Allen Maines | Executive Profile | ATLANTA TREND
A Litigator with a Flair for Leadership
By Karen Rosen
Holland & Knight LLP is one of the largest law firms in the world with more than 1,100 lawyers and 23 offices. Allen Maines serves as the Executive Partner of the law firm’s fastest growing office located in midtown Atlanta. Atlanta Trend recently had an opportunity to spend some time with Maines to learn about his vision and the leadership lessons he is applying to achieve this spectacular growth.
Maines was recruited by Holland & Knight from Paul Hastings, where he had served as co-chair of the global litigation section, as chair of the securities class action practice group, and during which time he also served as chair of the International Bar Association’s Securities Law Committee. He has served as counsel to some of the world’s largest entities in both litigation and corporate matters of major significance, and also has represented a number of technology companies.
Holland & Knight brought Maines on board not only as a litigator, but as a leader. He recently was named executive partner of the Atlanta office and in record time has recruited a number of top lawyers on the East Coast from other prominent firms to deepen the firm’s expertise and, along with others, has helped to mold Holland & Knight into an even stronger legal powerhouse.
“Management is committed to making Atlanta one of the firm’s flagship offices,” he says. “Our Managing Partner. Steve Sonberg, and our COO, Doug Wright, have committed phenomenal energy and resources to this effort. Although our footprint is national, we’re the only major law firm with pervasive presence throughout the Southeast. A lot of the other firms are investing for growth elsewhere, but we are aggressively investing in Atlanta and in the Southeast. It’s exciting because we are one of the few firms in Atlanta to be rapidly crawling up the food chain. We’re already one of the most profitable law firms with a presence in Atlanta, and we ranked No. 3 nationally last year for the number of lateral lawyers joining the firm.”
Maines says the Atlanta office has recently increased its headcount by 50 percent and now has 40-50 lawyers. “We have really thought about ‘How do we want to communicate our client-centered philosophy? How can we rebrand ourselves in Atlanta as the new Holland & Knight?’” Maines says. “We went through exercises of asking who we are, what type of culture do our clients expect their law firms to cultivate, whether there really is a new paradigm in the professional services legal business – which I think there is – and then we embarked on recruiting laterals with deep slivers of expertise who share our vision of what it takes to be a value-adding, client-centered professional services firm.”
In what the Daily Report called a “hiring spree,” Holland & Knight lured Woody Vaughan and Allison Dyer from King & Spalding in public finance; Jordan Stringer from King & Spalding in litigation; Jeff Lowe from King & Spalding in real estate; Mark Lange, former head of McKenna Long & Aldridge’s national tax practice, along with Aly Pirio; John Decker, head of the Atlanta real estate group from Hunton & Williams (who was joined by Mike Schreiner and Drew Gandy); Terry Davis from Baker, Donelson to co-chair the firm’s investment management practice and Roth Kehoe and Robert Green from Hunton & Williams to build the payment and transaction services practice. “We’re not done this year,” Maines says. “We hopefully are going to have other good news to announce, and almost daily one of Atlanta’s leading lawyers reaches out to us about the possibility of joining Holland & Knight.” Not surprisingly, Holland & Knight has outgrown its offices at One Atlantic Center and is building out brand new space across the street. The firm will move into two floors at Atlantic Center Plaza in September.
“I really am trying to take the best of everything I’ve had the opportunity to learn from great client leaders and law firm mentors,” Maines says, “to create a place full of imaginative, creative people with mental energy and with a sense of urgency and pride.” Maines, an alumnus of Leadership Atlanta, says that Holland & Knight is trying to sharpen a simple formula: “We want to be accessible, responsive, efficient and solution-oriented. We do not want to be ‘pointy-headed lawyers,’ and instead want to be regarded as lawyers who help our clients achieve what they want to achieve.”
The payments and transactions processing team is “a fine example of a practice that’s important to Atlanta,” he adds. “We want to own this space. We also have specialized industry groups for floor covering, poultry, and information and media industries, among others.” Besides offering deep pockets of expertise, Holland & Knight is trying to eliminate the trepidation clients have about retaining a law firm because of uncertain fees. “We are good at wringing inefficiencies out of the delivery of legal services,” Maines says. “We can price our product, and deliver it on time by accessing pre-existing expertise.” Holland & Knight has taken advantage of legal industry deleveraging to change the culture from the “rates times hours” model, in which Maines says clients “don’t know what value they’re going to get.”
“The firms that are going to do well in the future,” Maines says, “are those that will assume responsibility for mining their pre-existing expertise and that will quote their client a fixed fee or an alternative fee arrangement which charges the law firm with managing efficiently the personnel and the work that is being done. These firms can offer their clients predictability with regard to legal fees.”
