This Big Philadelphia Law Firm Chose an Out-of-City Leader for the First Time

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In a move that underscored its growing national focus, Ballard Spahr LLP on Wednesday announced a succession plan that will place the company’s leadership outside of Philadelphia for the first time.

Firm chairman Mark Stewart, 66, will step down on Dec. 31, 2023. And Peter Michaud, 53, a Minneapolis-based firm partner and chairman of its business and transactions department, was elected to fill the role. . Stewart will return to his day-to-day practice as a partner in the firm.

Michaud, who will split his time between Minneapolis and Philadelphia, isn’t just the first executive in the company’s 137-year history to come from outside the region. He is also the first Ballard executive to identify as an openly gay man.

“When I started practicing, openly gay lawyers were rare,” Michaud said by email. “It would mean a lot to me if, at the end of my career, that was not the case and Ballard had played a small role in contributing to various lawyers, including LGBTQ+ people, knowing that they are welcome.”

Ballard ranks 93rd among the nation’s 100 largest law firms by revenue.

Stewart, who has led the company since 2011, called Michaud an “extraordinary talent, a friend and someone who has played a key role in leading the company over the past few years,” according to a statement from the company.

Stewart’s resignation is in line with a Ballard Spahr policy that partners 65 or older cannot run for president, he told the Legal Intelligencer.

Michaud and Stewart will work closely together during an 18-month transition period.

Michaud noted that “last year the company achieved its best financial performance ever” despite the pandemic.

“[Stewart] guided Ballard through an economic downturn to historic headcount and revenue growth,” Michaud said, referring to the firm’s expansion to 15 offices across the country and 643 practicing attorneys. “He helped us weather a global pandemic with strength, humanity and unwavering attention to the needs of our clients, attorneys and employees.”

Ballard Spahr is often considered one of the strongest law firms in Philadelphia, where it has its largest office with 222 attorneys. The Washington DC office ranks second with 81 attorneys.

Over the past decade, Ballard has merged with several firms across the country, expanding its footprint and practice areas to include intellectual property, First Amendment rights, and mergers and acquisitions attorneys, among other areas.

In 2018, it merged with Lindquist & Vennum, which gave the company an expanded presence in Denver, as well as new locations in Sioux Falls, SD, and Minneapolis, where Michaud had worked since 1996.

Michaud, who has a home in Minnesota and an apartment in Philadelphia, said traveling among Ballard’s 15 offices will keep him busy. “I foresee a lot of frequent flyer miles in my future,” he said.

At the time of the Lindquist merger, Stewart told The Inquirer, “It’s not that we thought our size was a barrier, or that clients didn’t think we were impressive enough with just 550 lawyers. [before the two mergers]. This was a strategic move to deepen our business practices and expand into an area of ​​the country where we did not have a presence. Everything seemed fine to us. I don’t see numbers as the goal. I see that the strength of the practice is the goal.

Michaud echoed Stewart’s sentiment, saying, “There’s no magic number for offices or lawyers.” But he suspects one area where the company will continue to grow is environment, social and governance. [ESG] work.

“Clients look to us to develop and maintain their ESG strategies, and this area aligns with our proven expertise in litigation, environmental law, public finance, securities and corporate governance. “, said Michaud.

In Philadelphia, Ballard represents local notables, including the Phillies, DuPont and Comcast. Marcel S. Pratt, a former top lawyer in town, is managing partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office.

And Ballard’s attorney, Henry Hockeimer Jr., is representing John Dougherty, the former business manager for IBEW Local 98 who was convicted in November of federal bribery charges. He awaits sentencing on these charges.

Ahead of Dougherty’s second trial, which is due to begin next week, motions filed by prosecutors have revealed an informant in the former union leader’s inner circle. Hockeimer argues that his client’s first trial may have been tainted if the informant’s tapes included conversations about trial preparations.

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