The chairman-to-be of a venerable Chicago law firm is a relative youngster, a heavyweight Washington lobbyist and deeply involved in recreational programs for disabled children.
Portnoy lives in Washington and will become chairman of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP next year, succeeding Duane C. Quaini, whose term expires in 2007.
For the first time, a Sonnenschein chairman will live and work in a city other than Chicago, although the bulk of the firm’s lawyers will remain there.
Portnoy, 40, will be the new boss of a 100-year-old law firm with more than 700 lawyers and gross revenue last year of nearly $450 million. He has been with Sonnenschein for four years.
‘I am relatively new to the firm,’ Portnoy said. ‘It’s humbling and I am honored and mindful of the enormous privilege that I have.’
Portnoy was hired to found Sonnenschein’s Public Law & Policy Strategies Group, which specialized in political intelligence and lobbying at the congressional level. He said his group has gone from zero revenue to $20 million a year.
‘It has been going very well,’ Portnoy said.
Like many large law firms, Sonnenschein likes to position itself as a national firm, and thus downplay the idea of a headquarters. As a practical matter, Chicago is the firm’s birthplace, administrative center and largest office. But Portnoy plans to remain in Washington.