Varnum LLP recently announced the election of a new chair and executive partner, the top leadership positions within the 175 attorney firm.
Ronald G. DeWaard will serve as chair of the partnership and the Policy Committee, responsible for firm strategy and partner compensation. Scott J. Hill will serve as executive partner, chairing the firm’s Executive Committee, responsible for policy implementation, lean processes and attorney development. DeWaard takes the reins from former Chair Dave Khorey, who served in that position since 2016. Hill takes over from Tom Kyros, who has served as executive partner since 2012.
Varnum has utilized a dual management structure for the past six years, ensuring that client service and management functions are thoroughly fulfilled while allowing the leaders to continue focusing on their legal practices.
DeWaard said the firm plans to continue the growth strategy implemented in recent years by the opening a fourth office in southeast Michigan. The firm also anticipates moving its Ann Arbor office to larger quarters to accommodate growth in that market.
“We have established the Varnum brand in markets well beyond our original West Michigan base, and our goal in the near term is to accelerate growth in those markets,” DeWaard said. “In addition, we will continue to focus on using technology and innovative practices to provide the best possible value to our clients.”
A trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, DeWaard began his legal career with Varnum in 1990. He left in 1994 to serve as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida – Miami. In that office he served in the Economic Crimes Division and later as deputy chief of the Major Crimes Division. He rejoined Varnum in 2001 and focuses his practice on civil and white collar litigation, as well as internal investigations. DeWaard is transitioning to his new role after chairing the firm’s Litigation and Trial Practice Team.
Hill said he expects both he and DeWaard will spend considerable time in southeast Michigan. Hill traces his roots to that region and has spent the last four years not only managing his own practice but also assisting the integration of lateral attorneys into the firm and coaching attorneys on their practice development. DeWaard has significant involvement in southeast Michigan as well, including most recently on the leadership team for a Monitor assigned by the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee OEM compliance with a deferred prosecution agreement related to product defects.
“We continue to have success through organic growth from our entry level hiring as well as our lateral attraction efforts. Integration of these two groups within our outstanding culture is essential to our long term success,” Hill said. “The pace of change in our profession is accelerating and, while we enjoy the strength of a firm founded over 130 years ago, we recognize that we need to proactively walk with our clients to best serve their needs.”
Hill, who joined the firm in 2003, is a corporate attorney with a focus on business representation including M&A, private equity and joint ventures. He works extensively with closely-held businesses on supply chain, governance, succession planning and general corporate matters. His past leadership roles at the firm include service as Corporate Practice Team leader and leading the Attorney Recruitment Committee. Those experiences remain important as the firm continues its expansion plans.
In addition to the new leadership, other management changes include the election of three members to the firm’s Policy Committee, the primary governing body of the firm. Kimberly Clarke, Peter Roth and Perrin Rynders will serve three-year terms on the eight-member committee. Clarke and Roth are new to the committee; Rynders is serving a second term.