Ira Coleman.
Ira Coleman. (Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM)

Partner Ira Coleman has been elected the next chairman of McDermott Will & Emery, defeating bids by four other partners who had sought the post.

The 53-year-old Coleman runs the firm’s Miami office and heads its corporate and transactional practice group. His work is focused on health care and private equity, with a client base that includes Goldman Sachs, Altaris Capital Partners, The Blackstone Group and The Carlyle Group, according to the firm’s website.

“We have a wonderful McDermott family with an incredibly hard-working Midwestern culture,” Coleman said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “We want to continue to grow our platform that focuses on high-quality, top-of-the-market work for our clients.”

Coleman said he will give up his full-time practice while continuing his client relationships.

Coleman will take charge of the sprawling Chicago-based firm—which has more than 1,000 lawyers in 20 offices—at the start of next year, succeeding Jeffrey Stone and Peter Sacripanti, who have led McDermott for eight years as co-chairmen. The chairman’s term is for one year, but leaders have typically served for seven or eight years.

Thursday’s vote was cast by the 21 partners who sit on the firm’s management committee, and a majority vote was needed to win. (Technically the position is chairman of the management committee.) Following the usual procedure, the voting was done anonymously and committee members weren’t told the tallies of each vote, only whether a majority has been reached.

Four other partners had campaigned for the top spot: Sarah Chapin Columbia, who is based in Boston and heads the firm’s intellectual property practice; Lazar Raynal, a Chicago-based partner who took over leadership of the firm’s litigation group from Stone; David Rogers, a Washington, D.C., partner who heads the firm’s employee benefits, compensation, labor and employment practice group; and David Taub, a New York partner who heads the financial institutions group in New York.

Coleman said the other candidates have all pledged their support. “Each one of them said, ‘I’m here for you,’” he said.

“Ira is an exceptional leader, and I am fully confident in his ability to take the reins and lead our firm into the future,” Sacripanti said in a statement. Stone added: “I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Ira over many years, and have seen first-hand the commitment and passion he brings every day to our clients and our people.”

Sacripanti and Stone will remain on the firm’s management committee and will practice law full time.

McDermott has been on a lateral partner hiring spree recently. Last week the firm announced that Robert Goldstein, previously a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, has joined to head the private equity group in its New York office. Earlier this month it announced the addition of Rebecca Martin, who was co-chief of the civil frauds unit and health care fraud coordinator at the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office. Steven Eckhaus, who represents executives in large compensation deals, moved his practice this month from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Jeremy Dickens, formerly co-head of the private equity practice at Shearman & Sterling, joined the firm in July.

Last year, McDermott’s revenue declined by 0.9 percent, to $891.5 million; its revenue still sits significantly below pre-recession levels, when it peaked at $978 million in 2007. Revenue per lawyer at the Chicago-based firm inched up 1.1 percent last year, to $910,000, and profits per equity partner rose 3.3 percent, to $1.58 million.

Contact Susan Beck at On Twitter: @susanmbeck