Julie H. Jones will become Ropes & Gray LLP’s first female board chair, the 152-year-old firm announced Monday.
Jones will serve as chair-elect before replacing R. Bradford Malt in 2020 after he retires. Until then, she’ll work with managing partner David C. Chapin and the firm’s governing board, of which she is a member.
“The first thing I’m going to focus on in 2018 is spending time with our partners and our clients,” Jones said.
During the next year, Jones said she will embark on a “listening tour” to meet with more partners of the large international firm and get to know their needs and goals and figure out how to move the firm forward.
She started at the Boston-based firm as a summer associate and has worked her way up the ranks. She already works closely with Malt and Chapin as a member of the firm’s policy committee.
“As a lifer of Ropes & Gray, like David, and someone who really cares about our second 150 years, I couldn’t feel more excited and confident, knowing that the firm is going to be in Julie’s hands,” Malt said in an interview.
Jones is a veteran of mergers and acquisitions, private equity and capital markets, among other areas. She also served as head of Ropes & Gray’s securities and public companies group from 2006-11.
The two-year window before she officially takes over gives Jones time to transition some of her clients to other firm lawyers, Chapin said.
Chapin, who will reach his retirement age during the same year as Malt, said he will begin looking for his own replacement in 2018. Now that Jones has been named chair-elect, she will help decide who will lead the firm with her.
Input from other partners will be crucial in the firm’s decision, Jones said, but two critical attributes she’ll be looking for in a replacement for Chapin are a dedication to high-performance and great people skills.
Jones recently took the lead on private equity and venture capital firm TPG Capital LP’s $2 billion sale of Iasis Healthcare LLC, which owns and operates urban and suburban hospitals, Steward Health Care System LLC, a Boston-based hospital operator.
The firm pointed to her busy year in 2010 as an example of her best work. In that period, Jones represented TPG in its $3 billion acquisition of J. Crew and Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP in its $1.1 billion acquisition of inVentiv Health Inc., and worked on the initial public offering of LPL Financial, an independent broker-dealer.
Jones also led the $11.5 billion leveraged buyout of SunGard Data Systems, a software and technology services company, by a group of private equity firms in 2005.
Ropes & Gray recently experienced several departures. Five partners left for Kirkland & Ellis LLP in August, and two London-based partners left for King & Spalding in June.
Those moves came after the firm spun off its patent prosecution practice in March, prompting more than 100 lawyers and staff to form a new firm, Haley Guiliano LLP.
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