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Law Practice Today

February 2024

Making It Rain: Marie DeForest Garcia

Elizabeth C Jolliffe and Marie Anna Deforest Garcia


  • Women can be excellent rainmakers if they really believe in themselves.
  • Expanding your skills and developing your brand can greatly increase career success.
  • Changing to a different avenue for rainmaking can open up new opportunities.
Making It Rain: Marie DeForest Garcia Prisecariu

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Marie DeForest Garcia is a partner with DeForest Koscelnik & Berardinelli. She combines strong leadership with a broad-based career managing complex legal concerns, business disputes, litigation and legal risk for start-up, high-growth, and Fortune 500 companies, as well as individuals. Based in New Jersey, she has a national practice and is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, West Virginia, and California. In 2019, Marie received an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School through the school’s Executive MBA Program.

Marie has served as editor of this column since 2018. As she passes the editorial torch to Elizabeth Jolliffe, we thank Marie and give her this column to share her own rainmaking advice.

Elizabeth: You have had an interesting career path practicing law on two different coasts and getting your MBA while practicing law. You now have two young children. What led you to also take on the editorial role of the Women Rainmakers column?

Marie: I signed on as editor in 2018 because I believe there is a deep value in providing women with rainmaking skills. Women are often perceived as not being traditional rainmakers, but this column has turned that perception on its face. Women are excellent at bringing in business; we just have to believe in our skills and do it each in our own way.

Elizabeth: You practice on both the East and West Coasts and are barred in six different states. Do you do anything different in your rainmaking efforts based on your geographic market?

Marie: The pulse of legal communities differs across the country, but I have found that I am the most successful at bringing in business (and keeping it) if I remain true to myself.

This brings me to my first rainmaker tip—Be You. I have engaged in a wide range of rainmaking activities throughout my career, and all of them have been with the goal of establishing long-lasting relationships. These include participating in law firm softball games, attending networking “mixers,” writing legal articles to be distributed to a larger network, and planning one-on-one events and meetings with clients and prospective clients. Through it all, I have found that I was most successful when I was myself in these different environments. For example, even in an area in which I didn’t excel—I don’t play softball well—I could cheer loudly and laugh alongside others. So, remember, Be You. You won’t be successful getting business or keeping business if you try to be something that isn’t authentic to you.

Elizabeth: You received your MBA while practicing law. How did that benefit your rainmaking efforts?

Marie: I minored in business in college and had an urge to go on to business school for a long time. Having practiced law for ten years, I felt that getting my MBA was now or never in terms of timing in my career and personal life, so I took the GMAT, applied, and was admitted. Off to Wharton’s Executive Program I went.

My goal was to give myself more skills in my current practice and to create possibilities for career growth later in my career. I didn’t have a direct rainmaking goal in getting my MBA, but I hoped that I would be exposed to peers and others who could help expand my business. I took one especially introspective class, Total Leadership with Stew Friedman. That class reinforced the need to know my “brand” and be authentic to myself in the choices that I make. I always kept my brand at the forefront of my interactions with the other students in my program, and I have found that today I really do live by that brand. Whether you are interacting with me in the grocery store, on a Board, or at my workplace, I am authentic to myself and the brand that I try to put out in the world. This rainmaker tip is Find Your Brand and Live by It.

Elizabeth: You have two young children. How do you do it all?

Marie: I don’t do it all. I have a great support system. My right-hand woman at our house is our nanny. I cannot practice law and be a mother without significant help from our nanny and from extended family. I also have learned that it is important to Give Yourself Grace, which is my next rainmaking tip. I am human. My husband is human. My children are human. Things happen on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis where I have to give myself grace. I acknowledge whatever is happening that wasn’t exactly how I intended things to go, learn from that occurrence, and move on. The same thing goes for rainmaking. You won’t always be successful. When you don’t get a client, try to be introspective about why. Learn what you can, and then move on.

Elizabeth: Do you have any other rainmaking pointers that you believe women should have top of mind?

Marie: Yes, Have a Tribe. You need other people to support you in your rainmaking efforts. I have always tried to have a mentor throughout the different points in my career. My mentors have changed as my career has evolved, but they have always been a sounding board for my thoughts and questions, and they provide me with a critique on my own performance. I believe it is also important to have friends and colleagues to support you at work and in your profession. Rainmaking can be challenging. Having other people engaging in their own efforts alongside you, who can talk with you and who can support you is important. I have a great group of friends from Wharton, and we talk about it all—professional challenges, job changes, and navigating family and work.

Always Remember the Long Game. You may meet someone as part of a group you volunteer with, and even though for years your only interaction with them is in that volunteer space, that person can still become a rainmaking source. If you enjoy whatever efforts you are engaging in, the fact that it may take years to develop business from those efforts won’t really matter to you. You’ll be enjoying what you are doing as the relationship develops. And remember, the way you portray yourself in that volunteer setting can impact how you are perceived as a business partner. The long game matters.

If You Want to Make a Change, Try It. Too often we think that change must be permanent. It can be, but it doesn’t always have to be. If you want to try a different avenue in rainmaking, go try it. It can be good to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and many times your comfort zone expands as a result. But if you find you hate whatever rainmaking activity you are doing, try something else.

I have a good friend who decided to join Toastmasters to develop more relationships in the community. However, as much as he really wanted to develop the relationships, after attending a few Toastmaster events he realized that he hated the pressure of having to always be ready to publicly speak. That business development idea just wasn’t a good fit for him. Instead, he decided to join a local political committee for which he had more passion. He has kept with that for several years now and developed many relationships with people in the community that he never would have otherwise met.

So, if one activity isn’t a fit, don’t be afraid to make a change and try another rainmaking idea. If it doesn’t work out, try something else. With time, you’ll find your rainmaking niche where you will excel.