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15 April 2020

Husch Blackwell elects firm's first female chairperson

Catherine Hanaway, former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, will replace outgoing chair Greg Smith

By Ben Edwards

Portrait of Catherine Hanaway

Catherine Hanaway speaks at an Indiana Governor Mike Pence rally in Chesterfield, Missouri. September 2016 Shutterstock

US top 200 law firm Husch Blackwell has named former US attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Catherine Hanaway as its next chairperson, the first woman to be elected to the role.

St. Louis-based Hanaway will succeed current chair Greg Smith, whose term expires at the end of March next year. Hanaway has been at Husch since 2013 and helped set up and head the firm’s government solutions group, as well as leading its litigation teams on high-profile commercial cases and regulatory enforcement matters.

Paul Eberle, Husch Blackwell’s CEO, said: “I have long admired the strengths Catherine has exhibited throughout her career— grace under pressure, teamwork, and the ability to block out distractions in order to stay focused on goals. She is eminently qualified and uniquely prepared to serve our law firm as chairperson.”

The firm said Smith — who was also previously the firm’s CEO and managing partner before being elected chairman in 2018 — will resume his role in the firm’s real estate practice, advising developers and other related companies on major real estate projects throughout the Midwest.

Smith said: “Catherine has a proven track record in heading up large, complex organisations. She is excellent at articulating goals and then executing on them, and I am confident that I am leaving this key position in very capable hands.”

As well as her time as the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Eastern District of Missouri — overseeing more than 4,000 criminal, affirmative and defensive civil cases — she was also the only woman Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.  

She also ran to be the Republican candidate in the 2016 Missouri gubernatorial race.

Hanaway said: “It is my great privilege to serve as Husch Blackwell’s next chair. Following on the tremendous work on my predecessor, we will continue to build on the things that have made our law firm successful: a dedication to putting our clients first, to gaining expertise in our industries of focus, and to maintaining a culture of collaboration, inclusion and professional excellence.”

In January, San Francisco-based law firm Hanson Bridgett, which has won plaudits for its high representation of women lawyers, appointed its first-ever female managing partner, Kristina Lawson

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CMS and Proskauer confirm women in top leadership positions — Penelope Warne to serve second term as CMS senior partner as Daryn Grossman becomes Proskauer's second-ever managing partner

Allen & Overy's partners opt for continuity as they vote in new leadership — Magic circle firm votes in new managing partner but sticks with Wim Dejonghe for top role

Hogan Lovells votes in Asia head Zaldivar as new CEO — Venezuelan partner is chosen as international firm's next leader

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