Law Firms

Orrick to Split Transactions and Litigation Groups In Attempt to Boost Profit

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Clarified: Leaders at Orrick Herrington & Suttcliffe approved a five-way split of the firm’s transactions and litigation groups last month in an effort to boost profitability and re-brand its marketing efforts.

The action, effective Jan. 30, comes as the firm prepares for the retirement in two years of chairman and CEO Ralph Baxter, who led the firm’s global identity initiatives for the past 21 years, the Daily Journal reports (sub. req.)

“We want to present ourselves as a firm that’s built around those sectors and that we are also global,” Baxter told the Daily Journal. “I think in the last 10 years, a lot of what the world has noticed about us has been about our geographic expansion. We went from being a U.S. firm to being a truly international firm with leading practices in Asia, Europe and the United States. We will continue to grow geographically, but that growth will be focused on the growth in these practice areas rather than be driven by geographic growth.”

The new divisions will be led by lawyers in the U.S. and Europe who will also have expanded roles directing the future growth of the firm, a move that came after complaints by some practice groups of under-representation on the firm’s current executive committee, according to the Daily Journal. While Baxter told the newswire there had been no official complaints, he did add that the new structure will enable the firm to keep a closer eye on lawyers’ business generation and firm contributions as it strives to increase headcount and profitability over the next three years.

“There are so many things we can do to operate the firm in a more profitable way,” Baxter said, according to the Daily Journal, adding that the firm would have been more profitable over the past three years if leaders had “been more aggressive on the economics and less faithful to the firm’s culture.”

Updated on Jan. 6 to clarify that according to the Daily Journal the move came after complaints, although Baxter says he is unaware of any official complaints.

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