Legal recruiting giant Major, Lindsey & Africa has added another outgoing Big Law leader to its ranks, announcing on Wednesday the hire of Keith Wetmore, a former chairman and current chairman emeritus of Morrison & Foerster.
Wetmore will join Major Lindsey’s office in San Francisco as a managing director, the legal recruiter said in a statement. He’s expected to finish out this year at MoFo, where he remains chairman emeritus, and start at Major Lindsey in early 2018. Outside of his leadership responsibilities at MoFo, Wetmore’s legal practice focused on transactional financing matters.
Welcoming Wetmore to his new professional home, Kirsten Vasquez, Major Lindsey’s executive director of law firm recruiting, said in a statement that his many years of experience as the leader of a large, global law firm would be a boon for the recruiting firm as it continues to advise partners on potential career moves and law firms on their efforts to grow.
“Keith is an expert law firm leader who has a wealth of insight on the Bay Area and global legal markets from his many years of experience,” Vasquez said. “With his firsthand experience as a law firm partner and as the chair of one of the world’s most prestigious law firms, he will bring a unique, indeed, perhaps unsurpassed, perspective into partners’ career development and into law firms’ growth strategies.”
The news of Wetmore’s move comes after Major Lindsey, which announced this year the creation of a talent management consulting group, hired former Shearman & Sterling intellectual property transactions head Richard Hsu in May, also as a managing director in its San Francisco office.
It also marks a new chapter in Wetmore’s career. He previously spent 12 years, starting in 2000, as MoFo’s chairman and he has served as chairman emeritus at the law firm since 2012. Wetmore’s chairman role at MoFo also made him one of the first openly gay men to lead a large law firm, something he discussed frankly in a 2001 interview with The American Lawyer, shortly after he took the reins at the firm.
His leadership roles involved shaping MoFo’s strategic direction and, according to Major Lindsey, his time in the firm’s leadership coincided with a doubling of MoFo’s revenue and a tripling of its net income. The latest results put the firm at No. 31 on the Am Law 100 list, with $945 million in gross revenue and average profits per partner of $1.41 million in 2016.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Wetmore said he was looking forward to taking his firm leadership experience, which included scores of lateral partner hires, into the recruiting realm at Major Lindsey.
“During my tenure, I hired over 100 lateral partners and counseled hundreds of partners annually on their professional development,” Wetmore said. “I’m looking forward to building on this passion as both a career consultant to lawyers and a strategic adviser to firms in my new role with Major, Lindsey & Africa.”
MoFo’s current chairman, Larren Nashelsky, also issued a statement on Wednesday thanking Wetmore for his time there and wishing him well at Major Lindsey.
“During Keith’s 12 years as chair, the firm grew bigger and stronger while preserving our unique culture and values,” said Nashelsky. “Though we will miss Keith’s intellect and good humor, we look forward to working with him in his new role as we continue to add talented lawyers to grow and strengthen our Bay Area practices.”