Philadelphia-based Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby has elected a new leader from outside Philadelphia, replacing chairman Paul Fires after 10 years in the post.
Andrew L. Indeck, a partner in Weber Gallagher’s Bedminster, New Jersey, office, is the firm’s new chairman, effective Monday. An insurance coverage defense partner, Indeck has practiced at the firm since 2010. Fires has been chairman since 2008.
“I’ve been in the position for slightly over three terms, and I definitely believe in leadership succession and bringing in new ideas, as well as people who are younger,” Fires said. “I’m not a person who ever thought we should have a leader for a generation.”
Looking three or four years back, Fires said he had hoped Indeck would eventually express interest in leading the firm. Once Fires decided to step down this year, he said, he suggested Indeck as the new chairman. The 18-person equity partner tier ultimately voted in agreement, he said.
“Andy brings a lot of business knowledge to the table as well as an interest in all of our partners and all of our practices,” Fires said.
Indeck has been an equity partner for five years and has served on the board of directors for about a year-and-a-half. Throughout that time, he said, he worked closely with Fires in anticipation of taking on the chairman role.
Fires said he wasn’t sure he would be able to maintain his workers’ compensation practice when he became chairman over a decade ago. But he did so, he said, and plans to continue growing it after stepping down, taking more time to travel to other markets and cross-sell with others at the firm.
During Fires’ tenure as chairman, Weber Gallagher went from about 70 lawyers to 110, and from seven offices to 10, he said. That footprint growth is reflected in the firm’s choice of its new Bedminster-based chairman, Fires and Indeck said.
“That was certainly something people questioned initially … in terms of the leader of the firm being outside Philadelphia,” Indeck said. However, the board of directors and management committee have previously included non-Philadelphia lawyers, he noted. “It reflects the reality that the firm is not entirely Philadelphia-centric anymore,” he said.
“I think 25 years ago I might have had an issue with that. But based on our growth and based on technology and based on it being 2018, I have no issue with it,” Fires said of the new chairman’s location. “You go where your talent is, and that’s how you run a business today.”
Going forward, Indeck said he hopes to continue conservatively growing the firm—particularly in New York, where it just expanded and opened a new office through a group lateral move.
“Now that we are there and we have a fully functioning New York office … that’s going to be one huge growth area for us,” he said. “I know the firm believes we can replicate that success going south,” to Washington, D.C., Maryland or Northern Virginia.
The greatest challenge facing firms such as Weber Gallagher, Indeck said, is keeping in line with clients’ rate expectations. “We have a range of clients that keep us within a fairly tight rate range,” he said.
However, Indeck added, clients seem to be tied to the firm as a whole, not just the relationship partner they work with. And that opens up opportunities for growth in other markets.
“If they believe we can do the same work for them in a different location, that’s a huge plus for them,” Indeck said. “We’re very comfortable being a regional firm … and that region is expanding.”