We’re spotlighting emerging leaders in Boston law to highlight the work they do, their legal careers thus far, and their connection to the larger Boston legal community. We caught up with Sidley Partner Daniel Rawner to learn more about his growing M&A and private equity practice, his advice to new lawyers in Boston, and more. Check out the full interview below:
Boston Bar Association: What inspired you to become a lawyer? Specifically, with your focus on M & A and Private Equity?
Daniel Rawner: I was inspired by the possibility of deal-making. I believed I could compete and succeed in law, and it would be a field where I would be challenged. My experience in economics and finance prior to attending law school, including as a financial engineer, made M&A and PE a natural fit.
BBA: What advice would you give to new lawyers entering the profession?
Daniel: Work hard and with enthusiasm. If others know you are willing and eager to work with them, then you will have more learning experiences and opportunities. Law is a self-reinforcing profession, like participating in sports. If you have more reps, and especially more reps that are challenging, you will get better. Particularly for a transactional lawyer, as opposed to a litigator who can read briefs or observe in court, your actual deal experience is crucial for learning, advising clients, and eventually being able to lead deals.
BBA: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Daniel: I am most proud of being a trusted adviser to clients. There have been transactions and situations where my efforts were essential to getting the deal done. It is personally and professionally rewarding when a client trusts me to overcome challenges to close a transaction (or not close, if appropriate). Challenges in transactional law include difficult timelines, simplification of complicated issues, successful negotiations, and anticipation and management of unexpected issues.
BBA: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Daniel: I enjoy working as part of a team to successfully close a deal. In addition to understanding and advising the client, successfully operating on a deal team means working with other corporate lawyers, practice area specialists (both inside and outside the law firm), and opposing counsel. The good thing about M&A and private equity is that both sides can win, and often the work is collaborative.
BBA: Are you involved in any volunteer or community organizations? If so, what drew you to them and why is it important to you?
Daniel: I am involved in pro bono work, support organizations with charitable contributions, and actively participate in the Boston Bar Association as Co-Chair of the BBA’s Business Transactions Section. Every piece of pro bono work goes a long way. Clients appreciate being heard and helped. I also think there are a lot of important ways to give back, including by charitable contributions and serving on Boards. The bar associations also help connect you with others in the industry.
BBA: Why is it important to you to be involved in the broader legal community, like the BBA? How has this helped you in your career?
Daniel: Being part of the legal community is enriching for you and the broader group. You can learn from others, they learn from you, and you meet new people. Although there is no substitute for experience in relevant deals, the connections can help in novel situations, provide fresh perspectives, and provide contacts that may be helpful to you or your clients. It is also rewarding to be part of a community that is larger than oneself.
BBA: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the legal profession. What did you do to overcome them?
Daniel: The biggest challenge has been helping each client when they need it—despite working on multiple transactions at once—and getting to the right place when you do. You have to understand what needs to be done, why, and when it needs to be done, and be able to deliver that to the client. It is also key to get to the right result because the route to the destination is often not linear nor clear. A lawyer has to learn what issues to push, what issues to give on, and always to keep the client’s goals front of mind.
BBA: When a client comes to Boston and they aren’t familiar with the city, where do you like to take them?
Daniel: I would take them to Quincy Market, to the waterfront, and to the North End. In terms of food, Il Panino and Carmelina’s in the North End are great, and I can appreciate cannolis from both Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry Shop. A walk covering all of these gives a great taste of Boston.