Sidley Austin is changing leaders, swapping Washington-based executive committee chair Carter Phillips for Michael J. Schmidtberger, who has been the managing partner at the firm’s New York office for the past five years.
Phillips, a well-known Supreme Court and appellate lawyer, will step aside after five years in the post. He had been the managing partner of the Washington office for 17 years before assuming the law firm’s top leadership spot in 2012. He will be replaced Jan. 1 by Schmidtberger, 57, who co-leads the firm’s investment funds, advisers, and derivatives practice.
A 28-year firm veteran, Schmidtberger has been a member of the executive committee since 2002 and a management committee member since 2008.
Phillips, 65, who will remain a Sidley partner and continue his practice in the Washington office, praised Schmidtberger’s selection.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike for many years and I am confident he is the right person for this role,” Phillips said. “He embodies our collaborative culture and commitment to exceptional client service.”
In response to questions about whether the leadership change indicated any change in business strategy, Phillips said that litigation will remain a core strength of the firm.
In an email, he pointed out that the firm’s management committee has three litigators among eight members: Mark Hopson, Yvette Ostoloza, and Anne Rea.
In a prepared statement, Schmidtberger said he was honored to have been chosen for the role.
“It is a privilege to carry forward the leadership legacy Carter and his predecessors have instilled throughout their tenures as executive committee chair,” he said.
Schmidtberger will work alongside Larry Barden, chair of the firm’s management committee.
Schmidtberger, a Columbia Law School graduate, is “an incredible talent and highly respected by both clients and colleagues,” Barden said. Schmidtberger will maintain his practice while in his new leadership role, but will step aside as managing partner of Sidley’s New York office when he takes up his new post.
Sidley, which has 2,000 lawyers in 20 offices around the world, reported $1.9 billion in revenue for 2016, according to American Lawyer data. That was up 3.4 percent over the prior year, with gains from litigation and transactional work including its 2015 representation of AT&T Inc. in the company’s $48.5 billion acquisition of satellite television company DirecTV.
Profits per equity partner in 2016 rose to $2.13 million, up 3.1 percent, and revenue per lawyer remained the same, at $1.05 million.