(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
McDermott Will & Emery is poised to bring back Robert Cordy, who spent the past 15 years as an associate justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, as a litigation partner in Boston.
Cordy, 67, was appointed to the state’s top court by former Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci in 2001. He announced in February that he would retire. Cordy previously spent eight years at McDermott, where he once managed the firm’s Boston office.
“My reason for selecting McDermott was not only my comfort level with many of the partners there, but also their international platform has a lot of importance to me,” Cordy said in an interview Friday.
While serving on Massachusetts’ highest court, Cordy worked with lawyers and judges in countries like Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan on issues related to the rule of law. For those projects, Cordy shared his knowledge of the U.S. judicial system with legal organizations working to reform their countries’ practices.
“Turkey is a very delicate issue,” Cordy said. “What’s going on there is probably one of the largest catastrophes of my lifetime.”
After a failed coup attempt in July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suspended more than 2,700 members of the judiciary, according to news reports, as well as thousands of police officers, teachers and university deans, and shut down more than 100 media outlets.
“An independent judiciary and a free press are totally interdependent—what kills one will likely kill the other,” Cordy said of his time abroad. “The other thing I’ve learned is how fragile this all is.”
At McDermott, Cordy hopes to continue working on cross-border matters. In September, he will return to troubled Ukraine were the bar association in the country’s capital of Kiev is sponsoring a legal and judicial reform program. He will start work at McDermott in the first week of October.
Cordy, pictured right, said he is proud of the work he’s done for Massachusetts’ high court in strengthening the “appreciation of the separation of powers concept.”
That issue was addressed in his 2003 dissent in a case that made same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts. Cordy wrote that the issue should be decided by the legislature, not the court.
“I don’t think any of us thought the policy was anything but positive, but who should decide?” Cordy said.
Cordy returns to McDermott as the Am Law 100 firm’s leadership undergoes a transition. In June, The Am Law Daily reported that its two co-chairs, partners Jeffrey Stone and Peter Sacripanti, would be stepping down on Jan. 1, 2017.
Though McDermott has seen some partner departures in recent months, revenue per lawyer rose 1.1 percent in 2015, to $910,000, while profits per equity partner increased 3.3 percent, to $1.58 million. Overall gross revenue at the 981-lawyer firm declined 0.9 percent last year, to $891.5 million.
“I don’t think the next generation of management will be anything other than wonderful,” said Cordy, who is friendly with both Stone and Sacripanti. Cordy noted that he will not take on any more leadership roles at McDermott.
“As much as I love institution building, re-engagement in the practice of law through the firm is what I am excited about,” he said.
Before joining McDermott in 1993, Cordy served as chief legal counsel to Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo lawyer now running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket.
Citing his judicial position, Cordy declined to discuss his political proclivities in the upcoming election. Before working for Weld, Cordy worked as a white-collar criminal defense and civil litigation lawyer at the Boston-based Burns & Levinson.