Five months after merging his firm into Pepper Hamilton, former FBI director and judge Louis J. Freeh has been named as the firm’s next chairman.

Freeh will be taking over for Nina M. Gussack, who served as chairwoman of Pepper Hamilton’s executive committee for the past six years.

Gussack will continue her full-time practice and role as head of the firm’s health effects litigation practice. The transition is set to take place later this month.

Freeh’s ascension to head of the firm is the latest in a line of leadership changes that Pepper Hamilton has said have been instituted in an effort to put the firm’s management more in line with how its corporate clients operate.

About a year ago, Pepper Hamilton hired nonlawyer C. Scott Green to serve in the firm’s newly created role of chief executive officer. That position reports to the chairman of the executive committee, who will soon be Freeh.

The role of executive partner, previously held for a decade by Robert Heideck, was molded into a managing partner role and turned over to labor and employment partner Thomas J. Cole Jr. last month.

 

Along with Freeh’s new role, Pepper Hamilton’s executive committee has now elected two vice chairs of the firm.

Julia D. Corelli, a corporate and securities lawyer and co-chairwoman of the firm’s commercial department, will serve as vice chairwoman along with Thomas M. Gallagher, chairman of the firm’s white-collar litigation and investigations practice group. The firm did not have vice chairs of the executive committee in 2012. In 2011, Cole served as the sole vice chairman. Prior to that, George Lehner served in the position.

 

Gussack reiterated in a statement that the latest changes are part of Pepper Hamilton’s commitment to “professional management.”

“We recruited Scott Green to serve in the new role of chief executive officer,” Gussack said in the statement. “We redefined the role of managing partner and elected Tom Cole, a highly respected Pepper partner, to that position. And, we recruited Louis Freeh and his colleagues. All the pieces are in place for accelerated growth and performance, and I am very pleased,” said Gussack.

On September 1, 2012, Freeh merged his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, into Pepper Hamilton. Freeh’s consulting group, Freeh Group International Solutions, also merged into Pepper Hamilton. The two law firms got to know one another through their joint work conducting an internal investigation on Penn State’s behalf into the university’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.

Gussack was the only woman currently leading an Am Law 100 or 200 firm in Pennsylvania and was one of just 13 women mentioned as firm leaders among the 93 Am Law firms that participated in a recent survey by Legal affiliate The American Lawyer on women in large-firm leadership positions.

- Read more about this in Wednesday’s Legal.