Continental Breakfast: Bracewell's Rudy Giuliani
“Part of [the reason Bracewell hired] me was I knew New York,” Giuliani says. One of his first moves was to bring in Marc Mukasey, the former deputy chief appellate attorney and chief of the narcotics unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, who now leads Bracewell’s white-collar practice. "Half of the litigators in New York [have] worked for me, so I could pick out the good ones," he adds.
Giuliani admits that his knowledge of the London legal scene is less intimate—“I don’t know London the way I know New York, so I’m not going to be helpful picking out [lateral hires]”—but says he will help the firm “in any way” he can. He'll be interviewing incoming partners, and helping the London office develop business with both the Middle East, which he says he knows “really well,” and Africa, which he visited in 2012 but is “more a work in progress.” Indeed, for all of his experience and prowess as a lawyer, it is clear that Giuliani’s principal role at Bracewell is to serve as an ambassador. His is a name that opens doors, while his access to senior contacts at government agencies and regulators could prove invaluable to clients—particularly in sectors as heavily regulated as energy.
I ask Giuliani whether his name carries as much weight on the other side of the Atlantic.
“It does, yes—people know me,” he says without even a hint of modesty. “Not as much as in the U.S., but if I call someone, I can get their attention. If I call up [former U.K. prime minister] Tony Blair, he’ll return the call, just as an example.”
Giuliani says Bracewell’s success in New York—having started with just five attorneys, the office has over the past eight years grown to almost 100—has given the firm renewed confidence in its ability to better tackle London. It would have done so earlier, in fact, had the recession not got in the way.
“We were all set to do this back in 2007,” he says. “When I lost [the presidential primary race] in 2008, one of the things I was really excited about was that we were going to [build our] office in London. But then the world fell apart, and we had to take off the board all our projects, because we didn’t know where we were going to be the year after.”
Does Giuliani himself know where he’ll be in a few years’ time? Each of his previous stints in private practice—with White & Case and Anderson Kill & Olick—lasted no more than three years. His last political run ended disastrously, after he failed to win a single caucus or primary election, but does he still harbor any presidential ambitions? With an American flag button pinned to his left lapel and a pair of ostentatious gold cufflinks bearing the official seal of New York City, he still looks every inch the politician.
“I haven’t ruled anything out, but right now I’m not thinking about that—not even in my deep dark thoughts,” he says. And then, with a wry smile: “Ask me a year from now, when the temptation is greater, and we’ll see.”
When he considers the prospect of sitting in the Oval Office, and given his previous experience as mayor during one of the city’s most dramatic and terrible events, does returning to the more mundane practice of law not feel a bit, well, anticlimactic?
“No!” he shouts, erupting into a belly laugh. “This is where I started. My reputation may be as mayor of New York, but I’m much more of a lawyer than a politician. At the back of my mind, I always [knew that I] wanted to practice law again—it was my first love, my great love. I’ve always been happiest as a lawyer.”