By Casey Sullivan
Oct 15 (Reuters) - The Washington law firm Akin Gump Strauss
Hauer & Feld announced on Monday that chairman Bruce McLean
would be stepping down from his post in March 2013 and it had
elected New York litigator Kim Koopersmith to succeed him.
Koopersmith, 53, has served as U.S. managing partner at Akin
Gump since 2008 and will be the firm's first woman chairperson.
McLean will remain at the firm as senior executive partner after
his term as chairman expires on March 31.
On a recent three-month tour of the firm's 17 offices,
Koopersmith sought to win partnership support by promising to
promote more international and domestic growth.
In his 20 years at the helm of the firm, McLean, 65,
expanded what was a 300-lawyer regional Texas law firm with two
offices outside the state in the 1990s into an international
operation with 850-plus lawyers. The firm now has 17 offices
specializing in energy, corporate, legislative and regulatory
practices, among others. Akin last week also hired a
seven-partner group of corporate and litigation partners from
the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone.
Under McLean's watch, Washington became an increasingly
important focus for the firm. Asked about any sensitivities in
addressing geographic power issues, Koopersmith said, "I will
spend time in all of the offices so that people continue to make
sure that I understand what needs to be accomplished."
The election of Koopersmith concludes a five-months-long
selection process. Another candidate considered for the position
had been Kenneth Menges, partner-in-charge of the firm's Dallas
office, according to the Texas Lawyer.
In a statement, Menges said he was supportive of
In addition to naming Koopersmith chairwoman, the firm is
considering one other significant management change, said
McLean. It is evaluating the size of the firm's management
committee, currently numbering about 20, and may decide to
downsize the group.
"A smaller committee would have the potential to immerse
themselves in the issues with greater intensity as opposed to
20-plus practicing lawyers," said Koopersmith, who added the
committee would get to meet more often.
Akin Gump grossed $770 million in 2011, ranking 32 in the
U.S. law firms listed in The American Lawyer. The firm's profits
per partner at that time were pegged at $1.6 million.
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