Hy Pomerance. (Courtesy photo)

As more law firms look to revamp and professionalize their recruiting, retention and diversity efforts, another firm is expanding its executive ranks with a new position focused on talent.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton announced on Thursday that it has hired human resources executive Hy Pomerance as its first-ever chief talent officer.

In his new role at Cleary, Pomerance will oversee global talent and human resources functions for the firm’s professional staff and attorneys, including diversity and inclusion efforts as well as recruiting and professional development.

Pomerance, who most recently was chief human resources officer for North America and emerging markets at global insurer QBE Holdings in London, officially joined the firm at the end of August in New York.

“The challenges here are really exciting to me, and they require a lot of strategic thinking,” said Pomerance, who has spent nearly two decades working in executive HR roles with Fortune 500 companies. “There’s some disruption in the industry that Cleary is beginning to respond to, and that’s very important and that drives change.”

Before joining QBE in 2013, Pomerance spent five years at New York Life Insurance Co. as chief talent officer and then chief human resources officer. He also spent half a decade at UBS Investment Bank as managing director and global head of talent management.

That experience outside the legal industry gives him a useful perspective, he said.

“The legal profession is a business that’s clearly modernizing itself, and I think there are lots of opportunities to learn from the more traditional corporations and other professional services firms,” Pomerance said.

At Cleary, Pomerance said he hopes to help the 72-year-old law firm adopt consistent approaches across its global offices, and help it “future proof itself” by getting out in front of changes in the industry, including shifting expectations about diversity and inclusion.

“I think a lot of what has to happen today in the talent management world requires new thinking and some open-mindedness and a hunger to be the best at something,” Pomerance said. “I think there’s a penchant here for achieving high standards.”

Pomerance’s addition marks the latest in a series of newly created positions to tackle pressing talent management issues at big law firms.

Last month, Shearman & Sterling named Sandra Bang as its first-ever chief diversity and talent strategy officer, as well as the formation of a diversity and inclusion task force led by its recently appointed senior partner David Beveridge.

National labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips named Southern California-based partner Regina Petty as its first chief diversity office earlier this summer. Locke Lord named its first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, Paulette Brown, the first woman of color to serve as ABA president, soon after.


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