Top Lawyers: Sanat Ranganathan Of The Law Offices of Sanat Ranganathan On The 5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law
Patience: This is very important. I use breathing techniques, yoga, always remembering to look at the big picture and while being a cliché, it pays to remember “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The legal field is known to be extremely competitive. Lawyers are often smart, ambitious, and highly educated. That being said, what does it take to stand out and become a “Top Lawyer” in your specific field of law? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law”, we are talking to top lawyers who share what it takes to excel and stand out in your industry.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sanat Ranganathan.
Sanat Ranganathan, a Principal Attorney at The Law Offices of Sanat Ranganathan, has been counsel to multinational businesses in the Chicago metro area and other areas. He excels in this role, which he handles successfully and efficiently. Sanat has worked for a multinational company where he communicated effectively with team members to develop technology service agreements, SaaS, software agreements, data security & privacy, vendor/supplier contracts, sales and other third-party agreements and advised on intellectual property rights such as copyright, proprietary source code & open-source. He also interpreted prior executed agreements and advised on rights and obligations, and what information can or cannot be shared with company customers or the public. As a company attorney, Sanat Ranganathan’s major job was to avoid future difficulties by negotiating and drafting well-considered contracts that were in accordance with good practice guides and standards.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?
I am a logical thinker who loves finding solutions to problems, so being an attorney was the natural path. I always believed I wanted to work as a lawyer since I was in high school. While still in high school, I started to respect the legal profession, and then worked very hard during law school to earn my various degrees and bar admissions.
Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?
My expertise is predominantly transactional, in the technology, commercial and corporate sector, but I also have a broad range of experience in many areas of law including litigation and compliance. I have been practicing for years and focus on advising my clients on various legal issues so they can make informed decisions about how to conduct their businesses.
You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Endurance, dedication, and a good work ethic. I believe that if your mind is set on doing something, you should pursue it until it is done. I think these three qualities and self-discipline are all needed to be successful in any field.
Endurance was needed when I was studying to pass the various bar exams and to shut out the hype, while focusing on the end result of qualifying as a lawyer.
Dedication is needed every day to do the very best for each client, whose unique situation and pain points may involve extra work and unique problem-solving skills. Each day of my work is an example in itself; I dedicate my time, effort, knowledge and expertise to serving each client individually.
A good work ethic is needed to foster meaningful working relationships. For example, when I was helping a major client in the Chicago metro area in its transactions, I had to be time-conscious and turn things around to my clients, quickly and efficiently. That involved spending very long hours working for them, and ensuring I kept detailed and accurate records. My good work ethic will ensure my client has all required information quickly, even down the line. I also developed a good working relationship with my clients due to my work ethic, professionalism and integrity.
Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?
I believe that luck finds those who persevere. Most people who got ‘lucky’ spent years working, waiting and diligently focused on their end goal, before opportunities arose, as opposed to falling in their lap out of the blue. My success is the result of hard work and good decisions. I am not someone who believes that “luck” plays a crucial role in one’s life, so my viewpoint is probably slightly different than some others!
Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?
I think that the most important factor in being a successful attorney is “hard work.” I do believe that going to a top-tier law school greatly benefits you and does open some doors, but hard work is more important than where you went to school.
Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?
One thing that schools need to work on more, is the real-world application of classwork. I would tell my younger self that bookish knowledge is fine to start with, but always temper it with real world common sense and business savviness; that is the pathway to success.
This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?
I love working as a lawyer. It is a privilege to work for my clients and try to make them successful; their joy is my motivation.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m constantly working on interesting and exciting projects. The work I do for each client is very different, so I have a lot of variety in my day-to-day life. However, no two days are ever the same!
Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?
I firmly believe the world is one’s oyster, so I have a lot of flexibility about where I go from here. I plan to continue to learn as much as possible. After finishing this chapter of my career, it is hard to know what will happen next!
Without sharing anything confidential, can you please share your most successful “war story”? Can you share the funniest?
I’ve had lots of successful “war stories” and I like them all! One case that comes to mind involved claims by my client against a service provider. Though we settled the matter, we got an excellent result for our client, plus the business relationship was saved and we avoided the headaches of litigation.
The funniest example was a man that wanted to hire me to represent him in his divorce. I let him know that this wasn’t my area of expertise so I referred him to a colleague, but his biggest ask in the divorce was to keep his DVD movie collection 😊.
Ok, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?
Since the start of COVID, I have been working from home mostly, sometimes a hybrid working from home and the office. I see the benefits and personally really do enjoy it. I think the future of how offices operate should be whatever works for the employees. I find that most people are more efficient when they are comfortable.
How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?
The legal world is certainly changed — face to face meetings with colleagues, third parties, opposing counsel and even judges are predominantly by online tools like Zoom and not face-to-face. Will that change, probably, but will not completely revert to pre-Covid-19 days. I am sure a hybrid online and personal meeting between parties will occur, just like all other industries.
I think the way people consume their news will continue to change. I don’t know how it will change in the near future. I hope that Covid-19 ends soon with myself a part of the new post-COVID era; I can’t wait!
We often hear about the importance of networking and getting referrals. Is this still true today? Has the nature of networking changed or has its importance changed? Can you explain what you mean?
Networking is still extremely important and nature hasn’t really changed. I am always trying to build new relationships and continue to maintain previously built ones. The only difference is, people have to learn to be comfortable networking online, more than ever, in this new COVID-19 era.
Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?
It is possible to leverage social media in many different ways. I think that the best way to approach social media is by having fun with it. When you’re not working, try sharing some of your personal experiences and interests on social media. This will make your followers more likely to engage with when you do post about your work and legal updates.
Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need to Become a Top Lawyer in Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.
I think that longevity is important and it takes a long time to become a top lawyer. You need to be able to work with clients, manage your cases and try the best you can for your clients.
1) A good mentor: Find someone who has been doing this for a long time and ask them if they mentor you. Choose your mentor wisely. I had a mentor in my younger days. Even as a seasoned, I still could count on his wisdom, expertise and where necessary, his encouragement and comfort. He recently passed away.
2) A good work ethic: I know that I can be a good lawyer but it takes a lot of time and effort to do that. You need to be willing to work for it, as I stated in my above responses.
3) Flexibility: Things don’t always go the way you expect them to, so you have to be able to adjust accordingly. I cannot pinpoint how many times I have had to change plans or directions midway through the process, because the client’s priorities changed. Remember, at the end of the day, you as the lawyer are there to serve the client, not vice-versa.
4) Time management: You need to be able to handle your workload and keep track of all your different cases at once. That can sometimes be really difficult but it is important for success. I keep a list of open tasks open on my desktop every day, with all tasks arranged by priorities and ensure that each task is handled per its priority rating and changing the ratings when needed. I never make promises I cannot keep, and ensure I turn things around quicker than promised.
5) Patience: This is very important. I use breathing techniques, yoga, always remembering to look at the big picture and while being a cliché, it pays to remember “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have the opportunity to have lunch with Mohamed Salah, an Egyptian soccer player who also plays for Liverpool FC in England. I admire his skills and success and most importantly, his down-to-earth attitude, compassion, philanthropy and humility; values that are very important to me.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!