Among the voids that Mary Jo White left at Debevoise & Plimpton when President Barack Obama named her to head the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year was a role as cochair of her former firm’s litigation department. On Monday, Debevoise filled that vacancy by naming litigator Mary Beth Hogan, a former member of the firm’s management committee, to lead the 230-lawyer department alongside John Kiernan.
In an interview, Kiernan—who has cochaired the practice since 2002, when he and White took over the department from now-retired John Hall–said members of the management committee and the litigation department’s 45 partners overwhelmingly supported elevating Hogan to the leadership post.
"First, there is no more highly respected or highly beloved partner in this firm than Mary Beth," Kiernan says. "Second, she is a person of extraordinary judgment and interpersonal skill. Third, she’s an extremely highly accomplished lawyer who has succeeded out in the marketplace."
Hogan, 49, specializes in white-collar, regulatory, and employment matters, as well as internal investigations and commercial litigation. Lately, she has taken on a number of cases for JPMorgan Chase, some involving the bank’s mortgage foreclosure practices and others related to the bank’s use of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. Other clients include UBS Financial Services, Owens Corning, The Carlyle Group, and Syracuse University.
Hogan says taking on the new role won’t hamper her practice. "I really love practicing law, working with clients," she says. "I plan to continue that work. We’ll see how it all fits in."
The New York–based Hogan joined Debevoise after graduating from Rutgers School of Law in 1990 and completing a yearlong clerkship. She made partner in 1999, becoming the first Debevoise litigator to do so while working what she described as a part-time schedule. (That schedule did, however, require her to work from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and put in extra time in the evenings, five days a week.)
Both inside and outside the firm, Hogan has been a strong advocate for the advancement of women, and all young lawyers, in the profession. She cofounded Debevoise’s women’s resource group and cochairs the firm’s talent development group. In recent years, Hogan says, the women’s group has focused on urging young lawyers to develop leadership skills, which she sees as the key to career advancement. Hogan says the work is paying off, citing the higher proportion of female lawyers in the under-40 partnership ranks at Debevoise than in the firmwide partnership.
Outside Debevoise, Hogan has been active in The Kate Stoneman Project, a networking group of women from 10 large New York–based firms, and as a board member of Catalyst, an organization that works to promote women in all types of business.
Hogan says she plans to stay involved with both groups: "I find that outside work actually informs my work here at the firm. I find it very valuable."
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