Texas Lawyer Trailblazers: Stephen Crain




Stephen B. Crain Bracewell

When Stephen Crain took over Bracewell’s litigation sec- tion, everything was fine – but just fine. “If the litigation section was going to go from being good but static to a new place, we were going to have to do things differently.”He worked to break down traditional silos and create, in es- sence, a litigation boutique inside a large firm. “Easy thing to say. Great catch- phrase. But it had to have meaning.” Six years later, the section is recognized for its courtroom success – and is made up of “a happy and contented group of people who feel really excited about prosecuting the cases they have.”

Bracewell’s silos were built around senior partners; lawyers didn’t identify as belonging to litigation or another section, but to a certain senior attorney’s group. Crain tried to change that thinking. No longer would those attorneys’ groups have their own weekly meetings and social events, as gatherings would become more “organic.” Crain changed office assignments to have litigators work more closely together and would share work among Bracewell’s law- yers in different cities. At the same time, he flattened the leadership hierarchy, reducing administrative oversight. “It freed us up to be a littlemore entrepreneurial –maybe a lot more entrepreneurial – and our younger partners felt more involved early on in the development of the section.” At 55 and in the prime of his career, Crain is as old as any partner in his section. But he already is planning for younger lawyers to ascend to leadership roles. The idea is to “raise the next generation of leadership so that I eventually and appropriately become irrelevant.”When he retires, “the next group comes along, and they’ve been raised in this culture. Their attitude is to maintain it and grow it. That’s my goal.”

Reprinted with permission from the October/November 2019 edition of Texas Lawyer © 2019 ALMMedia Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-257-3382 or reprints@alm.com. # TXL-08152019-411630

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