Seven major law firms welcome new leaders in 2023, including a trio of lawyers that will become the first women to hold the top roles at their firms.
The leaders take the reins amid a slowdown that has pumped the brakes on the transactions work that had propelled revenue and profits to new highs at many firms.
“While the uncertainty across global markets presents a potential challenge for the legal profession and our clients, planning for potential downturns comes with the territory when leading any large organization,” said Faegre Drinker chair-elect Gina Kastel in an email.
Jones Day: Greg Shumaker
Jones Day has its first new managing partner in two decades after Greg Shumaker took over Jan. 1.
The Washington lawyer and 35-year veteran of the firm replaces Stephen Brogan, who helped Jones Day establish itself as a powerful player in the nation’s capital. Brogan began telling colleagues in early 2021 he would relinquish the role by year’s end, prompting speculation about who he would pick as his successor.
Shumaker joins an exclusive club: Only eight people have held the managing partner title in Jones Day’s 130-year history.
Shumaker, formerly the head of Jones Day’s global disputes practice, has focused much of his career on complicated litigation related to major bankruptcy cases, including those involving the City of Detroit and several large auto manufacturers.
Fragomen: Lance Kaplan & Enrique Gonzalez
Global corporate immigration law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy is seeing a leadership change for the first time in 50-plus years.
Lance Kaplan and Enrique Gonzalez take over this month as co-chairs of the firm. They succeed firm founder and current chairman, Austin Fragomen, as the landscape of immigration law and global mobility continues to grow more complex.
“Heading into 2023, we’re well positioned to weather an economic downturn, should that come to fruition,” said Kaplan, who was previously managing partner for Fragomen’s international practice group.
Fragomen was founded in 1951 as a small boutique and has since grown into an international operation with more than 6,000 employees across more than 60 offices in 170 countries.
“The pandemic has had a tremendous impact on global mobility and has created a shift in traditional thinking,” said Gonzalez, who previously was managing partner in the firm’s Miami office.
“We believe these trends will continue to shape our interconnected world and Fragomen will continue to be the leader that helps clients adapt and thrive in this new environment,” he said.
Faegre Drinker: Gina Kastel
Faegre Drinker elected Gina Kastel as its next chair in November, making her the law firm’s first female chair.
Kastel, who co-chairs the firm’s compensation committee, officially takes over on April 1. The Minnesota-based partner succeeds co-chairs Tom Froehle and Andrew Kassner, who served as co-chairs of the firm since the combination of Drinker Biddle & Reath and Faegre Baker Daniels in February 2020.
“At a time when we see women leaving the legal profession, it is important to have women stepping into leadership roles,” Kastel said. “It’s been especially gratifying to hear the excitement of our firm’s women lawyers, staff and alumni about having our first female chair.”
The firm is now among the 50 largest by revenue in the country. Its litigation, regulatory, and transactions practices make Faegre Drinker “well-positioned” to handle any economic headwinds on the horizon, she said.
Seyfarth Shaw: Lorie Almon
Lorie Almon is also making history at her firm, elected to become the first woman leader at Seyfarth Shaw in its nearly 80 years of business.
Almon is an employment litigator and co-managing partner of Seyfarth’s New York office. She will initially serve as chair-elect alongside the firm’s current leader, Peter Miller, who will step down in the second half of 2023.
Chicago-founded Seyfarth has long been known as a labor and employment powerhouse, advising a wide range of corporations on workplace and other matters. The firm has more than 900 lawyers in 17 offices worldwide.
Dechert: David Forti and Mark Thierfelder
Philadelphia-based Dechert is set for a leadership shakeup in the new year as David Forti and Mark Thierfelder become firmwide co-chairs in July.
Forti is co-chair of Dechert’s global finance and real estate practice, while Mark Thierfelder leads the firm’s corporate and securities group and its global private equity practice.
The pair will be joined in the leadership suite by Sabina Comis and Vincent Cohen Jr., elected the firm’s first global managing partners. Comis is co-managing partner of Dechert’s Paris office, and Cohen heads its US white collar practice.
The new leadership team succeeds Andy Levander, Dechert’s chair since 2011, and Henry Nassau, its CEO since 2016.
Snell & Wilmer: Barbara Dawson
Snell & Wilmer will also welcome its first female chair in the firm’s history when Phoenix-based partner Barbara Dawson takes over in April.
Dawson, an investigations and litigation lawyer, is a member of the firm’s executive and compensation committees. She replaces Matthew Feeney, who has led the firm since 2015 and spearheaded its recent expansion efforts.
Snell & Wilmer, founded in Arizona, has opened offices in California, Oregon and Texas. The firm will continue its expansion across its broad geography that spans the Western part of the U.S. plus Washington, D.C., and Los Cabos, Mexico, Dawson said.
“As we approach 2023, we are on solid ground, and I feel confident that the diversity of our practices and geography will help us to provide great value to our clients as the economy changes,” Dawson said.
Ballard Spahr: Peter Michaud
After leading the Philadelphia-founded Ballard Spahr for more than a decade, Mark Stewart will step down as chair on Dec. 31, 2023, making way for private equity and M&A partner Peter Michaud.
The Minneapolis-based Michaud joined Ballard Spahr in 2018 through its merger with Lindquist & Vennum. He became office managing partner of Ballard Spahr’s Minneapolis office following the merger and in 2019 became chair of the firm’s business and finance department.