Nossaman Partner Yuliya Oryol Profiled in Law360 "Rainmakers" Q&A
Yuliya Oryol, Co- Chair of Nossaman’s Public Pensions and Investments Group, was profiled by Law360 as part of its Rainmakers Q&A series. The series provides insight into how many of the nation’s most prominent attorneys build their practices. The full Q&A can be found below.
Rainmakers Q&A: Nossaman's Yuliya Oryol
Law360, New York (November 17, 2016)
Nossaman LLP's Yuliya A. Oryol is co-chairwoman of the public pensions and investments practice group in San Francisco and serves on the firm’s Executive Committee. Oryol has over 20 years of experience representing institutional investors in a broad range of alternative investments and real estate matters. She focuses her practice primarily on representing public pension plan investors in California, nationally and internationally in connection with public market and private market investment transactions.
Oryol also serves as the chairwoman of the Investment Committee of the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys. In addition, she publishes articles and frequently speaks on investment related matters.
From 2000 to 2003, Oryol worked in Seoul, South Korea where she represented American, Asian and European institutional investors, financial institutions, and South Korean business conglomerates.
Q: What skill was most important for you in becoming a rainmaker?
A: Given my specialization with institutional investors, and particularly public pension plans, the clients I work with are different than clients in the private sector. In addition to making sure that my clients know I am an experienced, ethical and reliable attorney, I’ve found that clients in the public pension world value someone who is politically attuned to the public pressures faced by their pension boards and investment officers.
Given the public nature of our work, the decisions that our clients make are often highly scrutinized — by local and national media, politicians and the community at large — so demonstrating that I am sensitive to these factors has helped me build a practice in this area, and by extension has helped to grow Nossaman’s public pensions and investments practice group.
Q: How do you prepare a pitch for a potential new client?
A: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Know the potential client’s business and also what’s happening in the financial markets — the investment opportunities the clients may have, the financial and political challenges they face, their short-term and long-term investment goals and guidelines. I always come prepared to discuss relevant examples of work I’ve done for similarly situated clients in order to illustrate my experience in the area, but I’m careful not to over-emphasize previous or current client work, as I don’t want the potential client to feel that the solution I will be offering is a standard template I offer to all my clients.
In addition, I effectively communicate the differentiating factors that Nossaman’s public pensions and investments practice group offers compared to other firms. For instance, unlike the majority of our competitors in this sector, we take great pride in only working on the investor side and not representing the investment management firms or the financial consultants to the investors. Avoiding these potential conflicts of interests in connection with our representation of institutional investors ensures that we only have the interest of our clients at all times.
Q: Share an example of a time when landing a client was especially difficult, and how you handled it.
A: I practiced law in Seoul, South Korea in the early 2000s. During this time, I also continued to work full-time while pregnant with both of my daughters. I was involved in numerous pitches to potential Korean and other Asian clients. It was challenging to pitch work as a non-Korean speaking, Russian-American woman, working in a mostly male Asian business culture. In fact, I was regularly the only woman in the room pitching the work.
It was intimidating at times, especially because I was visibly pregnant on many of those pitches. Nevertheless, the key was to remain confident, in control and distinguish myself based on my unique international background, transactional experience and knowledge of the industry. I am proud that I was able to overcome cultural obstacles and gender biases to successfully develop business in Korea. After that experience, I was well-prepared to land business in the U.S.
Q: What should aspiring rainmakers focus on when beginning their law careers?
A: Relationships and reputation. The personal relationships that you make early in and outside the legal industry can pay huge dividends across your career in terms of referrals and opportunities for work. But those relationships will only pay off if you nurture them and maintain a good reputation — the legal industry is smaller than many people think, and people talk to each other constantly. I’ve worked hard over the years to develop a reputation as not only someone who is responsive to the client’s needs and an experienced trusted-adviser, but also as a tough negotiator and deal-closer.
Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of remaining a rainmaker?
A: Building a successful practice is a seven-days-per-week, 24-hour job (often including holidays and vacations). It is a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes many hours of nonbillable time, often away from your family, to land the work and take advantage of the opportunities. No matter how robust my current book of business may be — I don’t take it for granted and regularly go out and make things happen.
The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.