Proskauer elects its youngest-ever chair as SJ Berwin talks continue

Proskauer Rose has elected a new global chairman as the New York firm continues to pursue a potential merger with SJ Berwin.

Joseph Leccese
Joseph Leccese

Forty-nine year-old Joseph Leccese will take over the role in January 2011, when he will become the youngest chair in the firm’s 135-year history. He replaces Allen Fagin, who has been in the role since 2005 and has served the maximum six-year term.

The news comes after SJ Berwin announced that managing partner Ralph Cohen will stand down later this year, 18 months ahead of schedule (10 August 2010). News of a potential tie-up between Proskauer and SJ Berwin was first revealed in May 2010, after the latter’s merger talks with Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe collapsed (6 May 2010).

Leccese is currently a corporate partner, co-head of the firm’s sports law group and a member of the firm’s executive committee. The firm said he will maintain his practice, working with clients including the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Citibank and Bank of America.

Leccese said: “Under Allen’s leadership, Proskauer has made significant strides building a global platform, expanding our presence in key markets, enhancing our capabilities in a number of practice areas and deftly navigating challenging economic times.”

Under Fagin’s reign the firm opened offices in Sao Paulo, Chicago, Hong Kong and  London, and increased its revenue by more than 60 per cent.

Fagin said: “Joe has provided exceptional leadership, demonstrated a deep sense of partnership and commitment to the future of this firm, and has been a driving force behind creating the premier sports law practice in the country. I look forward to his contributions as chairman and have no doubt that he’ll continue to build upon our success around the world.”