Joseph Ryan (left) and William Baldiga of Brown Rudnick (Courtesy photos)

Brown Rudnick will have a new leader starting next month.

The Boston-based Am Law 200 firm announced Thursday that William Baldiga, managing director of the firm’s litigation and restructuring department, will take up the post of chief executive officer when current CEO Joseph Ryan retires on March 15.

Ryan, who first joined the firm in 1978, has led Brown Rudnick since 2003, overseeing a period of significant growth that has included the opening of offices in Paris, Washington, D.C., and Orange County, California.

He also presided over the significant expansion of the firm’s London and New York offices, as well as the development of white-collar, IP litigation, life sciences, international arbitration and finance practices.

“I’m very proud of having been at the firm my entire career,” Ryan said.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of change, and I would say immodestly I think we’ve done a lot of exciting and very rewarding things—rewarding not only for us but for our clients. It’s been a great run, but it’s time to pass the baton, and I’m very happy that I’m able to pass it to Bill,” he said.

Partners voted to elect Baldiga to a three-year term as CEO in November.

“I started working at the firm 36 years ago, and Joe has been my mentor ever since, so I’ve seen what leadership means,” said Baldiga. “For me to have the partnership tell me that they have confidence in me to carry on in those shoes, that’s an incredible honor.”

Baldiga joined the firm as a summer associate in 1982, and over nearly four decades he has held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as head of its litigation and restructuring department, hiring committee, pro bono committee and diversity committee.

In addition to serving as CEO, Baldiga will continue his practice representing public and private companies and committees of creditors and shareholders in major restructuring cases. Most recently, he represented The Boston Herald in its Chapter 11 case.

“One thing that Joe and I would both say is all of our best opportunities are in front of us,” Baldiga said, noting that the firm will continue to invest in new and existing offices and practices. 

Brown Rudnick, which counted 212 lawyers and revenue of $192.2 million in 2017, has been creeping upward in the Am Law 200 rankings in recent years, holding steady at 148th largest U.S. firm by revenue since 2016.

“We’re really well placed in the market to continue to just be better every year than the year before,” Baldiga said. “We feel great about our competitive place in the market.”