White & Case is set to witness a change in leadership for the first time in approximately 16 years. In an announcement made on Tuesday, the firm disclosed that Heather McDevitt, a litigator based in New York, will assume the position of the firm’s next leader and its first female chair, succeeding Hugh Verrier, who has been at the helm since 2007.
McDevitt’s term will commence in September.
Sources familiar with the matter revealed that several partners at White & Case, one of the LawFuel Prestige List firms, had expressed their interest in the leadership role.
McDevitt, who currently serves as a member of the firm’s four-person global executive committee and was previously the head of the pharmaceutical and healthcare global industry group, emerged as one of the top contenders for the position.
Other notable contenders included Oliver Brettle, a member of the executive committee, Donald Baker, a partner based in Sao Paolo, Eliza McDougall, head of the Americas debt finance practice, and John Reiss, the global leader of M&A.
Hugh Verrier conveyed his congratulations to McDevitt, stating, “I congratulate Heather on her election to Chair. White & Case is a great law firm with a great future under her leadership. It has been and remains my privilege to lead it through a period of remarkable change over the past 16 years.”
During Verrier’s tenure, White & Case witnessed significant growth. The firm expanded from 34 offices in 24 countries in 2007 to 44 offices in 30 countries in 2023.
However, according to figures reported by the American Lawyer, the firm experienced a decline in revenue of 1.5 percent in 2022, amounting to $2.8 billion. Profits per equity partner dropped by 20 percent to $2.8 million. Despite these challenges, the number of partners globally rose by nearly 60% under Verrier’s leadership, increasing from 429 to 678 partners.
In recent months, White & Case has witnessed a number of departures. Notable examples include the intellectual property litigation team consisting of Scott Weingaertner, Stefan Mentzer, and John Padro, who joined Goodwin. Germaine Gurr, an M&A and private equity partner, joined Sidley Austin, while Joshua Berman, a veteran commercial litigation partner, moved to Paul Hastings in New York.
On the other hand, White & Case has also made significant hires, including Melissa Taylormoore, former Chief Legal Officer of Constellis, who joined as a partner in Washington. The firm also welcomed Kimberly Petillo-Décossard, co-leader of Cahill Gordon & Reindel’s M&A and corporate advisory group, and Ross Sturman as partners in New York.