Michael Moradzadeh is a founding partner and the CEO of Rimon Law P.C. He is in charge of strategic partnerships and recruiting for the firm. Mr. Moradzadeh has presented on innovations in law firm management and business models at Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, UC Berkeley Law School, and UC Hastings College of the Law. His practice focuses on technology company representation and international transactions. He represents both companies and investors in investment rounds and stock sales.
Nicholas Gaffney (NG): What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?
Michael Moradzadeh (MM): The original reason I went to law school was to work on human rights, either through the State Department or an NGO. However, once I started law school, I realized I really enjoyed international corporate law and that it could have a profound influence on international relations. After my experience as a co-founder of Rimon Law, I have found that I enjoy the business side of building an international team the best. So, if I had a career outside of law, I would still focus on building an international team of professionals.
NG: What advice would you give a new managing partner?
MM: I would advise that the new managing partner first take a lot of time to listen. A good managing partner recognizes that he/she is there to serve the firm’s attorneys, so they can in turn serve their clients well. Don’t stand in the way. Rather, see the rest of the firm as a brain trust for constant improvement. I think the best managing partner is a great facilitator for internal growth, driven by the innovation of the entire team.
NG: What are the most important/difficult decisions you make as a leader of your firm?
MM: By far the most important decision is who to bring into the firm. Ultimately, a law firm is just a team of individuals, and it is only as good as its weakest member, so I take great pains in vetting every candidate we talk to in order to ensure that they strengthen the quality and camaraderie of the firm. This is a very difficult task and requires input from many other members of the firm, a lot of due diligence, and some gut decisions. It sometimes necessitates saying no to individuals that are very close calls. However, I am proud to say that this effort really pays off.
NG: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
MM: Perspective. I think every leader needs the ability to look at an issue from the perspective of others involved. It is too easy to get stuck in your own perspective, so it is crucial to step outside yourself to understand where others are coming from. This will allow for more objective and effective decision-making that will lift up the enterprise. It also makes it more likely that those you are leading will feel a sense of ownership in the enterprise and inspire them to make it even better.
NG: What is the biggest challenge facing law firms today?
MM: Law firms are facing a world that is rapidly becoming more efficient thanks to technology. However, traditional law firms are built on an hourly pyramid model that thrives on inefficiency. The longer it takes a law firm to get work done, the more the law firm gets paid. This does not create much of an incentive to invest in technology or efficiency. This is why I believe law firms are so behind on this issue. For example, other industries have embraced artificial intelligence and automation, while traditional law firms are generally terrified that it will destroy their revenue model.
Clients are tired of paying for this inefficiency. They are building out their internal legal departments and looking to alternative law firms and service providers like Rimon for their outside legal support instead. According to a report by Deloitte, this trend is going to only accelerate, and firms that do not quickly adapt and move away from the pyramid structure relying on billable hours will soon find themselves struggling as a result.
NG: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
MM: I really enjoyed reading Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. This is a book on behavioral economics that combines my passion for psychology and economics. In law school, we were taught that everyone makes rational decisions and most of our laws are based on that assumption – the “reasonable man” test is an example of that. However, this seminal book shows that many of our decisions are actually quite irrational, and more recent research into habit formation and neurology continue to confirm this. This has a profound effect on how I view my decisions, client decisions, and the law in general. I highly recommend it.
About the Author
Nicholas Gaffney is the founder of Zumado Public Relations in San Francisco, CA and is a member of the Law Practice Today Editorial Board. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nickgaffney.