Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series, Tom Davidson, a 2L at Stanford Law School, and Brianna Liang Velasco, a 3L at Stanford Law School, interviewed San Francisco partner Dario Avram. In the excerpt below, Dario, who is a member of our Financial Transactions Group, discusses the value of forming lasting connections.
Brianna: What made you decide to practice law?
Dario: I am the first lawyer in my family, so I got really interested in law over time. I started taking pre-law classes in college and was a summer associate at MoFo in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. I loved it and stuck with it.
Brianna: Do you have any advice for summers or associates in terms of finding mentors or developing relationships?
Dario: I think every firm has a formal mentor program where you get assigned someone to take you out to lunch and have a few conversations. But, that typically isn’t the person you end up staying in touch with 10 years later.
It’s usually the people you’ve chosen to work with — the fifth-year associate who you happen to understand very well when he or she explains the purpose of a security agreement, for example. And, it’s always the people that you find and seek out. Whether it’s part of some specific group like a Latino affinity group, you find people who have similar backgrounds or similar life experiences.
The best way is to find people that you can connect with.
Tom: How has being bilingual impacted your business?
Dario: I didn’t learn English until I moved to the states, which helped me, because now I have the potential to connect with a hundred million more people.
It’s all about connecting with people. I think this relates to your question about finding mentors. You look for mentors and you look for clients with some sort of connection. For me, it’s about language and ethnicity and I think that has been incredibly useful.
When you are trying to develop business or find mentors, you have to put some work into it. I’ve tapped into this as something that makes me unique. I use it to develop work, develop mentors, and develop connections.
Brianna: What point in your career did you start doing business development? Is business development something that has been a constant throughout your career?
Dario: Get started day one, if you can. I was fortunate that a mentor at a previous firm took me on client lunches and outings. Start doing that at the beginning. The people you meet today will be senior enough to make decisions on counsel 10 years from now.
A lot of people you know from law school are going to be successful. Keep in touch with as many people as you can. You can potentially be a huge rainmaker just based on your connections in life. You never know who will end up a general counsel of a company.