Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has named longtime corporate partner Ackneil (Trey) Muldrow III as partner-in-charge of the firm’s New York office. He succeeds Daniel Golden, who spent 14 years in the role and will remain co-chair of the firm’s global financial restructuring practice.
Speaking on leadership goals, Muldrow, 48, said the New York office is seeking strategic growth through lateral partners and associates—in particular in corporate M&A, litigation and investment fund practices.
He said the New York office has already seen organic head count growth of about 20 percent in the last three years, driven by existing and new client demand, with most of that growth in the associate ranks. After starting with five lawyers in 1993, Akin Gump’s New York office now has about 250 lawyers, including in investment funds, corporate, restructuring, litigation and intellectual property practices, Muldrow said.
Muldrow started at Akin Gump in 1997, arriving from Dewey Ballantine, a predecessor of Dewey & LeBoeuf. When he left Dewey and told a partner there he was going to Akin Gump, he said, the partner asked him, “What’s that?” Now, New York is Akin Gump’s second largest office by head count, after Washington, D.C., while Dewey, which collapsed in 2012, is history.
“Are we as big as Paul Weiss in terms of numbers? No, but we’re in transactions with all of the leading New York firms” on a day-to-day basis, Muldrow said. “We have room to grow and that’s probably one of the most exciting things about this role.”
“We’re in a good spot and we’re gaining ground around every day,” he said.
One of his leadership goals, he said, was continuing to communicate the firm’s growth plans within the office and integrate its new hires to “make sure you have the coherent culture that’s inclusive and allows people to thrive on opportunities.” He added, “You have to make sure there’s transparency to make sure people understand what we’re working toward.”
Despite the fast growth in New York, Akin Gump saw a few lateral partner exits last year. Each departure, he said, offers a chance to understand the reasons for the exit, communicate plans with the office and learn if “there’s anything you can do to improve.”
“In each case, there was a departure,” he said, “there was a reflection.”
After last year’s exit of a pair of private equity partners who went to Sidley Austin, for instance, the firm engaged with recruiters to explain the firm’s goals and senior leadership’s commitment to growth. The firm also explained to associates its business plan, he said.
Muldrow, the firm’s first African-American leader of the New York office, said his long-term career at Akin Gump and his new leadership role reflects the firm’s interest in making sure attorneys have opportunities for success. His appointment also reflects the firm’s commitment to the corporate practice in New York, he said.
While serving as partner-in-charge of the Manhattan office, Muldrow will continue his corporate practice, including advising on buyouts, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and fund restructurings.