Harmon, who started at the firm in 1995 as a summer associate, became the first person of color to assume the role of chairman in the firms’ more than 180-year history.
“It is honoring and humbling to fill this position,” Harmon told Bloomberg Law Dec. 4.
He added that “it’s a little bit sad” that few blacks have held similar senior roles in the legal industry, though he hopes his rise might be an inspiration.
Harmon and Walker are assuming their roles as both of their predecessors end more than a decade leading the firm.
It expanded from 15 to 23 offices in the U.S. and internationally, and Harmon said he and Walker intend to broaden that vision.
“We want to take our firm from being a national firm, to a national powerhouse,” Harmon said.
Collegiality, diversity, and inclusion will be keys to achieving that goal, Harmon said. He said he wants to see the McGuireWoods attract more people who represent the same core values as the firm to help it expand.
Harmon’s predecessor, Cullen, will continue his legal work, representing big name clients “in government investigations and highly sensitive matters of national and international significance,” the firm said.
Cullen is currently representing Vice President Mike Pence in independent counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Walker, who served as deputy managing partner and head of the litigation practice since 2015, said he’ll miss being a trial lawyer in his new full-time management role, and will “live vicariously” through those still practicing like Harmon.
Harmon led McGuireWoods’ Business & Securities Litigation Department since 2015, and has years of experience representing “Fortune 500 companies in complex, high-exposure litigation,” his firm said.
Harmon is a graduate of West Point and was a first lieutenant in Army during the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm.
Walker was primarily involved in trial law before becoming managing partner and headed the firm’s appellate practice a few years back.
Walker said he’s excited to get more involved with the transactional corporate practices, and work more with the lawyers and clients in the areas that are new to him.
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