DLA Piper Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Frank Ryan, an intellectual property expert who’s litigated cases in the diverse areas of media, sports and medical devices, will be DLA Piper’s next U.S. chairman.

The firm’s partnership voted to elect Ryan to the role on Wednesday, culminating a process that began in February. He will take over from current Americas co-chairmen Jay Rains and Roger Meltzer at the start of 2021.

“My goal is to continue us on the path we’re on,” Ryan said. “There’s been tremendously effective management on the financial side of the business, and I want to make us even more market-facing where I can and continue to fight the tough fight for talent in the marketplace.”

Frank Ryan Frank Ryan, with DLA Piper.

Ryan, who highlighted his work in the global sports realm on matters such as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and on behalf of clients such as ESPN and Nike, said he intends to continue to practice while in his leadership role.

“We have the infrastructure to service the relationships,” he said. “I think we’ll be in a really good position.”

Ryan is currently the global and U.S. co-chairman of the firm’s intellectual property and technology practice and the deputy chairman of the media, sport and entertainment sector. He is also a member of the firm’s U.S. Executive Committee and Global Board. He joined the firm in 2010 and is based in New York.

While Meltzer and Rains collectively oversee all of the Americas in their current role, Ryan’s election to chairman solely encompasses the firm’s U.S. operations. Initially, Meltzer will retain management of the firm’s affairs in Canada and Latin America, with an eye to eventually transfer responsibilities to Ryan.

Meltzer and Rains will also continue to serve as the firm’s global co-chairmen and global co-CEO, respectively, through the end of 2022.

According to Rains, the selection process commenced in February, when the firm’s executive committee convened a nominating committee with five voting members. Sen. George Mitchell, chairman emeritus of the firm, served as the nonvoting chairman. The committee interviewed roughly 200 partners before making a unanimous recommendation to the firm’s policy committee to select Ryan. The policy committee then made the recommendation to the partnership on Monday evening.

“It is our practice to do this in a very deliberate way,” Rains said, adding that 18 months of lead time allows Ryan to work closely with him, Meltzer and the remainder of the firm’s partners and to assemble a capable leadership team to support him.

The firm has grown revenue for two straight years, hitting $2.84 billion in 2018. In a conversation earlier this year, Rains attributed the robust performance both to an improving global legal market and to the firm’s recent investments in building a worldwide presence.

Outside of the Western Hemisphere, the firm reappointed Simon Levine as international managing partner in October 2018 and named Andrew Darwin international senior partner in February 2018. Darwin is global co-chairman while Levine is global co-CEO.

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Distinguished Leader: Roger Meltzer