Leslie Tuxhorn is partner with Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer & Jensen, LLP (Hanna Brophy), a California workers’ compensation law firm. She joined Hanna Brophy in 1995 as an associate attorney in its San Bernardino office and rose to firm managing partner from 2012-18. She is a member of the California State Bar, the Shasta County Bar, and the California Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorneys Association. Leslie has been recognized as a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law through the State Bar of California.
Sandra L. Havrilak (SLH): How did you go from associate attorney to firm managing partner?
Leslie Tuxhorn (LT): I started with Hanna Brophy in 1995 in what is now our Riverside office. I became a partner in 2000, and in 2001 I moved to Redding to help grow that office. From there I went to Santa Rosa for one year to do the same. I kept moving for more opportunities. I never wanted to settle. I became the office managing partner in the Santa Rosa office, then ran for election to be firm managing partner. While serving as a firm managing partner, I earned my master’s degree in law firm management from George Washington University. During my time as managing partner from 2012 to 2018, the firm went from 80 attorneys to 130. Our total revenue doubled. I resigned from that position in 2018 because I wanted to give others an opportunity. (We have 14 offices statewide.) I am currently working in the Orange County office, where I have a full litigation caseload and provide mentorship to our rising attorneys.
SLH: What advice would you give someone developing a practice in workers’ compensation?
LT: I would say to be creative. A lot of it is about networking, and who you know, so figure out what is comfortable for you so that you can get yourself out there. You are responsible for building your own book of business. When you start in the firm, you will be put on a certain track and you will be groomed, but very quickly you will be expected to start building your own caseload. Start making contacts from the very beginning.
SLH: What are the top three tips that you would give to a lawyer who wants to be a successful rainmaker today?
LT: First, I would say to identify your personal strengths and know when and how you can be successful. Show others how you can be best engaged and used with the work that is provided and show that you can be trusted with decision-making. Do presentations to make contacts, get out and network. Be very enthusiastic.
Second, do not drive yourself too hard to generate business. You do not want to burn out too early. Take time to build relationships and the work will flow from there. Remember to give first and it will come back to you.
Finally, help where you can. Make yourself indispensable to the person who is currently the rainmaker. Build relationships with those who are in a position to teach you and help you grow.
SLH: What is (or was) different, either about you, or your firm, or anything else, that has allowed or enabled you to become a successful rainmaker?
LT: I am naturally very driven to succeed. When I received random calls from potential clients, I took all of them. I couldn’t bill for it, but in the end, they became clients or they referred clients. It is important to find a gap in the practice and fill it. Nobody is going to tell you where to go. You need to find where you fit on your own.
SLH: Describe your typical marketing year.
LT: We have a lot of vendors that we go out and meet. They refer business and introduce us to clients. We support one another. We have a small in-house marketing and business development team, but our clients appreciate hearing from the litigation “boots on the ground.” Each partner spends time each day on building client relationships and getting new business. It takes from time we could spend doing billable work, but in the end, it helps us (and the firm) grow.
SLH: If you could engage in one type of marketing activity (e.g., speaking, writing, networking, meetings, participation in bar associations or other trade association) for the next 12 months what would it be?
LT: I am really interested in networking and developing personal relationships. I enjoy doing speaking engagements. You get a lot of exposure and opportunities to build relationships outside your main area of law and move into areas you wouldn’t necessarily think of or expect to go on your own. I think it is really important to have personal introductions so people can put a face to a name and establish a physical connection rather than simply working through email or over the phone.
SLH: How did you get your first client?
LT: I got my first client in 1995 when I started with Hanna Brophy. It was a client nobody wanted, and they were handed off to me by a partner who trusted me to work on the relationship. I still have that client.
SLH: How did you get your most recent client?
LT: My most recent client came through a presentation that I did. They really liked the well-being talk and approached me to represent them.
SLH: How did you get your best client?
LT: It was another client that nobody wanted. They are a great advocate for me. It is the so-called difficult clients that become the best clients. They are your cheerleaders. They go out and tell others about you. Do not run away from challenges. What others may find difficult, may be the best thing for you.
SLH: Knowing what you know now, if you were starting over as a lawyer today, what would you do differently?
LT: I would work with others more and ask for help. I would be open about what I want to accomplish. It is important, especially for young, female attorneys, to not shy away from their ambition or potential in the workplace. They should be upfront about how they see their future playing out and what success looks like to them.
SLH: What, if anything, do you plan to do differently with respect to marketing your services next year or in the future?
LT: Be more relaxed about it. Practice patience and not worry so much about whether or not the work will come in the door. More work is going to come. It always does.
SLH: Any other advice for future rainmakers?
LT: A lot is being said about lawyer wellness. I really believe in it. Make sure to maintain face time with others outside of the office. Continue to keep a life going that does not revolve around work. It is a hard job, and there is a lot of putting yourself out there, so it is important to keep connections and hobbies going on the outside that give you time to take your mind off of it.
About the Author
Sandra L. Havrilak is the founder of The Havrilak Law Firm, P.C., a family law and litigation firm in Fairfax, VA. She chairs the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board and is secretary of the Fairfax Bar Association LPM section.