Noah Hagey is the managing partner of BraunHagey & Borden. He has successfully prosecuted and defended dozens of bet-the-company cases for Fortune 500 companies, private businesses, foreign sovereigns, and other clients throughout the U.S. and internationally.
Noah has also served as general counsel to several companies and routinely consults with private equity and hedge funds regarding litigation risk, pre- and post-exit due diligence, and other liability issues.
Nicholas Gaffney (NG): What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?
Noah Hagey (NH): Outlaw country music poet. The world could use another Townes Van Zandt, no matter how poor an imitation.
NG: Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader. Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
NH: Both parents. My father was a carpenter and home builder, who used his physical labor to raise a family and support his own pursuit of a Ph.D. in child psychology. His journey, the struggle, and its ultimate success had a big impact on me. And, like many households, my mother was everywhere and everything. In addition to raising three rambunctious children, she founded two amazing organizations in Austin that changed the way people engaged with under-served communities. The first was the Community Mentor Program which placed college students as mentors for local elementary school children. And, more recently, she ran the Austin Project, a first-of-its-kind community center for parents and children. Collectively, her work will have done more good, and for more people, than most of us can imagine in our lifetimes.
NG: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
NH: Make hay while the sun is shining.
NG: What advice would you give a new managing partner?
NH: Be humble, because it is a humbling position. And, especially, don’t try to over-manage your colleagues or fellow partners. Law is a business of relationships and requires mutual faith and respect. Each of your fellow partners and colleagues comes to the table with different, natural talents. I find meaning and pleasure in identifying those areas and helping them grow into their natural calling.
NG: What are the most important/difficult decisions you make as a leader of your firm?
NH: Hiring. Identifying the correct “fit.” Each firm has its own DNA and culture; identifying that culture and the folks that excel in that environment takes a long time, but it is remarkable when you get it right.
NG: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
NH: Willingness to think hard before they answer.
NG: What is the biggest challenge facing law firms today?
NH: Chasing market fads instead of being true to who they are.
NG: What does the legal profession need to do to improve opportunities for diverse lawyers?
NH: Diversity is a huge, structural challenge—it’s often a supply-demand issue. Most law firms want to add diverse individuals as colleagues and management. However, the push for more diverse lawyers starts with reforming the educational system. In order to get more lawyers of diverse identities, experiences, and thoughts, we need to put these individuals on paths toward higher education, including law school. Law firms can start early by supporting younger students of diverse backgrounds—of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities—with programs like internships, career-building opportunities, and mentorships, paving paths to encourage law school and offering tuition assistance to these participants.
NG: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
NH: I am re-reading one of my favorite books with my teenaged daughter. It’s Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s much, much better than the movie with Christian Slater. The best part is doing funny Italian accents with my kid, who is not such a kid anymore.
NG: If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
NH: My wife, Allison. We don’t get enough time in this hectic, many-directions life. She is the most put-together and deeply competent person I have ever known. In addition to managing our chaotic home life, she is the firm’s hiring partner and runs the IP and regulatory side of our practice.