Update, 2/7/13, 1:30 p.m. EST: This story has been revised to include a statement from Greenberg Traurig responding to the assertion that the management changes announced Wednesday were being made without a partnership vote.
In a management shuffle announced Wednesday, Greenberg Traurig has promoted Miami shareholder Hilarie Bass to co-president, making her one of the highest-ranking women at a major U.S. law firm.
Bass moves up from global operating shareholder. She shares the presidency with Brian L. Duffy, a Denver shareholder who has been global litigation chair.
Cesar L. Alvarez and Matt Gorson move to co-chairs from executive chair and president, respectively.
Firm CEO Richard Rosenbaum also named four vice presidents:
• Ernest Greer, managing shareholder of the Atlanta office, who is African-American.
• Brad Kaufman, a West Palm Beach shareholder and co-chair of national securities litigation and leader of the firm’s associate development program.
• Patricia Menendez-Cambo, a Miami shareholder who serves as chair of the global practice and co-chair of the infrastructure and project finance practice.
• Keith Shapiro, chair of the Chicago office and co-chair of the business reorganization practice.
Larry Hoffman’s title also changes from to founding chair from chair.
In a statement, Rosenbaum said, "Change will occur in an orderly manner over several years. We are pleased to have so many talented leaders and performers, not just those with titles. I am sure this evolving team will be as strong as those that have preceded us and have the same level of friendship, trust and affection among each other as has always defined Greenberg’s leadership team since 1967."
The promotions were decided at a firmwide management meeting last week at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
A Greenberg shareholder who asked to remain anonymous said he wasn’t surprised by the changes but a bit dismayed.
"It’s all members of the executive committee promoting themselves," he said. "At other firms, partners get to vote on these things. We found out by email."
But in a statement, a firm spokeswoman said a vote will be conducted among shareholders.
"All of our shareholders will have to vote on this (the changes) because we have to amend the shareholder agreement and the by-laws to implement this package," said Greenberg spokeswoman Lourdes Martinez.
Bass is one of the most powerful female lawyers in South Florida and a litigator for 30 years. She recently completed an eight-year term as the national chair of the 600-member litigation department and serves on the firm’s executive committee. Bass is lead counsel for the home-builder group in the Chinese drywall multi-district litigation and served as lead liaison in prior MDLs. She was not available for comment by deadline.
Former Greenberg Traurig partner Carlos Loumiet, now with DLA Piper in Miami, said Bass earned her promotion.
‘I’m happy for Hilarie," he said. "I think she’s a terrific lawyer and this is a very well-deserved promotion."
Duffy is known as a major rainmaker at the firm and is credited with bringing in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as a client.
Kaufman also is a significant rainmaker.
Gorson and Alvarez, fixtures in Greenberg’s Miami office, have been in management roles at the firm for many years.
Greenberg has had a tough year, issuing a capital call to all partners and facing a $300 million sexual discrimination lawsuit from a former female shareholder. The firm has yet to report its 2012 finances.
Greenberg Traurig is one of the largest law firms in the United States with more than 1,700 lawyers in 35 U.S. and foreign offices. The firm ranked 10th last year on the Am Law 200 list of the top law firms by revenue in the country.