It’s what every good CEO is supposed to do. And what many a law firm leader doesn’t.
Yesterday (24 April), one of the world’s longest-serving law firm leaders (Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Jack Nusbaum), finally named his successor.
Or, to be more accurate, successors.
At some not-yet-exactly specified point in the future, but most probably by the end of next year, Willkie’s leader since 1987 will step down and corporate partners Tom Cerabino and Steve Gartner will take over the running of the firm.
Until then, Nusbaum, Cerabino and Gartner will work together in the newly-minted ‘office of the chairman’.
The purpose of the new management structure, which was announced at a meeting of Willkie’s executive committee yesterday morning, was to confirm who the firm’s next leaders would be and allow them to assume responsibilities over time.
For Willkie, the appointment of a brace of chairmen is a return to business as usual. The firm has a history of co-chairman, with Nusbaum the only sole chairman in some 40 years.
But more importantly, it is a much-needed dose of succession planning. As one New York recruiter quipped, “It was time to let the kids run the show”.
Well, relatively speaking, Cerabino and Gartner may be ‘kids’ compared with the semi-legendary Nusbaum. But they’re kids who’ve both been at Willkie for 20 years and have been in line to take over for some time. Yesterday’s announcement confirms it.
With a year or more to get to grips with their new roles, they’ll both be well-schooled in the dark arts of law firm management when the time comes.
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