Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has elected New York-based partner Kim Koopersmith as chairwoman of the firm.

Koopersmith, now the U.S. managing partner, will replace R. Bruce McLean effective on April 1, 2013. She is also a member of the firm’s litigation practice. Her current roles include financial oversight, client service, recruitment and professional development.

McLean, who has served in the chairman role for 20 years, will stay on with the firm as senior executive partner.

Koopersmith, who practices from offices in Washington and New York, will be the first woman to serve as chair in the firm’s history.

In an interview Koopersmith complimented the work of her predecessor in building up the firm to what it is today and would continue the opportunistic growth that has defined the firm.

“I think Bruce has done an incredible job from taking the firm from a regional law firm to a strong, global firm,” Koopersmith said. “I expect very much to build on the success that Bruce has built. There is a great sense of stability and continuity. I think the firm is in a good position and I think this process has been accomplished with a strong feeling of support as we move forward.”