Andrei Iancu, Irell & Manella
Andrei Iancu, Irell & Manella ()

Ellisen Turner has been named the next managing partner of Irell & Manella as the Los Angeles-based firm’s current leader, Andrei Iancu, prepares to reach his term limit in 2018.

Iancu was also nominated last week by President Donald Trump to replace Michelle Lee as director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Iancu, who assumed leadership of Irell & Manella in 2012, has received support for his nomination from powerful industry groups.

The nomination of Iancu could mean that Ellisen takes on Iancu’s leadership responsibilities before the conclusion of his four-year term in February 2018, a period when the firm’s managing partner transitions usually occur, Turner said.

Turner, who joined Irell & Manella in 2003 and made partner in 2010, has served on the firm’s executive committee and as chair of its hiring committee. The intellectual property litigator, who represents both plaintiffs and defendants in patent matters, has delivered $5 billion in total compensation to his clients, according to Irell & Manella.

In his new role, Turner (pictured right) said he plans to continue the firm’s focus on “commitment to excellence among our lawyers and commitment to clients to give them the best quality services.”

“That’s what’s made us successful,” Turner said.

Turner also hopes to invest resources in growing Irell & Manella’s global investigations and anticorruption practice, which is led by Los Angeles-based partner Jason Linder. Linder, who was an associate at Irell & Manella from 2002 to 2007, re-joined the firm in May after a decade of working for the federal government, most recently as a senior trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit in Washington, D.C.

Another priority for Turner will be recruitment, which he said had become more difficult for Irell & Manella and other firms as law school classes have shrunk. The firm’s head count dipped 20.9 percent in 2015 after six partners and about 25 associates left to open the litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan.

In the year after those departures, Irell & Manella’s gross revenue declined by 19.2 percent and its profits per partner slipped 11.6 percent, according to The American Lawyer’s reporting. By late 2016, the firm had 112 lawyers and gross revenue had fallen another 11 percent, to $178 million. While other longtime Los Angeles-centric firms like Munger, Tolles & Olson have expanded outside the city in recent years, Irell & Manella has only one office outside Los Angeles in nearby Newport Beach, California.

Turner said he’s not concerned about Irell & Manella’s finances this year, which he characterized as “either steady or an increase over prior years,” noting that the appearance of his firm’s fortunes could vary based on the indicators used to evaluate them.

“Financial success is a result,” he said. “It’s not a goal.”

In a statement prepared by the firm, longtime Irell & Manella rainmaker Morgan Chu called Turner “uniquely suited” to becoming its next leader.

“Ellisen is part of our deep team of multiple generations of superstar litigators and significant business generators,” Chu said. “In addition to his impressive practice, he is also an exceptional and natural leader who has been actively involved with shaping the future and culture of the firm for many years.”