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“A Great Place to Exercise Your Creativity”: A Q&A with Senior Associate Lori Arakaki

“A Great Place to Exercise Your Creativity”: A Q&A with Senior Associate Lori Arakaki

Lori C. Arakaki joined Hicks Johnson as a senior associate in March 2023. She handles complex commercial disputes before federal and state courts at both the trial and appellate levels. Previously, Lori practiced in the litigation group at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s San Francisco office. She also spent several years as an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Los Angeles office.

What have you been working on recently?

Right now, I’m working on an assortment of different matters: a dispute between two energy companies that’s about to go to trial; a few cases for other energy clients that deal with oil and gas leases; and representing a group of bank employees who are being sued for contractual breaches after beginning work for a competing bank. The level of involvement I have with clients is extremely rewarding. I’m able to provide in-depth guidance and see firsthand how it impacts the landscape of the matter.  

Is there a particular direction you’re hoping to take your practice in over the next few years?

I’ve always wanted to be a generalist, and the type of work we do at Hicks Johnson, as well as our client base, is consistent with that goal. I’m keen to develop more high-level general litigation skills, such as taking depositions and going to trial.

I also want to learn more about how Hicks Johnson approaches business generation and start generating my own. It’s a great place to exercise your creativity when doing case assessment and profitability analysis. Because this firm is on the smaller side, I have a lot of opportunities to learn from senior lawyers who have been able to grow and maintain a robust book of business. The firm has been very successful in that respect; it’s clear that companies in our market are responding positively to what we can offer them. I’m excited to see how Hicks Johnson continues its growth trajectory.  

You previously worked at two Big Law firms. How have you found the transition to a litigation boutique?

It’s been similar in that I’m still principally motivated by my desire to put out a great work product and do the best for my clients. All three firms have the same overarching objectives, but at Hicks Johnson, we have to be far more mindful of how we’re doing things. We don’t have the headcount or the resources of a large, international firm, but we are incredibly efficient—and that pays off for our clients.

As an alumna of those firms, I think I add value in my approach to the practice of law, which is highly detail-oriented. I’m good at examining every possible angle and leaving no stone unturned while still remaining focused on the client’s goals and constraints.

You work remotely from Austin. Have you been able to successfully integrate yourself into firm life?

Definitely. The partners are flexible and understanding, and they invest time and energy into keeping me in the loop. It’s an arrangement that relies on mutual effort: they’re always happy to hop on a call so we can get discuss an issue in real time, and I make it a priority to commute to the office every few weeks so we can get to know each other better.

Even though I’m not in the office every day, I’m finding it easy to make strong connections with my colleagues. Hicks Johnson has a very intimate, familial culture, so I feel like I’ve known these people for a long time despite meeting them only recently. Next month, I’ll be on site to mentor our 2023 diversity fellows, which is an experience I’m really looking forward to.