HOUSTON, TX - October 15, 2020 - Like any first-year associate, Richard Ramirez knew he was in for many long days and the reality that he would have to work on whatever project was sent his way. Little did he know that one of the first projects he was asked to work on would last nearly six years! Richard, a first-year partner who works on estate planning, including wills, trusts, and business succession planning, found himself working with a client whose family had been represented by Baker Botts for nearly two generations. Due to an unexpected death, Richard was asked to help out one of the other associates on this case that ended up in litigation. For nearly six years, Richard continued to work on the case with other attorneys at the firm through all the appeal court filings and right up to the Supreme Court where the firm won at each step along the way. Baker Botts won on summary judgment, an unusual occurrence.
The case only solidified Richard's interest in estate planning. "For me, it's dealing with individuals," Richard explains. "For example, my corporate counterparts are dealing with other attorneys, with general counsel, with companies and CEOs. … It can't compare to helping somebody who built a business from the ground up who has now come into quite a bit of money. … The sum of it really is the personal nature of it and getting to know the clients, getting to know their families, and making sure that we achieve the client's intent."
Richard doesn't hesitate to say his opportunity to work with Stephen Dyer, chair of the private clients' section in Baker Botts' tax department, has been impactful. "I like the way, not only that he handles the workflow internally, but the way he talks to the clients, the way he explains things to clients," Richard says. "He has been a role model for me. Not only has he been a model for what kind of a lawyer I want to be, [but also] in the way I want to practice law generally. He's also been a champion for me here within the firm."
Dyer's approach is what Richard believes is one of Baker Botts' key assets. Richard passionately asserts that "Baker Botts lawyers practice law differently than most other law firms. Everything here must be done at the highest level at all times. It's not that way, surprisingly, everywhere. Not everyone thinks that every answer needs to be run down. There is no winging it here. In other words, we make sure that we know exactly what needs to be done and we know exactly how to get it done … and it must be done in the most ethical way possible."
Growing up in El Paso, Richard thought he might end up following in the footsteps of his father, Joe, who constantly inspires him. As a young boy, Joe and his mom (Richard's mother) moved to El Paso from Juarez, Mexico. He didn't know any English and a lack of English as a Second Language programs or Bilingual programs in the 1960's lead to him being held back a grade. That didn't stop Joe. He worked so hard to learn English that he ended up skipping two grade levels during his school years and becoming valedictorian of his high school – Riverside High. Richard's dad went on to New Mexico State where he graduated with a degree in accounting. He then spent the first part of his career working at several of the world's largest accounting firms, including Arthur Anderson and Coopers & Lybrand (now, PwC). Currently, he's the CFO of a company in El Paso. "That trajectory is just amazing to me," says Richard, who has a B.B.A. in Accounting from Texas A&M University and a J.D. from the University of Texas.
Was his dad upset that he became a lawyer? "No, actually, you know I didn't know this until probably around the time that I was applying for law school, but my dad had always wanted to be a lawyer," Richard recalls. "And I always wanted to be a lawyer since I can remember. If ever asked "what do you want to be when you grow up," I would always say 'I want to be a lawyer.' So, it kind of makes me think, that [my dad] was whispering in my ear late at night and planted the seed early."
Despite many long hours, Richard comes home to his wife, seven-year-old son, Michael, and new baby, Sophia. About once a month, you might find Richard and several of his buddies tinkering with a recipe for their latest craft beer. He's invested in all the equipment. "I even built a couple kegerators with my buddies and put them in the garage so that we can have our own kegged beer on tap at all times."
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