At its core, the legal profession is about serving the client’s interests, effectively, ethically, and with integrity, says Arun Thomas, managing attorney of litigation at FedEx Ground. Serving his clients, serving his colleagues, and serving those affected by his work have been the cornerstones of his success as a lawyer.
“When you have that genuine care and concern for the success of others, that is what drives success on our litigation team and in other endeavors,” he says. Thomas manages a group of what he calls seasoned litigators who are exceptionally capable and have established tremendous track records by handling all manner of government-related investigations, litigations, and commercial disputes over the course of their careers.
Thomas’s father immigrated from India and earned an MBA from Duquesne University. When he was a child, Thomas’s parents made it clear to him and his older sister that the United States was rife with opportunity for immigrants and citizens alike. Their optimism sparked his interest in the business world and American capitalism. “That’s really where my focus and energy was,” Thomas remembers. “My dad was a teacher who taught economics and finance. I even took a few of his classes in high school.”
While his mother and father bestowed optimism, his older sister provided career inspiration. Following in her father’s footsteps, she earned a degree in business, but ultimately decided to pursue a law degree. “That gave me a view into law school, and it got me thinking about a legal career,” Thomas says. “My thought was that a legal degree would provide an opportunity to potentially participate in a career that melded both law and business.”
While attending Georgetown Law School, Thomas went skiing with a high school friend who was also pursuing a law degree. As they shared their plans for the future, his friend mentioned that he had interned with the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). “He told me, ‘if you have any interest in litigation as a career, then you should consider the JAG Corps because there are great opportunities there for attorneys to handle litigation matters and take cases to trial early in your career as compared to private practice,’” recalls Thomas.
Not only did such a career path appeal to Thomas, it was also in accord with the feelings of gratitude his parents expressed toward the US. “It piqued my interest,” he adds.
With no military background in his family or personal service background, Thomas joined the Army directly after law school and immediately began trying his own docket of cases for the JAG Corps, a career move that would pay innumerable dividends in the future. “It gave me litigation experience in an early part of my career that wouldn’t have been available to me in other arenas or with other organizations,” says Thomas.
Thomas spent four years with the JAG Corps, shaping his law career and developing his personal legal philosophy and world view. A lawyer’s job is not just to say “no,” but to contemplate a course of action and work creatively with the client to reach acceptable legal solutions, says Thomas. The JAG Corps, and the military in general, has a “hyper focus” on performing a set of duties with integrity and honor. “Those sensibilities were ingrained in me,” he says. “I learned how to be a professional, how to be a professional lawyer beyond just litigating cases, and what it takes to put a case together successfully for trial.”
The most valuable skill he honed as a JAG Corps attorney, and one he’d later use in his role at FedEx Ground, is the ability to dispense legal advice to commanders within a larger organization whose goal is not necessarily focused on litigation. This laid the groundwork for his style and method of providing legal advice. “They needed practical, creative solutions from their lawyers, and it was a tremendous help in what I do today,” says Thomas.
Litigation skills aside, the military’s laser focus on teamwork impacted Thomas’s world view and provided him a greater appreciation for working on a team, serving others, and leading a team of litigators. “These are principals and ideals that I started paying close attention to early in my career,” says Thomas.
After leaving the Army, Thomas spent fourteen years in private practice, litigating pharma and commercial cases for K&L Gates and then Eckert Seamans. “Arun and I have partnered in tough battles over the years, including sensitive and sweeping litigation where true collaboration is essential,” says Rebecca Weinstein Bacon, partner at Bartlit Beck LLP. “Arun’s unique legal insights, enthusiasm, and dedication make him a fantastic leader and attorney.”
Today, he applies these lessons learned as he works with the managing director of his group leading a team of accomplished litigation professionals representing FedEx Ground. “Our teams effectively handle a significant amount of work in-house,” he says. “Our teams litigate their own docket of cases and they do so frequently and successfully.”
His time as a soldier, litigating in private practice, and managing a team of litigation professionals at FedEx Ground has taught Thomas one valuable lesson. “How you interact with people and how you treat them with respect is critically important,” Thomas says. Building positive working relationships, being curious and inquisitive, and learning new things have all brought the managing attorney a number of professional opportunities, for which he considers himself exceedingly fortunate.
Renowned for simplifying the most complex matters, Bartlit Beck has achieved a remarkable record of courtroom victories in high-stakes, complex litigation since 1993. The firm’s successes include trial wins, victories on motions and appeals, and creative settlements across the gamut of commercial litigation, intellectual property, antitrust and unfair trade practices, breach of contract, shareholder disputes, and product liability. Bartlit Beck’s accolades, including being named the “2020 Trial Firm of the Year” by Benchmark Litigation, commend the firm’s commitment to clients and its reputation for excellence. In a survey conducted by consulting firm BTI of 350 in-house leaders, Bartlit Beck was identified as one of the top nine firms in the United States for “striking the utmost fear into the hearts of seasoned general counsel and legal decision makers.”