Jordan Leaving Reed Smith to Serve as PNC General Counsel
The 16 voting members of the firm's executive committee, with the exception of Jordan, unanimously voted to name Thomas as the new global managing partner, Jordan said.
Thomas is a commercial litigator who, after serving in the U.S. Department of Justice, joined Reed Smith in 1999 through the firm's combination with Virginia-based Hazel & Thomas. He served for five years as a practice group leader, then as vice chairman of the litigation department for two years. Thomas was elected to the firm's executive committee in 2009 and for the past year has served on the firm's senior management team as chairman of the litigation department, which includes more than 850 attorneys.
Jordan acknowledged the relatively short transition period in an era when many firms announce their succession plans more than a year in advance. But he said Thomas has had a hand in much of the firm's day-to-day management through his previous leadership positions. Jordan also noted that there is a difference of opinion among law firm leaders as to whether a "long, slow transition" is a good or bad thing.
"There is a benefit to clarity in a law firm, and when you're able to make it really clear who's in charge, I think the firm will react really well to that," Jordan said. "It's very clear that Sandy is in charge."
Thomas' selection as global managing partner marks the first time Reed Smith's top leadership position has been housed outside of Pittsburgh. Aside from the announcement earlier this week by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius that Philadelphia-based partner Jami Wintz McKeon will take over as that firm's next chairwoman, a number of large Pennsylvania-based firms have recently looked beyond the state's borders to find their next leader.
Such a trend is perhaps a testament to the increasingly national and global nature of firms as well as their move away from individual office management to management structures more focused across practice and industry groups. Jordan said Thomas' ascension is a natural outgrowth of the firm's expansion strategy.
"Talent rises to the top," regardless of where it is based, Jordan said.
Thomas said he made a point at a recent partner meeting to express how important Pittsburgh is to the history and future of the law firm. In terms of his joining the firm as a lateral relatively recently, Thomas said he feels like he has a good sense of the firm's management style and trajectory by the fact that his tenure has overlapped with a great transformation in the firm from a regional presence to an international law firm.
Experiencing the shift in providing legal services the industry has faced since the economic fallout of 2008 has also left its mark on Thomas.
"That's very much conditioned my way of thinking about how we do business," he said.