Holland & Knight also is committed to understanding the client’s personal and business goals. “We want relationships in which the clients are able to use the ‘reach’ of our law firm to achieve their business goals,” Maine says. “We want to partner with them and to understand their business, and we want them to understand how we can help them grow their business. We frequently use Open Phone arrangements as an ‘all-you-can-eat’ solution for quick answers and quick document review in exchange for a set monthly fee.”
There are many people who have influenced Maines. “One of the best things about my job is I get to see all of these incredible businesses with these creative, challenging business plans, and the leadership styles of different executives that you couldn’t dream up,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some inspiring clients in the ‘C-Suite’ and on some incredibly sophisticated problems and cases.”
When asked who influenced him professionally, Maines gives credit initially to his mentors at Hansell & Post (now part of Jones Day), where he became a partner. “I owe a great deal to those guys because they took a wet-behind-the-ears kid from Indiana who had no earthly idea of what to do and kicked my teeth in for a long period of time to shape me into being, hopefully, a decent lawyer,” Maines says. “I was lucky to work for a big firm at a time when it was still economically feasible for young lawyers to get into the courtroom and actually try cases.”
Maines left Hansell & Post with some colleagues to join Long, Aldridge & Norman. “Clay Long, the founder of Long, Aldridge & Norman (now McKenna, Long & Aldridge), taught me a lot, most importantly that what gets measured, gets done. It is the best way to motivate people.”
Maines learned Federal Practice and Federal Civil Procedure from James William Moore, then Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University. “He literally wrote the book on federal civil procedure (“Moore’s Federal Practice”) and he taught me how to interpret the rules in light of their historical development,” Maines says. “And my oldest brother attended Stanford Law School and then went to work for Fred Bartlett at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. He really is the one that introduced me to the legal profession.”
Atlanta Trend asked Maines about some of the people he has met along the way. “I’ve met some colorful characters and I’ve traveled with them from Beijing to Kabul to Dubai to South Africa and Australia on incredibly interesting cases,” Maines says. “Ray Scott and Melvin Belli are on that list.”
Scott founded the Bass Anglers’ Sportsman’s Society and hired Maines to defend a winner-take-all “bet your company” case. “I learned two things from Ray. First, Ray made everything fun. Above all, the practice of law and your working environment has to be fun. Second, every time I added a new associate to the team on Ray’s case, Ray drove them around Montgomery, Alabama, to show them where he grew up, went to school, formed his first fishing club, and played his first baseball game. Each associate became personally invested in Ray and worked hardest to win Ray’s case. We ultimately won Ray’s case.”
Maines’ client list would make any lawyer envious. He has represented Reed Elsevier and LexisNexis, numerous telecom and media companies (including those in Afghanistan and Australia, and WorldCom and Global Crossing), the People’s Liberation Army of China, Priceline, Ernst & Young, and General Electric. Considered one of the top trial lawyers in his field, Maines has worked on more than 70 class actions, 37 of which he helped settle before trial. He has tried 22 cases and argued appeals in state and federal courts. He has handled shareholder disputes, competitive disputes, business torts, information technology and intellectual property claims, representation and warranty matters arising out of mergers and acquisitions, consumer claims, and fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence actions.
Why did he choose to become a litigator? “There are lots of areas in law where nobody knows whether you did a good job or a bad job,” Maines says. “If you draft a will, 60 years later somebody’s taking a look at it and only then do they say, ‘Gee, I wish he had thought about this or about that.’ But in trial work, when you write a brief and serve it on the other side, you have a trained professional as an adversary who is going to give you a grade within 30 days. They’re going to respond and point out to you, the court and to the world whether or not you read and represented the law correctly, and whether or not there are arguments that you failed to consider or to address. It’s a results-oriented part of the profession and I find that really rewarding.”
Maines is consistently recognized by clients for delivering top-tier practical corporate advice and by his peers alike in Chambers USA, Georgia Super Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, Georgia’s Legal Elite and Martindale-Hubbell. He also is known for his scholarship, having authored numerous articles and book and treatise chapters including Securities and Class Action Litigation (Oceana Press), Planning and Delivering Closing Arguments (LexisNexis), and Corporate Law for Intellectual Property Lawyers (Law Seminars International).
Increasingly, Maines serves on or consults with for-profit boards on corporate governance issues. In the non-profit arena he has served on Kennesaw State’s School of Corporate Governance as an advisor and as Chairman of the Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes, as well as the Animal Health Trust.
Maines’ interests also include travel, tennis and architecture and design. But right now he has little time for outside interests. He’s too busy working on the next chapter at Holland & Knight, whose flag is flying high in Atlanta. “We’re open for business,” he says, “growing, and servicing our clients beyond their expectations.”
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