Capitol rotunda, Washington. The Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

William Malley, who has led the Washington, D.C., office of Seattle-based Perkins Coie for close to eight years, will take over as firmwide managing partner for a four-year term beginning July 1, the firm announced Tuesday.

Malley succeeds John Devaney, another D.C.-based partner, who was elected to succeed Perkins Coie’s longtime managing partner Robert Giles five years ago.

William Malley Perkins Coie’s William Malley.

“I certainly recognize just how important this job is to the whole firm, and so I’m honored to take on this new role,” Malley said.

“I think we’re thriving now, and we’ve got some great opportunities for growth ahead of us, and so I’m really looking forward to diving in,” he added.

The selection process for Devaney’s successor began in earnest six months ago. The firm selected a 17-member task force that interviewed its partnership to select a leader, and, based on its recommendations, the executive committee appointed Malley to succeed Devaney, who will rejoin the firm’s litigation practice.

Malley, a partner in the firm’s environment, energy and resources practice, has presided over a period of major growth in the D.C. office, where the firm is recognized as a leader in political law, with a particular connection to the Democratic Party. Since 2010, the office has tripled in size and is now the firm’s second-largest location behind its Seattle base.

Devaney was involved in recruiting Malley to the firm in 2008 from Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.

“I recognized when I first met him that he’s a pretty extraordinary person with unique talents. He’s very well suited for the role of managing partner,” said Devaney, who is stepping aside as managing partner to spend more time with his family and practice.

“He’s talented, but humble, which fits our culture,” Devaney added of Malley. “He’s really ambitious for the firm and determined to continue our strong trajectory of strong client service, good strategic growth, continuing client relationships, increasing diversity and maintaining our culture.”

Since taking over in January 2015, Devaney has overseen year-over-year financial growth for the firm. In 2018, Perkins Coie saw its gross revenue jump by nearly 10 percent to $861.73 million while profits per equity partner grew by 9.7 percent to $1.29 million.

Devaney said that those results can be traced back to a focus throughout the firm on good client service and relationships—key goals of his tenure.

“I’ve been very focused in my role on spending as much time with the clients as possible and helping our lawyers and staff deepen our client relationships with a really strong emphasis on client service,” he said. “That’s been kind of my mantra.”

Another goal of his time as managing partner was to strengthen the firm’s practices and offices. Since 2015, Perkins Coie has added nearly 80 lateral partners and promoted close to 90 equity partners.

Diversity and inclusion also were key pillars during Devaney’s time as managing partner.

“When I started, none of our practice group chairs were women, now six of 11 are women,” he said, noting that women and minorities now make up 60% of the firm’s executive committee.  

“I’m proud of what the firm has accomplished over the last five years, and we still have much left to accomplish, and I think Bill’s well-suited to continue what we’ve done over the last five years,” he added.

Malley said one of his priorities will be to continue to preserve Perkins Coie’s collaborative culture.

“Our culture is really central to our identity as a firm, and, as I see it, it forms a powerful bond across all of our offices and practice groups,” Malley said. “That’s really critical, I think, for the role that I’m about to step into to help preserve and sustain that culture, [which is] really a culture of mutual respect.”