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Rainmaker Q&A: Keker & Van Nest's Ashok Ramani


Ashok Ramani, a partner at Keker & Van Nest LLP in San Francisco, is an experienced trial lawyer who focuses his practice on patent and trade secret disputes. Having tried 15 jury and bench trials, Ramani quickly identifies key issues, designs a winning strategy, and simplifies sophisticated technical and legal concepts to persuade juries and judges alike. In addition to patent and trade secret matters, Ramani has substantial experience handling class action, employment, and complex commercial disputes.

Ramani has been recognized for his skillful advocacy. He has repeatedly been named one of California’s top IP lawyers by the Daily Journal, Chambers recognizes him as a leader in IP, and in 2015, Ramani was inducted as a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America. Ramani is honored to have handled multiple engagements for leading technology companies including Netflix, TSMC, Hulu, HTC, Square and Broadcom.

For his plaintiff clients, Ramani has secured multiple nine-figure settlements and preliminary injunctions against former employees on trade secret misappropriation claims. For his defendant clients, he has achieved complete victory after trial on multiple patents, mid-trial voluntary dismissal by the plaintiff and pretrial victory by summary judgment and motion to dismiss.

Q: What skill was most important for you in becoming a rainmaker?

A: Remaining persistent in keeping in touch with potential clients and being sure to stay in regular touch with current and former clients. When I first made partner, I had this quaint notion that results and reputation speak for themselves, and that clients will find you if you do good work and have a good reputation. While results and reputation are of course critical, clients have so many demands on their time that it’s important to stay top of mind. My current and former clients are almost all in-house lawyers at corporations — lucky for me, I like them all personally, so staying in touch is fun.

Q: How do you prepare a pitch for a potential new client?

A: There is no template; my colleagues at Keker & Van Nest and I approach every case as a new problem to be solved. We collaborate to come up with the best possible strategy to position the case for trial. It takes a lot of time and thought, but I am proud of the pitches that result.

Q: Share an example of a time when landing a client was especially difficult, and how you handled it.

A: I had been invited to pitch a case and prepared the pitch as described above. I visited the client and spent several hours discussing the pitch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it, but the client complimented our pitch and said they enjoyed the meeting. We were invited to submit another pitch, and didn’t get that one either. Rather than get frustrated, we kept at it, and solicited feedback from the potential client after each pitch. I guess the third time was a charm, because we landed the third case we pitched for them, and now regularly do work for that client.

Q: What should aspiring rainmakers focus on when beginning their law careers?

A: Observing people with whom they work — whether at their firm, co-counsel or opposing counsel — and learning as much as they can from them all. In addition, be sure to keep in touch with clients you’ve had over the years, and even opposing counsel. I’ve had opposing counsel refer me work years after we tangled.

Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of remaining a rainmaker?

A: Making sure that current clients remain happy with you and your team while also seeking out new clients. Clients have plenty of very good lawyers who they could choose to work with, so you should never take a current client for granted. At the same time, you need to reach out to potential clients regularly. I learned long ago that the time to do this is when you’re really busy, because cases can go away unexpectedly and before you know it you’ll be left trying to find the next one.