Biglaw, Litigators, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues

Musical Chairs: O’Melveny & Myers Announces Its Next Leader

Congratulations to Bradley Butwin, firm-wide chair of litigation at O’Melveny & Myers. The firm just announced that Butwin, a 51-year-old, New York-based partner, will take over from A.B. Culvahouse Jr. as chairman of the firm. The timing of the handover remains to be determined.

We previously covered the leadership transition process at OMM. At the time, word on the street was that five candidates were vying for Culvahouse’s position as chair.

In the end, it came down to three partners. Let’s learn about the contenders, and see what else is going on at O’Melveny….

Here’s a report from Am Law Daily:

The decision to elevate Butwin to O’Melveny’s top leadership post comes a bit more than two weeks after the firm confirmed that its policy committee had narrowed to three the field of candidates from which it would choose its new chair. In addition to Butwin, the others under consideration were Washington, D.C.-based partner Thomas McCoy and Los Angeles-based partner M. Randall Oppenheimer. Like Butwin, McCoy and Oppenheimer are litigators.

The OMM chair selection process, by the way, sounds fun. It makes me think of picking a new pope:

Under the firm’s rules, the policy committee not only selected the three candidates for the position, but also chose which of the candidates—Butwin, as it turned out—would be put to the partnership for a “ratification” vote. In an interview earlier this month, O’Melveny partner Walter Dellinger told The Am Law Daily, “Ratification will be a straightforward matter because there is widespread satisfaction with the three [possibilities].”

Indeed. And when the white smoke emerged from O’Melveny’s offices, Brad Butwin was wearing a really cool tiara.

When is Bradley Butwin actually taking over from A.B. Culvahouse? That’s not yet clear, according to Am Law:

The ratification vote confirming Butwin as chair-elect was completed on Wednesday. A decision as to when Butwin will take over from Culvahouse, who has about a year left on his current four-year term, has not yet been made. “We don’t have any magic dates,” Butwin says. “I will work closely with A.B. in order to gain exposure to all aspects of our firm’s business and once that process gets underway we will know better.”

As we previously mentioned, Culvahouse’s term as chair officially ends in February 2013, but some expect an earlier passing of the torch. Other leadership positions at O’Melveny have recently changed over, so it might make sense to get Butwin on board sooner rather than later as well, so he can get used to working with his new lieutenants.

By the way, note that many of the recent, high-profile departures from OMM involved partners and practice group leaders on the transactional side. Based on this fact and the selection of Butwin as chair (from a group of three litigator finalists), it would seem that the litigation side is fully in control at O’Melveny.

(But Butwin emphasized that OMM remains committed to its corporate side, telling Am Law that he “will be working with the transactional practices across the firm to continue to add depth and scope.”)

Interestingly enough, Butwin joined O’Melveny via OMM’s absorption of O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell, the well-regarded transactional boutique with a strong private equity practice. The merits of that merger have been questioned, and many former O’Sullivan partners have let O’Melveny in the past year. But OMM isn’t trying to exorcise the ghost of O’Sullivan from O’Melveny, as reflected by Bradley Butwin’s selection for the top job.

Good luck to Brad Butwin as he prepares to take the leadership mantle at O’Melveny & Myers.

O’Melveny names new chairman-elect [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
O’Melveny Litigation Chief to Become Firm’s Next Chairman [ABA Journal]
O’Melveny Taps Litigation Head Butwin as New Chair [Am Law Daily]

Earlier: What’s Going On At O’Melveny & Myers?
Good News at O’Melveny & Myers
O’Melveny Prepared For A Leadership Fight?


O’MELVENY & MYERS — PRESS RELEASE

BRADLEY J. BUTWIN NAMED CHAIR-ELECT OF O’MELVENY & MYERS

LOS ANGELES, CA – July 27, 2011 – O’Melveny & Myers LLP has announced that it has named Bradley J. Butwin as Chair-Elect. Butwin, 51, has chaired O’Melveny’s award-winning Litigation Department for the past two-and-a-half years. As the next Chair of O’Melveny, he will draw on his wealth of experience and strategic insights to chart a course for O’Melveny’s future success that capitalizes on the Firm’s core strengths. Butwin’s practice encompasses a broad spectrum of complex commercial matters, including securities litigation, and his clients include some of the world’s top financial institutions. Widely considered a leading securities litigator, Butwin is highly regarded for his ability to deftly manage the most complex matters.

“We implemented a Chair selection process that drew from best practices in leadership succession and we benefited greatly from this inclusive and objective approach. Our process created a great deal of unity throughout the Firm and helped lead us to an excellent outcome. I look forward to working closely with Brad in order to ensure a smooth transition,” said Chair Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr. “In addition, we had the privilege of working with two other great leaders, Tom McCoy and Randy Oppenheimer, throughout this process and we are fortunate to have the benefit of their deep commitment to the Firm and our future.”

“I am very excited and optimistic about our future at O’Melveny. We are on track for an excellent year, and we have one of the country’s top-tier litigation departments, one of the strongest Asia practices of any US-based firm, and excellent transactions capabilities in every region where we practice,” said Chair-Elect Butwin. “Among my greatest priorities will be to work closely with our transactions partners across the Firm to continue and accelerate the good work they have done so far to add depth and scope to our transactions practices. I’ve learned much throughout this process from my partners Tom McCoy and Randy Oppenheimer, who have demonstrated great friendship and leadership, and I plan to turn to them and many other partners for their guidance and creativity going forward. Our Firm is full of extremely talented lawyers and professionals who enable us to succeed on behalf of our clients time and time again, and I look forward to working with them to write the next chapter in our Firm’s wonderful history.”

“Our succession planning process was strategic, uplifting, and unifying, and Brad has my warmest congratulations and support. We demonstrated why our resolute commitment to values and unsurpassed professional excellence in everything we do differentiates us in the eyes of our clients,” said McCoy.

“Brad’s energy, vision, and experience make him a terrific choice for Chair. We’ve been close friends and working colleagues for years, and I’m excited about the prospect of supporting him for years to come in his newest role as we continue to find the best ways to deliver top notch legal services to our clients worldwide,” said Oppenheimer.

About O’Melveny & Myers LLP

With approximately 850 lawyers in 14 offices worldwide, O’Melveny & Myers LLP helps industry leaders across a broad array of sectors manage the complex challenges of succeeding in the global economy. We are a values-driven law firm, guided by the principles of excellence, leadership, and citizenship. Our commitment to these values is reflected in our dedication to improving access to justice through pro bono work and championing initiatives that increase the diversity of the legal profession. For more information please visit www.omm.com.

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