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October was a month of innovation for law firms as new c-suite administrative positions were added with a focus on business development, client experience and diversity.

The month started with Norton Rose Fulbright’s Gerry Pecht taking over as Global Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Peter Martyr. This move was originally slated for the start of 2021. This was not the only leadership shakeup at the firm as new administrative roles were formed to further emphasize Norton Rose’s global reach and improve on client services, outreach, and business development. The management team now includes Chief Client Officer Jane Caskey, and Chief Strategic Alignment, Innovation and People Officer Wayne Spanner.

Pecht has been a core member of the firm’s global executive committee since 2013 and continues to be a leader in dispute resolution and litigation. Having joined the Houston office in 1980, Pecht is the first U.S. lawyer to lead Norton Rose.

Caskey will focus on client strategies and services. No stranger to leadership positions, Caskey has been a member of the firm’s global executive committee and serves as the global head of risk advisory.

Spanner will oversee various law firm functions such as human resources, professional development, training, and diversity and inclusion programs. Spanner will coordinate with business development efforts to improve upon client services in all regions. He was most recently the managing partner of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Australia branch and is a member of the global executive committee. He will relocate to the New York office.

The current pandemic has played a role in the firm’s direction, highlighting a need to better client outreach. Other notable law firms have taken note of this trend and established new c-suite roles of their own, emphasizing client values and the importance of diversity.

Jasmine Trillos-Decarie joined Lathrop GPM as the firm’s first chief client officer, focused on business development and innovating the administrative team to enhance client experiences. Trillos-Decarie is a seasoned client officer and law firm administrator. She was most recently chief client service officer for Stoel Rives LLP and was previously the director of marketing and business development for Foley Hoag LLP and the director of marketing for Goodwin Procter LLP.

Bryan Cave LLP also introduced new global leaders and promoted Sean R. Odendahl to chief transformation officer. Odendahl was elevated as part of the firm’s “Project Advance,” to promote the firm’s business development and international growth. Odendahl is a longtime corporate partner in the firm.

Other noteworthy c-suite additions include the promotion of Cynthia R. Howard as Greenspoon Marder LLP’s chief marketing officer, having worked previously as the firm’s practice development director. Law firms Wiley Rein LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP have also taken steps to innovate their administration with new chief diversity roles. Rashida V. MacMurray-Abdullah joined Wiley as their chief diversity officer, joining from Deloitte, where she was the senior manager, Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory. Sylvia F. James was appointed as Winston & Strawn’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, having previously served as director of diversity and inclusion.

These slew of new c-suite positions highlight the value of law firms’ administrative roles. This transformation of law firm management reaffirms their commitment to their customers and improves on diversity initiatives.

David Yang

Research Analyst, Law Firms