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June 30, 2009 8:46 PM

Mayer Brown Names Partner-in-Charge of New York Office

Posted by Vivian Yee

It's been a year of colossal shifts at Mayer Brown. Two months after partners voted to create a new managing partner position and named a new chairman, the firm continues to roll out leadership changes. Today it named Richard Spehr the partner-in-charge of the New York office.

Spehr, the cohead of the New York litigation group, will lead an office of over 200 attorneys. He succeeds restructuring partner Brian Trust, who will continue to practice out of the New York office, in the position.

Spehr says one of his priorities will be to grow the New York office to keep up with Chicago, Hong Kong, and London, and continue to build the firm's litigation practice. Though Mayer Brown's profits fell by 11 percent last year, the Chicago-based firm scored some high-profile litigation victories, including a December products liability win for Medtronic, Inc.

"If there's a short-term emphasis, it will be continuing the growth in our white-collar practice," says Spehr. Former assistant U.S. attorneys Sean Patrick Casey and Lynn Neils joined the New York litigation group in February. 

The firm has had its share and more of turmoil in recent months. James Holzhauer, the firm's former Chicago-based chairman, stepped down in April and named Herbert "Bert" Krueger as his successor. And former London vice-chair Paul Maher announced his departure last month to launch Greenberg Traurig's new London office, after being snubbed for the new managing partner position, which went to Washington vice-chair Kenneth Geller. Maher's departure caps a two-year string of more than 100 partner defections. 

Spehr says Mayer Brown's new management could help streamline lateral hiring. Under the old protocol, potential laterals had to meet with many members of the policy and planning committee before joining the firm, a process which Spehr describes as a “slow, inefficient, and cumbersome." He hopes more effective decision-making should also cut down on defections.  

“I’m very optimistic about both the management restructuring, as well as the firm’s commitment to grow New York,” he says. Meanwhile, Mayer Brown’s management wheel keeps turning.

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