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Orrick Plucks Valley Partner to Lead ItRecruiters say the choice of Menlo Park corporate partner Mitchell Zuklie underscores the Valley's growing prominence in global marketplace.
2012-10-30 06:11:54 PM
SAN FRANCISCO With its choice of Mitchell Zuklie as its new chairman, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe could be the first global firm to install a Silicon Valley-based partner at its helm.
Tuesday's announcement capped off an 18-month search for a replacement for longtime chairman Ralph Baxter, who transformed Orrick from a 250-lawyer regional firm to a 1,100-lawyer global operation in his more than 22 years as chairman.
Zuklie was selected for the leadership he showed as head of Orrick's corporate business unit, Baxter said in an interview.
"He is a role model for all of our lawyers about how to blend genuine business expertise and legal expertise in order to serve clients in the best way possible," Baxter said. "He has contributed enormously since the first day he arrived."
Zuklie is regarded as a top Silicon Valley corporate lawyer, according to recruiters.
In an interview, Zuklie said his experiences in Silicon Valley will inform his leadership as chairman. "I have been heavily influenced by technology and, more generally, by the spirit of Silicon Valley," he said. "But at the end of the day, everything comes down to our first priority, which is to provide world class legal services that are differentiated."
Several legal recruiters said Wednesday they believed this is the first time a global firm has chosen a Silicon Valley partner to lead it. And they said the choice attests to Silicon Valley's growing prominence in the world business and legal markets.
"It's a big statement about how important the Valley and the technology sector are," said Natasha Innocenti, head of Major, Lindsey & Africa's partner practice in Silicon Valley. "They didn't select him because he's in Silicon Valley he's obviously a great leader and someone who engenders a lot of trust. But it says a lot about how far Silicon Valley has come."
Zuklie, who lives in Portola Valley, will continue to be based in Menlo Park, an Orrick spokeswoman said. Zuklie said that, like Baxter, he expects to travel frequently between San Francisco, New York and the firm's domestic and global offices.
Zuklie said he will continue to maintain a practice while chairman, unlike his predecessor. In January, the firm debuted an organizational structure that consists of five business units, shelving a system in which all practice groups were divided between the umbrellas of litigation and transactions.
"The idea of being organized in business units does enable there to be more diffuse leadership across the whole firm," Zuklie said. "The way that we will go forward is to include many people in leadership and to be quite collaborative and inclusive."
Zuklie will take over for Baxter at the end of 2013. Over the next 14 months, he will become progressively more involved in the management of the firm, Baxter said. Zuklie declined to articulate his vision for Orrick just yet, noting that he plans to consult with partners before formulating his goals for the firm. But the core direction of the firm will not change, he said.
"I don't think that I could replicate Ralph if I wanted to," he said. "But we share an unequivocal belief that each generation of lawyers has to lead with the view of leaving the firm stronger for the next generation."
Baxter, for his part, is still mulling his next move.
"What I will do is yet to be determined, and I will work on that with progressively more focus," he said. "The one decision I know I will not make is to retire."