Philip Inglima and Angela Styles of Crowell & Moring

A switch of styles is in the offing at Crowell & Moring.

As the seasons changed in late September, the firm’s equity partnership ushered in a new top leader. Angela Styles, a government contracts partner in Washington, D.C., tapped in early 2015 to replace Kent Gardiner as Crowell & Moring’s chair, is now poised to cede that role to Philip Inglima, a member of the firm’s white-collar and regulatory enforcement group in the nation’s capital.

Internet records show that Inglima’s biography page on Crowell & Moring’s website was changed in late September to note his new role as chair of the firm’s three-person executive committee. Inglima, a former member of the board of directors at Georgetown University, is also a member and past chair of Crowell & Moring’s diversity council.

Gardiner, a litigator elected chair of Crowell & Moring in 2006, served three terms in the top leadership role. He replaced John Macleod, a now retired founding partner of the firm. Styles, a former co-chair of the Crowell & Moring’s government contracts group, was one of only a few women to lead an Am Law 100 firm.

She will continue to serve as Crowell & Moring’s chair until February 2018, according to an internal memorandum provided to The National Law Journal. Styles and Inglima “will work together to ensure a seamless transition of leadership over the next six months,” the firm said.

In a statement to The National Law Journal, a Crowell & Moring spokesman confirmed the previously unannounced leadership change and said that the firm conducts an election every three years in September for a leadership term that begins on March 1 of the following year.

“We held that election recently and our partners elected Philip Inglima as chair-elect,” said Crowell & Moring in its statement, which noted that its new leader has “nearly 30 years of legal experience in private practice and with the government.”

But behind the scenes, there appears to be at least some internal rancor about Inglima’s sudden ascent to leadership and Styles’ short-lived tenure as chair. Three sources familiar with internal machinations at Crowell & Moring said that there appeared to be disagreement within the partnership about the direction of the Washington, D.C.-based firm, such as a desire to pursue merger opportunities in New York and expand its portfolio of practice groups beyond its traditional strength in the government contracts space.

Crowell & Moring enjoyed a successful financial year in 2016, as gross revenue soared 20 percent, to $434.5 million, while profits per equity partner jumped 40 percent, to $1.45 million. Styles attributed the sizeable gains, in part, to an increase in contingency work. The firm also moved to close small offices in Anchorage, Cairo and Cheyenne, Wyoming, which Styles considered to be outside of its strategic focus.

Crowell & Moring, formed in 1979 by a 53-lawyer group that broke away from Jones Day, also pursued a potential merger last year with New York’s Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke. While those talks eventually ended, Crowell & Moring sought to keep up with its inside-the-Beltway brethren by expanding its 50-lawyer New York office, engaging in merger talks with Herrick, Feinstein. But both firms went their separate ways in April without a merger deal.

Nonetheless, under Styles’ leadership, Crowell & Moring has been busy on the lateral recruitment front in 2017, bringing on new partners in a number of cities. Styles has spoken publicly of her interest in seeing the firm expand on both coasts and in certain key regulatory and financial centers, while growing its litigation and corporate offerings to clients.

It will be up to Inglima to determine whether or not Crowell & Moring continues to follow that strategy. Like Styles, who joined the firm in 2007 after leaving Miller & Chevalier, Inglima came to Crowell & Moring as a lateral partner, having joined the firm in 2005 from what was then called Baach Robinson & Lewis. That could very well be where the similarities end.

Additional reporting by Christine Simmons.