25 Apr 2022

Debevoise names successor to veteran presiding partner Michael Blair

Peter Furci to take over in July ahead of Blair’s retirement, firm also names next deputy presiding partner

Nicole Mesard and Peter Furci Image courtesy of Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton has named the co-chair of its tax practice as the successor to veteran presiding partner Michael Blair. 

Peter Furci will take over as head of the New York-based firm in July ahead of Blair’s retirement at the end of this year. Blair, who has served as presiding partner since 2011, has reached Debevoise’s mandatory retirement age. 

Meantime the firm has named real estate partner Nicole Mesard as its next deputy presiding partner. She will succeed Bruce Yanett, who will continue as chair of the white collar and regulatory defence practice. Mary Jo White will continue as Debevoise’s senior chair. 

Furci and Mesard, both of whom are based in New York, bring a combined two decades of firm management experience to their new roles. 

Furci joined Debevoise in 1995 at the start of his legal career, making partner in 2003. He advises private equity and corporate clients on M&A transactions and investment fund formation and as well as co-chairing the firm’s tax practice is on the executive committee of the New York State Bar Association tax section. He is also a partner ally of Debevoise’s Latin affinity group. 

Furci said he was “honoured” to lead Debevoise, adding: “With gratitude to Michael and Bruce for their exemplary leadership and reaffirmation of our values in an increasingly competitive environment, I look forward to working closely with Nicole to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.”

Mesard joined Debevoise in 2001, making partner seven years later, and currently serves as deputy chair of the firm’s corporate department and chair of its hiring committee. Her practice includes acquisitions and sales, financings, joint ventures, secondaries and restructurings.

Blair said the duo “have made significant contributions to our clients as exceptional lawyers and to our firm community through their many leadership roles,” adding that they have “helped the firm focus on attracting and retaining exceptional talent.”

Blair has overseen a period of significant expansion at Debevoise during his 11 years at the top, with the firm saying that during that time it has doubled its annual revenue and increased its net income by more than 150%. The firm’s turnover hit $1.33bn in 2021, an increase of 8.5% from the year before, as profits per equity partner soared above $5m according to Law.com

In line with the widespread trend of law firms boosting their ESG offering in the face of growing client demand, last December the firm hired sustainability expert Ulysses Smith as its first senior ESG adviser in New York

Last year also saw the firm relocate 14 lawyers to launch a tech and private equity-focused office in San Francisco, with the firm adding veteran trial lawyer John Neukom from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom last month to bolster the office’s IP litigation group. 

The San Francisco opeing followed the firm launching in Luxembourg in 2020, when it hired Allen & Overy counsel Christopher Dortschy to set up an office there targeting private equity funds work.

 

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