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November 30, 2010 5:11 PM

Facing Challenges, Ruden McClosky Names New Managing Partner

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 12/2/10, 5:40 p.m. The Daily Business Review reports that Ruden McClosky has let go of 16 support staffers as part of the firm's ongoing cost-cutting measures.

Hit hard by the real estate crash and economic recession, Florida firm Ruden McClosky has shaken up its management and will hand the reigns over to a new managing partner on January 1, 2011.

The Daily Business Review, a sibling publication, reports that current Ruden McClosky president and CEO Carl Schuster, an estate-planning partner in Fort Lauderdale, will share power next year with his second-in-command, Michael Krul, who has chaired the firm's corporate and finance practice for more than 20 years.

Krul, 62, will serve as comanaging partner in 2011 with Schuster, 73, before Schuster steps down permanently and returns to his trusts and estate practice in 2012. Krul told the DBR that the move was unanimously approved by the full partnership, which has shrunk in size in recent months as Ruden McClosky seeks to cut costs to stay financially viable.

The Fort Lauderdale-based firm maintains offices in Boca Raton, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Port St. Lucie, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. But Ruden McClosky, which once had nearly 200 lawyers, has been reduced to an 85-lawyer outfit after losing more than 50 partners and offices in Sarasota and St. Petersburg to competitors. (Click here, here, here, and here for previous posts by The Am Law Daily on the wave of defections that have plagued Ruden McClosky in recent months.)

Disgruntled attorneys at the firm have lobbed insults at Ruden McClosky's management, which has continually insisted all will be fine and that the firm will weather the storm buffeting its bottom line. Ruden McClosky has implemented layoffs and instituted an 18 percent across-the-board pay cut to stay afloat, according to the DBR, which also notes that some partners left the firm at the end of 2009 when they were asked to sign personal guarantees to secure the firm's line of credit.

In order to turn itself around, the DBR reports Ruden McClosky reduced the size of its management committee from nine partners to five in order to free up four partners for more billable time. Krul told the DBR that a new management committee will be chosen in another partner election in December. The firm is even looking to start hiring again, looking for three senior associates to add to its depleted attorney roster.

"We're stronger and leaner heading into 2011," Krul said. "We will make budget. We're doing fine; we're poised to grow."

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