Akin Gump elects US managing partner as first female chair

Texas-headquartered Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has elected former US managing partner Kim Koopersmith as chair of the firm as incumbent Bruce McLean steps down.

Kim Koopersmith
Kim Koopersmith

Koopersmith, a New York-based litigator, began her career at Akin Gump 19 years ago and became US managing partner of the firm in 2008. When she steps into her new role in March 2013 she will become the first woman at Akin Gump to hold the position of chair and one of the few female lawyers to lead a firm in America.

She is understood to have worked closely with McLean for a number of years in her position as US managing partner. McLean has been chairman of the firm for 20 years and will remain with the firm as senior executive partner.

During his tenure as chair McLean helped the the firm expand from a regional firm with two offices outside Texas to a global firm with 17 offices worldwide. Earlier this year the firm opened its second base in Asia, launching in Hong Kong with newly recruited partners Gregory Puff and Andrew Abernethy, who joined from Shearman & Sterling and Norton Rose respectively (20 February 2012).

A source told The Lawyer that Koopersmith is not expected to change the basic strategy of the firm and that the appointment is a natural step from her position as US managing partner.

Koopersmith has been instrumental in the firm’s diversity efforts and has tried to make working practices more flexbile for parents, overseeing the creation of the Women’s Professional Development Initiative and the creation of the firm’s Reduced Workload Policy.

The firm posted a 4.5 per cent increase in gross revenue along with a 4.3 per cent rise in average profit per equity partner for the 2011 financial year, which saw the firm work on a handful of big-ticket deals including the $4.5bn sale of 6,000 Nortel Network Corp patents and patent applications and a $380m settlement between the Osage Tribe and the US Government.