Lancaster, Pa.-based Hartman Underhill & Brubaker has named Kim R. Smith its new managing partner.

Smith, who took over the role from partner Mark Stanley on Jan. 1, is the firm’s first female managing partner and one of only a handful of female firm heads in Pennsylvania.

Because the firm does not impose term limits on its managing partners, Smith is only the fifth attorney to serve in that role in Hartman Underhill’s 35-year history.

Smith said the firm has a “rather informal” process in which its management committee votes to elect a new managing partner, typically looking for someone who has held other leadership positions at the firm.

Smith has been a member of the management committee since 2006 and currently chairs the firm’s school and municipal law group, focusing her practice on advising public and private-sector clients on employment law matters.

Smith said she plans to continue her full-time practice but will, over the next few years, transition her practice head position to another attorney at the firm.

As managing partner, Smith said her role will largely involve spearheading the firm’s growth and client service initiatives.

According to Smith, one of the major focal points for the firm during her tenure will be succession planning.

“We have a group of attorneys here who are all in their later 50s and early 60s so we’re working on a very strategic and thoughtful plan for putting our clients in touch with our younger associates,” Smith said.

Smith added that for a 19-lawyer firm with a strong presence in its local community, maintaining longstanding client relationships, even after the partners who may have initiated those relationships move on, is vital.

“Attorney-client relationships are so grounded in trust,” Smith said. “They’re not something you can just pass off to somebody without a very thoughtful approach. We’re very intentional about exposing our younger lawyers to our clients.”

Read more in an upcoming edition of The Legal.