For the third time in three years, Philadelphia-based Berger Montague has announced a new firm chair.
Eric Cramer, who started at Berger Montague in 1995, took over the role Jan. 1, succeeding Sherrie Savett. The firm said he has begun a three-year term, which is renewable.
Savett, who joined the firm in 1975 and is now chair emeritus, became chair just one year before, taking over for founding member Merrill Davidoff. Davidoff also spent one year as chair, after H. Laddie Montague Jr. spent 14 years in the role.
The firm said that sequence of events was part of a transition process it has been working on for more than three years, with the goal of shifting leadership duties from the firm’s founding members to the next generation of leading partners. Asked last year how long she planned to serve as chair, Savett had declined to answer.
Despite the transitions of recent years, Cramer is still only the fifth chair at the firm, which will turn 50 in 2020.
Savett noted that Berger Montague is still led by a nine-member executive committee as well as the chair, and that those two branches of leadership work collaboratively together. In announcing the changes, the firm referred to a “new generation of leaders” that includes Cramer and executive committee members Shanon Carson, David Sorensen and Todd Collins.
“Now it’s more of a collaboration between the founding members and this new group of leaders,” Cramer said in an interview. “This is all part of a well-thought-out transition plan that we all worked together very hard to agree to and put together so we would have stable leadership of the firm.”
Cramer said partners at Berger Montague had watched other firms struggle to integrate new leadership and wanted to avoid the same fate.
“We went through this transition very smoothly, very collaboratively and in a positive manner,” Savett said. “We think we have strength in that the founding members and the newer leaders worked so closely.”
During Savett’s time as chair, Berger Montague moved its headquarters to 1818 Market Street in Philadelphia, relocating out of its original location on Locust Street in Rittenhouse. That allowed the firm to go from occupying nine floors in two adjacent historic buildings to one-and-a-third floors in a Center City office space.
The move “was a huge transition, but we have beautiful space, and it’s the highest technology space. And it has added a new energy to the firm, I believe,” Savett said.
Also in recent years, the firm added offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.
Cramer said as chair, and with the new generation of executive committee leaders, he hopes to “continue to integrate the past, the legacy of the firm, and to carry it forward.” That includes expanding the firm’s work into complex cases that are not necessarily class actions and developing more future leaders.
“I’d like to inspire our lawyers to be more entrepreneurial,” he added.
Cramer is an antitrust lawyer, whose work started in the pharmaceutical industry and has expanded to include other industries. He recently served as co-lead counsel in a case over alleged drywall price-fixing, which has resulted in a class recovery of over $190 million as of last year.
He is one of more than 60 lawyers at Berger Montague, which represents clients in civil litigation, with a focus on complex matters and class actions.