“I loved being able to peer behind the curtain of the firm’s operations,” she said. “I kept looking for ways to get more and more involved, and I just never stopped.”
Although Gutierrez had never formally studied finance or economics, she had a natural talent for financial analysis. Over the next six years, she built a reputation for crafting smart, creative pricing solutions. In 2012, she was appointed Firmwide Director of Practice Management. Since then, she has played an instrumental role in O’Melveny’s revenue planning, utilization management, strategic planning, work coordination, staffing, lateral hiring, and case management.
Gutierrez and her team ease the burden on O’Melveny’s partners through their expertise in practice and project management. Their work on one particular massive, history-making legal battle is illustrative of the value they bring to O’Melveny’s attorneys and clients alike. “The firm had more than a hundred lawyers working on this case, so it was almost like we were running a small firm within a firm,” she said. “Rather than having our attorneys focused on invoices, staffing, and budgeting, our team took the lead in such managerial matters, freeing up space for our lawyers do what they do best: advocating for our clients.”
Gutierrez and her team introduced a number of principles and processes, such as efficiency trackers to monitor the distribution of assignments, that mitigated costs while maximizing operational efficiency. They also had the vital effect of boosting morale. “When we had budget and staffing calls, we’d look at workloads and hours to make sure we weren’t calling on the same people over and over again,” she said. “In a case that went on for years and required everything we had to give, this process took so much pressure off the lawyers.”
The impact that Gutierrez and her team has had may be best captured by a complement she received from a member of the client’s legal operations team—one she says she’ll never forget: “O’Melveny is the gold standard of case management. You treat our money like it’s yours.’” That’s when Gutierrez knew her team’s efforts had really paid off.
While law school remains the road not taken, Gutierrez has no regrets. In fact, she vividly recalls the moment, more than a decade ago, when everything fell into place. “I was commuting from LA to Century City for a meeting, and as I was driving, I thought, ‘I really love my career.’” It was the first time I’d thought of it as a career rather than a job.” Now, as a member of O'Melveny's senior management team, Gutierrez can’t see herself ever leaving. “I have a seat at the table, and I’ve always been supported in my growth. This is the best place I could ever imagine working.”