Washington D.C.-based law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld announced Monday that it has chosen litigator Kim Koopersmith as its chairperson, making her the first woman to hold the position.

Koopersmith, an honoree at InsideCounsel’s 2011 Transformative Leadership Awards, has been the firm’s U.S. managing partner since 2008. Her appointment is the culmination of a five-month selection process, during which Koopersmith visited each of Akin Gump’s offices and pledged to promote international and domestic growth at the firm.

Koopersmith replaces Bruce McLean, whose term as chairman expires on March 31 of next year. During McLean’s 20-year tenure, Akin Gump grew from a Texas firm with 300 lawyers into an international business with 17 offices and more than 850 attorneys. He will remain at the firm as a senior executive partner.

The firm may also reduce the size of its management committee, which currently has roughly 20 members. “A smaller committee would have the potential to immerse themselves in the issues with greater intensity as opposed to 20-plus practicing lawyers,” explained Koopersmith, according to Thomson Reuters.

In 2011, Koopersmith won InsideCounsel’s Thomas A. Mars award, presented to a law firm managing partner who has accelerated the economic employment of attorneys of color or women in law firms.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

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