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January 25, 2012 9:13 AM

Goodwin Procter Names New York's Robert Insolia Managing Partner

Posted by Scott Graham

After tripling the size of the firm over the last decade and a half, Goodwin Procter has decided to double its leadership team.

New York real estate capital markets partner Robert Insolia will become only the fifth managing partner in the Boston-based firm's 100-year history as of February 1, and the first from outside Goodwin's hometown.

Regina Pisa, who has presided over the firm's massive expansion during her 14-year tenure as chair and managing partner, will relinquish day-to-day operations but retain her strategic role as firm chair.

"It's a recognition that the job has become too big for one person," Insolia said Tuesday. "It's time to share the burden a little."

Insolia, 54, joined Goodwin from O'Melveny & Myers in 1997 to launch Goodwin's New York office, which he ran until returning to full-time practice in 2004. Today, the office accounts for about 160 of the firm's 850 lawyers. Insolia currently serves as cochair of the firm's real estate fund formation practice, and previously chaired Goodwin Procter's business department and has served on the executive committee. In his new job as managing partner, Insolia will continue to practice, but will give up the cochair title.

Pisa, 56, has led Goodwin Procter since 1998, when she became the first woman to serve as chair and managing partner of an Am Law 100 firm. At the time she ascended to the dual leadership posts, Goodwin Procter was a regionally focused shop with about 350 attorneys and gross annual revenues of roughly $170 million (subscription required). Today, the firm's attorney head count numbers 850 with firm revenues approaching $700 million and profits per equity partner of about $1.5 million, according to the most recent Am Law 100 data. 

Under Pisa's watch the firm has expanded into California, where it has 130 lawyers across four offices today, as well as Hong Kong and London. Pisa also oversaw the acquisition of 85 lawyers from the dissolving Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault firm in 2004 and a merger with Washington, D.C.'s 70-lawyer Shea & Gardner that same year.

Serving as chairman and managing partner "may have made sense at a time when the firm was smaller," Pisa said Tuesday. Today "we need two effective leaders at the helm."

As with many firms, Goodwin's growth has cooled over the last few years. After bringing in some high-profile Silicon Valley laterals 2007, the firm made no further hires there for a couple of years, and it consolidated its Los Angeles and Century City offices a couple years back. Head count dipped in 2010, but the firm has said that was due mostly to first-year associate deferrals and that growth is back on track.

"Our objective is to have the right people in the right markets," Insolia said. "It's not to grow for growth's sake."

Goodwin considers its technology and life sciences practices a strength and sees opportunity for further growth in those areas in California, for example. It also would like to build out its capital markets and private equity practices in London--particularly with new REIT rules being adopted there--and add financial services talent in a number of markets, according to Pisa and Insolia.

Pisa emphasized that she is not dialing back her leadership responsibilities. Under the new structure, she plans to focus on overall firm strategy, growth efforts, client relations, and external communications. Insolia, meanwhile, will oversee day-to-day operations and manage the performance of practice areas and attorneys.

Managing attorney performance can be a challenge, Insolia acknowledged. But, he added, "We're fortunate to have a very like-minded group of partners. We feel we have the same values and objectives, and I'm excited about this new role and working with all our partners in all practice areas."

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