#18 Call Of Duty Helped Me Hire A Lawyer
I help run a company called HyperDraft, Inc. which makes tools for lawyers and legal professionals. We recently hired Sean Greaney as our as our first ever General Counsel and this is the story of how we met and how I was able to convince him to join the team.
It was early 2020, we’d just recently opened the doors for the Santa Monica office of the law firm I was working at (Goodwin Procter). I was giving a tour of the office to my longtime friend and newly recruited associate Louis Marshall. The same day I was giving Louis a tour, I’d heard that two new partners joined the firm. Because the Santa Monica team was such a tight knit team, I figured I’d bring the unofficial welcoming crew along to say hi. We walked over to the corner office, and I stuck my head in, frankly a bit surprised at seeing a big scruffy 6' 3’’ guy behind the desk. Sean stood up to greet us, his face looking a bit perplexed why a group of folks were stationed in front of his office. He walked over and found a spot against the wall and awkwardly leaned against it, and then he started telling stories. We wrapped the impromptu welcoming committee about 15 minutes later, and as we walked away, I looked at Louis and said “So, that guy is you in 10 years, you know that right?” Louis smiled and nodded in agreement.
A few days later, the other Santa Monica attorneys were planning to do our bi-weekly happy hour and we thought it’d be a good idea to turn it into a welcoming party for the new attorneys. I saw Sean there, but we didn’t really have a chance to chat. I was too busy yapping it up with the others. (Side point: I don’t want readers to get the wrong idea, I sincerely hated hanging out with law firm coworkers in the past, but Goodwin was somehow exceptionally good at assembling a crew of people that I vibed with. Super smart. Super hardworking individuals and team players. Just thought I’d drop that note lest anyone make the wrong assumption.)
A week or two after the happy hour, the pandemic hit and the world shutdown.
Over the coming weeks and months, while the world was trying to figure out what to do with itself, my team and I were crushed by deal after deal. I’m an M&A and venture finance attorney, but I had a bunch of clients that needed outside general counsel help that I just didn’t have the time for. They weren’t super complex matters, but it turns out that I’m human and have to sleep at some point. Apart from chatting with Louis and Jace (my future co-founder) for our deals, I wasn’t really chatting with anyone else, and I couldn’t find anyone in the office to help because we were all overloaded. After consulting with Michele Blay, one of my favorite people in the world and my ADM at the time (truth be told I have no idea what ADM stands for, I just referred to Michele as my handler), she told me to reach out to Sean Greaney because he seemed nice and might be willing to help me out. Just to be clear, Sean is much more experienced than I am (yes, that is a subtle jab at calling him old), so asking him to help me out was a long shot at best and rude at worst. To my surprise he was enthusiastic and willing to jump in. For the next few weeks, Sean handled the matters for a few of my clients and I constantly got phone calls and text messages about how much they liked him. It made me appreciate how skilled of an attorney he was and even more perplexed why he would be helping me out.
Then, one random Friday after a debrief call on a deal we were doing together, Sean asked me what I was going to do to decompress. I told him that like many folks I had picked up video games again when the pandemic hit. He asked what game, and naturally I said Call of Duty (CoD). He said he played CoD as well. I thought, so a successful big law partner plays video games. Man this guy is just full of surprises. I invited him to game with me, Louis, and Jace. For folks in Biglaw or the legal field in general that are reading this, there’s probably a myriad of feelings here. Ranging from “I really don’t care about this” to “Umm, excuse me, why are you playing video games with a partner at a major law firm” all the way to “HAHA NERDS.” For the rest of the world, you have to understand that at a law firm, this is like saying one of the interns was playing video games with the CEO. It’s a bit, let’s say, unorthodox. That said, I don’t care that much about titles (see this article) and frankly I was more concerned about: (1) is Sean actually any good at CoD, and (2) how the heck am I going to put on a performance.
We took it slow. Started with CoD multiplayer and won nearly every game we played. Then we graduated to Warzone. Turns out, Sean is very good at CoD, not only skills wise but objective and team wise. He’s willing to throw his (literal and figurative) body on the grenade every time to help the team win. This is when I realized that our CoD playing styles were pretty much the way we operated in the real world. Jace was always there to help a brother in a pinch. You’d need something and he was there. Louis was the strategist, being the aficionado of video games that he is and is instrumental in helping us survive. Me, well, apparently, I’m bossy and calling shots left and right. Sean describes my play style (as well as my lawyering style) as akin to John Wick. I’ll take it.
And finally, Sean — the consummate team player. He’s there when you need him and always pushing to get the team up first and foremost, and the objective second. In Warzone, a player can get “downed” meaning that if they suffer enough damage, they are on the ground until a team member picks them up. In a firefight, if any of us were downed, you’ll see Sean’s character sprinting like a madman to come pick us up and drag us to the finish line. Of course, it’s much easier to sacrifice in a video game, which is why it was important that I’d also seen his character in real life as well. I would never remind Sean of this because he’d just downplay it, but even before we decided to pull him onto the team, I had partners and associates provide unsolicited praise for his working style. Why?
Because Sean has no ego around rank and file, he’s willing to get in and do the work for the benefit of the client. There’s no work that he deems beneath him. He cares about the client and about the work product that goes out. He has rules. He has discipline. He shares this mentality with the rest of the HyperDraft team, so naturally I was going to do everything I could to get him on our team again.
We left Goodwin Procter in early 2021, but we were still working with Sean and Anthony McCusker (head of Goodwin’s Tech Practice). If I’m being completely honest, I probably could’ve done a chunk of the legal work myself, but I knew that I wanted Sean to join HyperDraft. To do that, I knew I had to show, not talk, about what we were doing. First, we started off by showing him the software, then we showed him how fast we could execute. While other legal tech vendors were still discussing and promising things to him, we would already be done pushing new features. I showed him every deal we brought in and every excited client that we on-boarded. I think the most important thing for Sean was being able to use the software and realize how much more time he could spend with his wife and his two daughters while still pushing out great work product.
As you can tell, I’m not bullshitting when I say I’m extremely excited for Sean to officially join our team later this month. It’s funny because when we’re playing CoD, Sean is constantly telling us “I got your six” (meaning he’s very close behind and covering our backs).
Now it gets to be my turn. I got your six brother. Welcome aboard, let’s do this.