LeClairRyan announced Monday that Elizabeth Acee, head of the firm’s national litigation department, has been named president of the firm.
In the newly created role, New Haven, Connecticut-based Acee will share senior executive duties with LeClairRyan’s chief executive officer, C. Erik Gustafson, who has led the firm since 2016.
The changes come at a time of continuing lateral departures at LeClairRyan, and amid sustained revenue decreases at the firm in recent years. The firm’s gross revenue fell from $163 million in 2015 to $142 million in 2017, according to Am Law 200 figures, with declines continuing into 2018.
Last year the firm shrank by 42 partners, nearly 20 percent of its equity partnership, according to data compiled by ALM Intelligence. Since the beginning of the year, LeClairRyan has already lost 20 partners, including an 18-lawyer group in Boston, which included 13 partners, to Atlanta-based Freeman Mathis & Gary, and a four-attorney team, including two partners, from the firm’s Richmond, Virginia, office to Whiteford Taylor & Preston.
Neither Acee nor a firm representative was immediately available to address the leadership changes on Monday. In a statement, Gustafson said, “Lizz has been an essential partner and leader in helping address the changes being driven by shifts in the legal marketplace, particularly as we move toward a next-generation law firm model.”
“Our Board of Members shared in my enthusiasm in elevating her to the president role. This signals not only the firm’s commitment to that vision, but also confidence in her ability to lead us forward,” the statement continued.
The creation of the new role within the firm is related to LeClairRyan’s alliance with Overland Park, Kansas-based alternative legal services provider UnitedLex Corp.
In June, LeClairRyan partnered with UnitedLex to launch ULX Partners LLC, a platform that outsources nonlegal operations for law firms for a minority equity stake in the venture. Since then, more than 300 LeClairRyan employees joined the new venture.
In an interview with The American Lawyer following the departure of a five-lawyer group from the firm’s Rochester office to Pepper Hamilton, Acee said that LeClairRyan remained very committed to changing the firm’s business model.
“We think we’re building law firm 2.0 and we’ll be stronger,” Acee said, referring to the joint venture with UnitedLex.
Acee joined LeClairRyan in 2009 alongside a group of lawyers from now-defunct New Haven, Connecticut-based Tyler Cooper & Alcorn. In 2016, she became head of LeClairRyan’s litigation department.
Taking over from Acee in that role is Thomas Regan, who previously served as products liability and transportation practice team leader. Regan joined the firm in 2008 from Day Pitney.