White and Williams Names First Female Managing Partner
White and Williams Executive Director Ken Gibb told The Legal on Monday that the decision was unanimous and called Santelle "a good, all-around organized and respected attorney at the firm who definitely garnered the support of everybody."
Gibb said that despite the difficult circumstances that necessitated picking a new managing partner, choosing Santelle for the role was "fairly easy."
"She had been with the firm for quite a while and had done a really good job of growing [the commercial litigation] practice area and had the respect of all partners within the group," Gibb said.
Peter Parashes, chair of White and Williams' subrogation department and a member of the executive committee, echoed those sentiments in a firm press release.
"We at White and Williams feel fortunate and proud that we have a partner of Patricia Santelle's caliber," Parashes said. "Patti is an exceptional human being, an outstanding lawyer and a person who possesses the intellect, leadership qualities and energy necessary to be successful in the position. We are confident that we will have continued growth and success under her leadership."
Gibb said Santelle and Cellucci worked closely during the commercial litigation department leadership transition and that Cellucci often confided in Santelle about the firm's direction.
According to Gibb, the firm acted quickly in naming a successor to Cellucci following his death, in part as a show of solidarity.
"I think that for our own best interest, there wasn't going to be a whole lot that was gained by waiting, and we believed we had a strong group of people who could take over," Gibb said, adding, "We thought it good to show not only the firm but our client base that we are strong, able to move forward and make a tough decision in certainly trying times, and that we're all sticking together, supporting each other and are willing to do whatever it takes to be a successful firm."
Gibb said that just before Cellucci's death, the firm had announced its intention to develop a five-year strategic plan and had appointed Santelle to the subcommittee tasked with formulating that plan.
While the firm does not currently have a plan in place, Gibb said the firm had identified several growth areas under Cellucci and will continue moving forward with those expansions.