at it.
Although I have had to work very hard for everything in my life, I recognize that I am in a very privileged position. By that I mean I was born in Australia, a very safe and stable country. I have fantastic parents who raised me well. I also had the opportunity to attend good schools and get a good education.
Do you think your school days influenced your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-notch school?
I can't speak to the situation in other countries, but Australia seems to care a lot less about where you get your education compared to what I understand to be the situation in the US, for example.
While there are schools in Australia that are considered more 'prestigious' than others, in my experience where you study has little impact on your career prospects as a young lawyer. The important thing is that you have a good understanding of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and then apply yourself.
Based on the lessons you've learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and talk to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? would you do something different
I probably would have pursued legal positions earlier (i.e. during college) to gain more experience and accelerate my progress as a lawyer. I think this can also help all young lawyers find the areas of law they are passionate about and enjoy working in much sooner.
It's not an easy job. What is your main motivation and drive for your work?
I like the challenge of complex work. I am passionate about finding creative solutions to my clients' complex problems. I'm also very lucky to work for a company that allows its people to innovate and try new things, which means I rarely work on the same problem twice.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are currently working on?
While the media gleefully reports on the ruin of the global economy, we are working on a number of interesting mid-market deals. Market confidence has been shaken, so now we're seeing some of the discount shoppers rush in for a bargain. Without going into detail, we've engaged in some interesting deals across multiple industry sectors, including technology, agriculture, and finance. As buyers can take a little longer to evaluate a deal, the scope of buyer due diligence expands as some buyers become more risk averse amid uncertainty about what the economy is about to bring.
Where do you go from here Where do you want to be in the next chapter of your career?
I'm really enjoying this phase of my career. I've now gained enough experience to be confident that I can handle just about any legal issue that comes across my desk. It's a beautiful place and I look forward to rising to higher positions in the future.
I'm also looking forward to expanding Luke's Guide in my spare time and making it a trusted resource for anyone wanting to learn more about online business.
Without sharing anything confidential, can you share your most successful "war story"? can you share the funniest
For me, one of the most memorable businesses I've worked on in recent years was closed in December 2019 - just weeks before the global closures due to the pandemic.
We were acting on the seller's side of the deal and the buyer insisted on traveling from Europe to Australia to personally negotiate the final terms of the deal. Representatives from both sides were holed up in a conference room for three days.
There were certainly some tense moments during the negotiations, but during the breaks everyone gathered to eat and prepare for the next round of negotiations. I think I slept about 4 hours every night and on the last day of the negotiation the parties didn't sign the invoice until 3am the next morning. It was a marathon of achievements!
Before this business I had never experienced anything like it and to be honest I probably won't do it again considering how the world has changed since the pandemic. It was definitely an experience I will remember forever.
OK, fantastic. Now let's move on to some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? On site? Or Hybrid? How do you see the future of how law firms work? what do you prefer? Can you explain what you mean?
I am currently working with a hybrid model. I work from home some days and travel to the office others.
I think we're going to continue to see some sort of hybrid model in the legal industry. There is certainly more pressure in the industry (now that the pandemic has passed) for a return to the office, but I think most employers are realizing that things have changed and they need some form of remote work (either full-time or part-time) .
While I prefer working remotely for productivity reasons (i.e. saving time, not having to commute, being able to focus in the office without distractions), there are definitely benefits to face-to-face interactions. I think it's about balancing the two work styles and figuring out the best way to serve your customers/collaborate with colleagues using a combination of the two.
How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think this might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?
As I mentioned earlier, we're going to see a lot more flexibility in the way lawyers work with many companies formalizing their remote work policies across the industry. I think for most companies there will be some sort of hybrid model rather than policies that specifically prohibit remote work or allow all employees to work remotely 100% of the time.
The way lawyers interact with clients has changed and will continue to change. People are much more comfortable interacting with each other remotely and will continue to do so (especially as companies look to cut costs and reduce travel expenses).
Technology tools are becoming increasingly important as businesses and their clients expect attorneys to do more with less. There has already been an explosion of new technology tools specifically aimed at the legal industry, and I think the adoption of these new technologies will continue.
In your experience, how can attorneys use social media effectively to build their practice?
To be honest, I don't focus much on social media (eg LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
This is not to say that these are not important channels for lawyers to reach their "audiences" and clients.
I prefer to build a digital portfolio (i.e. blog) that you have more control over and are not at the mercy of social media algorithms. That said, you still need to market your blog, and social media can be a viable way to do that.
I like to focus on one thing at a time. For now, my goal is to continue building my audience through Lucas's Guide, and later look for ways to diversify my reach (be it through social media or other channels).
Great. Here is our main interview question. What are your "5 Things You Need to Become a Top Lawyer in Your Specific Area of Law?"
Regardless of the area of law you practice, these are some of the things you need to succeed as a lawyer.
- Curiosity - Be open to opportunities to learn new things. Don't be intimidated just because "you've never done this before" or "it's not your area of expertise". Fortune favors the brave.
- Focus – Lawyers need to be excellent project managers and often juggle several things at once. However, it is equally important not to get too distracted. Sometimes it's better to drown out the noise, prioritize your work, and focus on getting the important tasks done.
- Hunger - Practicing law is not easy, so you must have a thirst for knowledge and a hunger to expand your skills.
- Empathy – Clients come to lawyers with problems that need to be resolved, but they are often just the “tip of the iceberg” from the start. Your customers need to trust you before they feel comfortable enough to let you in. Understanding your needs is critical to providing exceptional service. That means it's worth taking the time to listen to them, putting yourself in their shoes to really understand their problem and the driving force behind it.
- Persistence - Being a lawyer is challenging and it's easy to doubt yourself (especially when you make mistakes). Every lawyer has been through this, but know that persistence pays off.
We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in business, venture capital finance, sports and entertainment reading this column. Is there one person in the world or in the United States that you would like to have breakfast or lunch with in private and why? He or she can see this. :-)
Charlie Munger. He has an incredible mind and is an absolute legend in the business world. I would like to get as much information from him as possible when it comes to investment and business in general.
That was very inspiring. Thanks for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health!
AAbout the Interviewer: Eric L. Pines is an employment attorney, mediator, and business coach for attorneys. He represents federal employees and serves as an internal advocate for more than 50,000 federal employees through his work as a federal employee union representative. Mr. Pines, himself a formal federal employee, began his career in the federal labor arena as an in-house counsel for AFGE Local 1923, which is based at the headquarters of the Social Security Administration and is the largest local federal union in the world. He currently serves as chief counsel for AFGE 1923, as well as in-house counsel for all employees of the FEMA negotiating unit and various unions in the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Although he and his firm specialize in representing federal employees of all federal agencies and in connection with virtually all federal employee matters, his firm has placed special emphasis on representing physicians and nurses of veterans matters contracted under the authority of the title . He and his firm have a particular passion for representing disabled federal employees in their requests for medically and religiously reasonable accommodations when those accommodations are guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (ADA). He also represents them on their Federal Employee Disability Retirement (OPM) claims when placement would not be an option.
Mr. Pines also served as a mediator for several federal agencies, including acting as an internal mediator for the Library of Congress EEO for one year. He has also served as an expert witness in federal courts on federal employee matters. He also served as the EEO's technical editor, writing hundreds of final agency decisions for the federal sector.
The company of Mr. Pines is headquartered in Houston, Texas, with offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia. His first passion is his wife and five children. He plays classical and rock guitar and enjoys playing ice hockey, running and biking. Please visit their websites atwww.pinesfederal.comEwww.toughinjurylawyers.com. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.