Butzel selects Paul Mersino to be law firm’s next CEO

Detroit-based law firm Butzel has selected Paul Mersino to be the new president and CEO as its longtime leader passes the reins to the next generation.

Mersino, 39, takes the helm from Justin Klimko, 66, who has served in the position for about 12 years and will continue his practice and advising Mersino at the firm.

Mersino, who will take on the elevated title in March, said profitable growth is a top priority.

“Our goal and desire is to give the best service and to be the most profitable for our shareholders, and those two things can be very much aligned,” Mersino told Crain’s. “We want to add top rate, quality attorneys, and we want to do so in a profitable way, so we never want to add numbers just for the sake of adding numbers.”

Butzel’s leadership transition is the result of a nomination process launched by the firm after Klimko’s decision to step down.

“We are excited to transition Firm leadership to the next generation of leaders,” Klimko said in a news release. “Paul will be an enthusiastic and effective president. Working with the rest of our board, he will strive to continue our culture of collegiality and excellence.”

Mersino, a 2021 Crain’s 40 Under Forty honoree, interned at Butzel while in law school and has been with the firm 14 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwood University in Midland and his juris doctor degree from Ave Maria School of Law in Florida.

Mersino has been involved in complex commercial litigation, including multimillion-dollar trade secret cases. A large part of his practice centers on disputes among automotive suppliers — the “bread and butter” of Butzel’s business.

Business has been good as of late, for Butzel and other law firms around town. The supply chain snarls of the past two years are still rippling throughout the industry and leading to discord between suppliers and automakers.

Mersino, who has served on Butzel’s board of directors the past two years, said expanding and upholding the firm’s 170-year legacy is top of mind.

Butzel has added a dozen attorneys in the past year for a total of about 150. Mersino sees opportunity for growth in numbers and reach.

“We’ve already added a lot of great attorneys this year and the past few years, and we’re excited about some new growth coming up that we’ll be announcing soon,” he said.