After a one-firm career that spanned more than 30 years, Hilarie Bass, the Miami-based co-president of Greenberg Traurig, will be stepping down in December.
Bass, who concluded a one-year term as president of the American Bar Association in August, is vacating her position to establish the Bass Institute on Diversity and Inclusion, an organization dedicated to tackling issues facing women and minorities in the workplace.
Greenberg Traurig confirmed the prominent litigator’s departure after being contacted by the Daily Business Review, ALM’s Florida-based litigation publication.
Bass is just the latest leader to leave Greenberg Traurig, which saw its profits grow 7.2 percent in 2017 to $1.477 billion. Earlier this summer, the co-chair of its global restructuring and bankruptcy practice Nancy Mitchell, along with two other Greenberg Traurig partners, jumped to O’Melveny & Myers in New York.
Bass has spent her entire legal career with Greenberg Traurig. She told the Daily Business Review that she “fell in love on the spot” while interviewing with the firm during her second year at the University of Miami School of Law.
At Greenberg Traurig, Bass’ mentor was Mel Greenberg, one of the international law firm’s three co-founders. Over the course of her 37-year tenure, Bass served in a number of prestigious positions. Prior to being appointed as co-president in 2013, she spent eight years as the chair of the firm’s 600-member litigation department. She also founded the firm’s Women’s Initiative, aimed at empowering other women to excel in the legal field as she had. In total, she spent more than 20 years on Greenberg Traurig’s executive committee.
Read Greenberg Traurig’s statement on co-president Hilarie Bass’ departure:
Bass also acquired a reputation as a formidable trial attorney in Florida courts. Perhaps most notably, she served as the lead attorney representing the foster children of Frank Martin Gill in the landmark 2010 case that struck down Florida’s ban on child adoptions by gay and other LGBTQ individuals.
As president of the ABA, Bass did not shy away from addressing high-button issues, like the lack of diversity, facing the profession. She spearheaded the ABA’s creation of a “zero tolerance” manual to provide guidance for the legal profession in dealing with sexual harassment. She also led a study by the ABA into why women in the latter part of their careers are leaving the profession, the results of which will be presented at the end of the year to the ABA House of Delegates.
“As one of the premier trial lawyers in the country, Hilarie has been a tremendous trailblazer and mentor throughout her career at Greenberg Traurig, while leading the largest practice group in the firm to great success,” Richard A. Rosenbaum, Greenberg Traurig’s executive chair, wrote in a statement released Wednesday. “She will be greatly missed, as we are extremely proud of the work Hilarie has done, and will continue to do as she takes on issues of great importance to the profession and really to all organizations where women and minorities face unique challenges. We are sure we will continue to collaborate and support each other for years to come.”
In the statement regarding her departure, Bass wrote, “As much as l love my clients, cases and colleagues, nothing is more important to me than this work. I will be forever grateful to the firm, and my friends and colleagues at Greenberg Traurig for the years of support and the many opportunities provided to me by them.”
Meghan Tribe contributed to this report.