Kimberly Mann is a corporate and securities attorney with a principal focus on private equity. She has an in-depth understanding of the legal, regulatory, and business opportunities and challenges that fund managers encounter.
In this interview, she shares her journey, approach to successful deal-making, interesting trends in her practice areas, and valuable advice for associates and law students looking to follow in her footsteps.
What inspired your decision to practice law?
I have always enjoyed the challenge of advocating for others, even as far back as grade school. I love investigating, negotiating and problem solving.
After working as an accountant for several years and saving money, I decided to enroll in law school in the evening program. I loved the work I did in law school and as a summer associate. My love of the work, the great experiences I had as a summer associate, and the encouragement from others led me to decide to practice law.
What is your approach to successful deal-making?
I approach each transaction by first understanding what the business deal is, what my client’s goals and objectives are, and what “success” is for my client. A deal is successful only if the client thinks it is a success.
Once we establish the ground rules and come to an understanding regarding fees, my goal is to create solutions that are practical and pragmatic from both a legal and business perspective.
What interesting trends you’re seeing in your practice areas?
One of the interesting and exciting developments in private equity and venture capital is that there are increasing opportunities for African Americans in the industry.
Founders and emerging managers of color are beginning to receive more funding from investors and the number of investors of color is increasing.
We are beginning to see an increasing number of fund managers (sometimes referred to as “GPs”) of color. Those managers are getting opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities to institutional investors. It is a beautiful thing.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy working closely with fund managers to navigate through the legal, regulatory, and business opportunities and challenges they encounter throughout their life cycle.
Whether it is at the formation phase, a challenge with a key person, or the excitement of an exit, I love helping them achieve great outcomes.
Also, a significant part of my practice involves representing investors, such as funds of funds and other investors in private funds. I enjoy counseling them on issues relating to their investments and helping them understand and negotiate investment terms.
What advice do you have for associates and law students who want to follow in your footsteps?
- How much time do we have? I can think of a thousand things. Here are ten things that come to mind immediately:
- Treat everyone as a prospective client because they are.
- Stay in touch with friends and former classmates.
- Keep your head about you when all around you are losing theirs.
- Hard work pays off. Play the long game. There are no shortcuts.
- Never lose sight of who you are and the values you represent. Maintain perspective.
- The practice of law is a profession and a business. Client service is job one, but never forget about the economics.
- Find mentors and sponsors you respect and trust, but remember that these relationships work both ways.
- Seek excellence in all you do.
- Be versatile. Learn new things. Be prepared for new opportunities.
- Chart your own path, and don’t be afraid to take an alternate route.
On the subject of alternate routes, when I graduated from law school and began working in a law firm I decided that I would re-evaluate my career every year to make sure I was on the path that was right for me. That process has served me well and I recommend it to associates who ask me for advice.
Changing course can lead to great opportunities. By changing course two years ago and moving from a very large law firm (where I had worked for more than 25 years) to Shulman Rogers, new opportunities opened for my practice and for me personally. I think introspection is a key component of a long and satisfying career.