Strive to be the most knowledgeable in the room about the facts and legal issues of your case.

An experienced litigator who serves as vice-chair of our firm’s Business Litigation practice group, attorney Andrea Marconi is well known for her profound impact on our clients’ businesses, as well as her positive impact on our community – with her commitment to organizations such as the Arizona Humane Society and the Phoenix Suns charities.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Andrea about her practice, and life in the law.

You’re quickly becoming one of our firm’s most high-profile litigators through your work in the courtroom and the community! As the second quarter of 2022 begins, are you seeing any business litigation trends here in Phoenix – and nationally?

Providing excellent client service has always been the backbone of practicing law. But as 2022 continues, it is clear that lawyers who do not innovate and focus on how to serve their clients more efficiently and effectively will lose out. Clients have more choices for their legal work than ever before. Gone are the days when a law firm can be comfortable simply because it has represented a company for years and doing good work has always been enough. Especially in light of recent changes in Arizona law allowing nonlawyer-owned alternative service providers, competition is steeper than ever and lawyers need to adapt. In litigation, this involves more dynamic budgeting and using budgets as roadmaps rather than just static documents. It involves incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into document review and discovery or outsourcing as appropriate and continuing to innovate with alternative fee arrangements that are win-wins for clients and lawyers.

In Phoenix and across the country, virtual litigation is likely to continue in some form. As the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many litigators like myself hope to return in person to the courtroom for arguments and trials and to conduct in-person depositions, mediation, and arbitrations. I think there is an appetite from both practitioners and the bench to conduct more lengthy proceedings in person. But we can’t ignore that the legal system has largely become comfortable with the “new normal” of virtual litigation. Thus, I think we can expect the shift to Zoom, Teams, and the like to continue for routine hearings as well as some depositions and shorter proceedings because of the efficiency and cost-effectiveness for all involved.

Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on?

Now, as always, the most interesting part of my career has been employing the broad strategies used in litigation to a wide variety of industries. In each case, I not only need to be the legal expert, but I also have to become an expert about the inner-workings of my clients’ businesses and the industries in which they work. My cases have taken me on some amazing intellectual journeys, learning about, for instance, the intricacies of pharmaceutical pricing, engineering and construction, credit card and EFT processing, numerous forms of new technology, and medical and insurance issues. One day I can be seen poring over engineering drawings of a piece of construction at the heart of a case, the next day I may be learning about a specific medical condition with the help of a physician, and the next day I may be learning about the regulatory world of financial payment processing or even how a new restaurant developed its unique brand so that I can protect that brand in an infringement suit. It is this diversity and constant learning that keeps me coming back for more.

What would you tell your younger self – or a 1L at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law now contemplating a career in the legal profession?

From a professional standpoint – always be prepared and focus on the details. Strive to be the most knowledgeable in the room about the facts and legal issues of your case. I quickly learned in my career that the antidote to youth and inexperience when I was coming up through the ranks (and even still sometimes today), is being the most prepared in the room. Preparedness is the great equalizer and will help you succeed even against others who may have more experience, but often use that experience as a crutch and do not prepare as thoroughly as they should.

Personally, when I mentor law students, especially women, I’m not shy about saying that this career, which is intellectually challenging, important, and sometimes even fun, is tough, so you need to mentally prepare yourself for that and develop a thicker skin.

You also need to allow yourself grace. Particularly as a working mother who is committed equally to my family and my career, it’s not all Wonder Woman all of the time. Sometimes you are going to fall and that’s okay. You just need to pick yourself up, take a deep breath, and move forward. You have to allow yourself not to be perfect all of the time.

Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?

My parents have had the greatest impact on my life. I am very fortunate to have two incredibly supportive parents who raised me to work hard, dream big, and never take no for an answer. I am my mother’s daughter who spends every day trying to give my boys the same love, care, and attention that my mom has given me – I figure if I can be half the mom to my boys that my mom was and is to me, I’ll be doing okay.

I am also a bit of a daddy’s girl. The kitchen table debates with my dad growing up helped me hone my skills of persuasion and the tenacity that he taught me has helped make me who I am today.

Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?

One of my biggest failures was in my personal life when I was younger and a failed relationship that caused a trajectory of changes in my life that I wasn’t prepared for at the time. I have always been a planner and when my young person’s perfectly crafted plan for my future fell apart, I had to learn how to quickly adapt, pick myself up, and move forward one step at a time. I learned that, sometimes, the most perfectly laid plan will get disrupted and you have to trust in yourself and pivot to get back on track – perhaps even a new track that may be better than the original track.

What’s the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

WhenI was a young lawyer, one of my mentors advised me to “say yes” and take on projects and assignments that stretch you outside of your comfort zone and push you to learn and grow.  She told me that I would know I was growing when at least every six months or so I did something new at work that terrified me just a little bit. I live by this today and try to always think about how I can stretch myself and be a little scared in that great way of growth.

Like others, I’ve also received some less than useful advice along the way. One piece of advice I got early on was to “be more like the guys.” I suppose the point of this was to help me fit into the law, which was and is still a fairly male-dominated profession. I learned quickly, however, that law is like anything else in life – when you are professional and always treat others the way you wish to be treated and have some confidence in who you are and what you do, you don’t have to be more like anyone else. Just be yourself, be curious, be tough but friendly, and enjoy the people around you.

What are you listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming?

I am a politics junkie and listen to numerous political podcasts every week, including some of my favorites  –  Slate’s Political Gabfest and Pod Save America. I love to read fiction especially before I go to bed to help take my brain away from all the stress and chaos of my days. Right now, I’m reading The Exiles, which is about a group of women in the 1840s who are exiled from England to what is now Australia and forge amazing relationships there.

I love TV as well – I’m eagerly awaiting Part II of the last season of Ozark. I also watch some light and silly shows to take my mind of things. I love the new season of Bridgerton, and just finished the last season of Emily in Paris. Both are less than highbrow, but great fun. Fun fact about me – I have a musical theater background and still love Broadway show tune music.

Okay, last but not least, you and your husband, along with your two amazing sons are hosting a lavish dinner party at your home. Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you’d invite.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg – one of my heroes. A woman who believed in change and institutions (two things sometimes people think are mutually exclusive, but they are not). A devoted mother and wife (frankly, I would love to have met Marty Ginsburg too!). An intellectual and legal giant.

Monty Williams, James Jones, Devin Booker and Chris Paul – Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Phoenix Suns fan.  I would love to have this basketball brain trust for dinner to hear all about how the magic that I see on the court happens.

Elizabeth “Eliza” Hamilton – Alexander Hamilton gets all the glory and musicals written about him, but I find Eliza fascinating. Yes, she is a woman who was widowed at a young age with a number of children, but that isn’t her story. She is an extraordinary philanthropist who, among other things, devoted herself to establishing free schools for children in New York to become literate when their families couldn’t afford a private education, and she founded New York City’s first private home for orphaned children – all while raising her own family on her own. A pretty impressive woman.

Many thanks to Andrea for your inspiring insights!

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