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Having been re-elected as White & Case chair over a month ago, Hugh Verrier has rejigged his executive group and put in place a vice chair for the first time.

By Rachel Moloney 12 June 2019

Having been re-elected as White & Case chair over a month ago, Hugh Verrier has rejigged his executive group and put in place a vice chair for the first time.

Two current executive committee members retain their place on the firm’s most senior team; São Paulo partner Donald Baker and former London head Oliver Brettle.

Banking partner and New York-based Dave Koschik meanwhile has taken on the new role of vice chair, meaning he will continue to sit alongside the executive leadership team.

The newest member of the executive is New York partner Heather McDevitt, who is head of the firm’s pharmaceuticals and healthcare group. She is a litigator, acting for clients in the pharma, manufacturing and finance space. She had previously been a member of the firm’s partnership committee, a partner-elected governance body that is the most senior elected group in the firm. Verrier appoints his executive.

Alongside the executive change, the partnership committee has also been reshuffled. Four men and women have been elected, making this a 50/50 gender split for the first time. Gareth Eagles, who appeared in The Lawyer Hot 100 this year, is the sole London appointment, while there are three partners from Washington DC; antitrust partners Peter Carney and Nicole Erb, as well as IP partner Shamita Etienne-Cummings.

From New York, litigator David Hille and banking partner Eliza McDougall make the cut, with M&A partner Vivian Tsoi based in Shanghai and arbitration partner Andrew McDougall the only Continental European representative.

The Lawyer understands Verrier ran unopposed in the chair elections and has held the top job at White & Case since 2007 when he succeeded Duane Wall. Verrier is a former project finance and banking partner, who has been with the firm since 1983. He was based in Moscow before transferring to New York on his appointment as chair, making him the first non-US national to be head of the firm.

Terms last four years at White & Case, meaning Verrier will be in the role until 2023. White & Case hit $1bn revenue for the first time just prior to Verrier’s appointment in 2005, but since then has grown to over $2bn; a milestone it hit over 2018. The firm has been edging ever-closer to the $2bn barrier, and posted global revenues of $1.8bn in 2017.

When Verrier was re-elected for the third time in 2015, he set out the firm’s 2020 strategy targeting growth in the US and London, as well as expansion in financial institutions, private equity, technology and oil and gas, across three key practices (M&A, capital markets and disputes).

While growth has been impressive at White & Case over the past decade, it does nevertheless lag behind Latham & Watkins and now Kirkland & Ellis in terms of profitability and turnover. Latham, which broke the $2bn barrier in 2008, has always been ahead of White & Case but managed to pass $3bn in 2017. Kirkland too has surged past White & Case in recent years, while average profit per equity partner at Kirkland is now well over $4m compared to White & Case’s $2.4m.