Philadelphia-based Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller will undergo the first major leadership change in its 19-year history on January 1 of next year, when Chairman William T. Hangley steps down and hands over the reins to new Chairman Mark A. Aronchick and Vice Chairman Ronald P. Schiller.

The firm said the move marks the first step toward eventually transitioning key leadership responsibilities from the firm’s founders and senior shareholders to a younger generation of lawyers.

Hangley, who Aronchick described as “forever young” and “as busy as he’s ever been,” plans to remain on the firm’s board of directors and to maintain his full-time practice, which focuses on bet-the-company litigation.

“Letting go of the reins of leadership is a little bit scary, particularly in these challenging times for law firms, but Mark Aronchick has been great in everything he has tried,” Hangley said in a press release.

Meanwhile, David B. Pudlin, the firm’s president and chief executive officer since its founding, will remain in that capacity.

Pudlin’s duties will largely continue to involve running the day-to-day business operations of the firm, while Aronchick and Schiller will collaborate on a more macro view of the firm’s direction.

Aronchick said the timing was right for the leadership change, noting that the founding shareholders — Hangley, Aronchick, Pudlin and litigation department head Daniel Segal — feel they’ve accomplished all of the major goals they set out for the firm at its inception.

One of the goals, of course, was financial success, Aronchick said.

When the founding shareholders left now-defunct Philadelphia firm Hangley Connolly Epstein Chicco Foxman & Ewing in 1994 to form Hangley Aronchick, Pudlin said, they all took a huge risk and incurred significant upfront debt to get the firm running before revenues started to come in.

But nearly two decades later, Aronchick said, the firm is consistently enjoying “year after year of record economic growth.”

With 47 lawyers across four offices, Hangley Aronchick is the 52nd largest firm in Pennsylvania, according to the most recent edition of The Legal‘sannual magazine PaLaw.

According to figures provided by Pudlin, Hangley Aronchick’s gross revenue rose by 14.7 percent from 2010 to 2011, 7.2 percent from 2011 to 2012 and is currently on track to grow by 37.7 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Aronchick said that revenue growth is a product of the firm’s dedication to another one of its original goals: developing a balance of homegrown and lateral talent.

Shareholders John S. Summers, John J. Kenney and David M. Scolnic, each of whom either began his career at Hangley Aronchick or joined the firm as a young lawyer, are all examples of the former, Aronchick said.

Schiller, meanwhile, exemplifies one of the firm’s most successful lateral hires, according to Aronchick.

Schiller joined the firm in 2009 along with five other attorneys from the Philadelphia office of DLA Piper, where he led the litigation practice.

By 2011, the firm had added Schiller to its nameplate.

Aronchick said he hopes to maintain the level of quality of homegrown and lateral talent Hangley has helped usher in as chairman.

Part of what’s made the firm successful is its diverse practice base, which Aronchick said has been built through a focus on the quality of the attorneys it hires rather than the type of practice they bring with them.

“We are wide open,” Aronchick said. “To us, it so much matters who is calling us, rather than what they do.”

Aronchick said he will look to continue to build up existing practice areas like antitrust litigation, environmental and real estate law, while remaining receptive to expanding into other areas.

According to Aronchick, the firm’s family law practice is another one he expects to see grow and evolve, as emerging issues like gay marriage create a new legal landscape.
In July, Hangley Aronchick, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, became the first to file a case challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage on behalf of 11 same-sex couples and a widow.

Schiller, who focuses his own practice on commercial litigation with a focus on representing insurers and reinsurers, financial institutions and technology companies, said the firm will also look to continue building its litigation practice, which he said involves “broad cross-sections of high-stakes litigation.”

Overall, Aronchick said, the firm is not looking to tinker too much with what it considers to be a winning formula that combines a focus on professional excellence with a collegial culture. Still, he added, there’s always room for growth.

“We’re constantly updating, revising and improving,” Aronchick said.

Pudlin, Aronchick and Segal all said the firm has always and will always be a democracy, where lawyers at every level have a say in the firm’s direction and lateral hires are encouraged to pitch ideas that were successful at their previous firms.

In other words, Segal said, it will be more of the same following the leadership change, where “‘the same’ is being receptive to innovation.”

Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.