Donald Mrozek has stepped down from his role as chairman of Hinshaw & Culbertson, the firm announced on Thursday.
Mrozek, who was succeeded by Kevin Joseph Burke on June 1, held the position for 26 years.
Under Mrozek’s leadership, Hinshaw more than doubled in size. When he first took the helm, the firm had about 200 lawyers, almost all of whom were in Illinois, but today, Hinshaw has 525 lawyers in 11 different states. In the last year alone, the firm added more than 50 attorneys domestically and opened its first international office in London.
“By 1989, when I actually took over, we had changed our strategic direction from being a Chicago firm to being an Illinois firm, and we were just starting to become a regional firm,” Mrozek said. “In about 1998 our focus changed to becoming a national law firm.”
Burke played down the suggestion that Hinshaw’s new presence in London heralds the next phase of the firm’s growth, or significant expansion abroad. “In the immediate term, our focus is to effect the integration of our new lawyers,” he said.
In an interview with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in 2012, Mrozek suggested the firm was considering opening offices in China, Europe, and South America. Asked about the article, Mrozek said there aren’t any concrete plans to expand internationally at the moment but, for the most part, stood by his original comment.
“We’ll continue to grow in our major market cities in North America,” Mrozek said. “Will we grow in Europe? Yes. Will we grow in China? Maybe. I took a lot of shit for that South America comment, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Asked if he has any special plans coming into his new role, Burke said he’s trying to take advantage of the transition period by soliciting input from attorneys about the firm’s future.
“I’m trying to do things that are a little more progressive,” Burke said. “There are a couple of management committees that I immediately shifted to paperless.”
At Burke’s urging, the firm is also moving into a new building in downtown Chicago, where all of the offices, from Burke’s down to a junior associate’s, will be the same size.
In addition to his long tenure and the firm’s substantial growth, Burke said Mrozek’s tenure will be remembered for an early commitment to diversity.
“In the very beginning, out of nowhere, Don emphasized the need to diversify our ranks in all aspects. Very early on, we had an LGBT member of our management committee. It was a really receptive and open environment. I’m proud of that. Don should be proud of that.”
Mrozek said he’s leaving Hinshaw — which specializes in insurance cases, representation of professionals, business litigation, and mid-market transactions — in capable hands.
“Kevin is a strategic thinker who’s also a great communicator,” he said. “That’s a rare combination. The firm is unbelievably fortunate to have someone with those strong suits as its leader.”
Not that Mrozek, who has presided over most of Hinshaw’s growth transformation, is stepping away from the firm. “He’s going to be very active and engaged still,” Burke said. “He’s not guy who’s going out to pasture.”