Among the attorneys featured in our DEI Annual Report is M. Ramana Rameswaran, who was to partner in 2022, about three years after he joined the firm as an associate in the Health Care practice.
Personable, creative and passionate about his practice, Ramana also is a strong believer in the power of good mentoring relationships, casual and formal. He credits his career success to the reputation he built in his legal work and his work nationally on behalf of the legal profession with the American Bar Association (ABA). Ramana spoke about his rise to partnership with Law.com and wrote about the value of mentoring at Bloomberg Law. What follows is our own Q&A with Ramana about becoming a partner at Katten.
What experiences were instrumental in your journey to becoming a partner?
I’m in the fortunate position of having a wide breadth of experiences within my field, working with a range of clients on a variety of topics that gave me a well-rounded view of health care. But I think what has really helped is being able to step outside of the firm and be active in the local and legal community. By volunteering, I’ve gained a greater appreciation of what’s happening in my world as a whole and been able to establish a network of people I can count on. This gave me a leg up when I was up for partnership.
In 2022, you were selected to participate in the Kattalyst Sponsorship Program. How has Katten supported your advancement at the firm?
Katten provided incredible training opportunities, from associate retreats to the Katten Kattalyst program. The firm has always supported any work that I’ve wanted or needed to do within ABA or other professional organizations. The firm truly supports getting your name out there, which of course, helps in advancement internally.
During the Kattalyst program, I worked with my sponsor partner, Howard Schickler, co-chair of the Structured Finance and Securitization practice, on creating business plans. I learned about the firm’s economics and how to best receive and solicit feedback. I also benefitted from one-on-one coaching on leadership and business development.
Since my elevation to partner, I’ve been a proud member of the firm’s Partner Collective on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, an affinity group that helps diverse attorneys build connections through events and opportunities to voice perspectives on recruitment and retention to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging.
As a first-generation South Asian immigrant and attorney, why are diversity, equity and inclusion important to you?
I didn’t have any family that went through law school or became lawyers, at least in the United States. It took an active effort to learn what I was supposed to do at each step. Luckily, because of other lawyers before me that had gone through the same things, paving the way and actively supporting me, I was able to overcome many obstacles. More on point, everyone comes from a different background. And that’s great, something that should be celebrated as a strength. Having different perspectives, along with solid DEI initiatives that make people open to sharing those perspectives, enables us to present solutions for clients and have more empathy for one another.
You’ve been active with DEI as an ABA presidential appointee to the Council on Diversity in Educational Pipeline and on the ABA Health Law Section’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. What are your goals for the legal profession with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion?
My major goal is to continue the notion of mentorship and sponsorship within Katten and the broader profession. I’ve benefited from diverse and non-diverse people helping me along the way, but I’ve learned how important it has been for me, as a diverse lawyer, to have people to talk to and connect with. Mentorship is a two-way street and really is about lifting everyone up, as I have been lifted onto the shoulders of those who came before me. I hope to do the same for others.
What is your advice to lawyers who are just entering the profession?
Get out there and network. Whether it’s the ABA, another legal organization or something else, be active and engaged. Don’t wait to find things that you can be involved within the profession or your community. Making these connections and building these bridges will inevitably plant the seeds for future opportunities. Best of all, you’ll have fun and meet interesting people along the way.