Elizabeth Shea Fries is the managing partner of Sidley’s Boston office and a partner in the Investment Funds practice group, providing strategic advice on transactions, business and investment structures and regulatory matters. Liz is also a Boston co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee.
“Once I started studying and then practicing law, I realized it was the puzzles that I enjoy…I like to say that structuring is my superpower.”
What attracted you to the practice of law and what aspect of your practice do you enjoy the most?
When I was in elementary school and figured out one could get paid to argue, that sounded like a good job to me! Once I started studying and then practicing law, I realized it was the puzzles that I enjoy—deal structures, fund structures, regulatory challenges, multiple priorities, conflicting legal or economic goals that need to be unpacked. I like to say that structuring is my superpower.
Tell us about a professional goal you are proud of achieving, and what (or who) inspired you to go for it.
I was very pleased to see the most recent client review summary about me that says, “She cares a lot about her clients.” I was inspired by a dear mentor who died a decade ago and was remembered as having had “astounding breadth of knowledge and a rare ability to connect on a personal level with his clients.” Those are both things to which I aspire.
What is the most memorable deal you led and what made it so memorable?
The things that are most memorable to me are building businesses that go on to succeed, often starting when the founders have not even chosen a name. Early in my career as a partner, I helped put Affiliated Managers Group on the map. I was working harder than at any other time, running or coordinating two acquisitions, private equity financing, sub debt financing and senior debt financing inside of about three months while my colleagues were moving forward with their IPO that I was helping to structure and support. I was working with a GC and a senior partner whom I really liked and respected, and we had a fabulous time doing it all. I remember going from one conference room to another all summer negotiating with different parties and then ultimately closing five deals in three days. When the GC and I set off for the final set of meetings out of town, and we stopped by to say goodbye to the senior partner, he leaned out of his office and waved saying, “Have fun storming the castle.” It was challenging, but the teamwork and the adrenaline made it fun.
On a personal note, what has been your go-to self-care activity in this remote work environment?
I expanded my workout schedule to include more yoga, and I read novels in a hot bath as often as I can (and wish it were more often!).
Can you share with us a saying or quote that gives you inspiration or helps you stay centered?
“You don’t have to do it, you get to do it.” I like to reframe how I react to challenges in the work context by remembering how lucky we are to practice with the colleagues and clients that we do and at the highest levels of our profession.