Dechert names successors to chair Levander as it rings in new global leadership team

Corporate partners David Forti and Mark Thierfelder to serve as co-chairs; US firm also retires CEO role and announces first global managing partners

(l-r) Sabina Comis, Dave Forti, Mark Thierfelder and Vince Cohen Image courtesy of Dechert

Dechert has announced that two of its leading corporate lawyers will succeed chair Andy Levander as part of a wider leadership shake-up that will also see the firm replace the CEO role with joint global managing partners.

Partners David Forti and Mark Thierfelder will take over 1 July 2023 from Levander, who has served as chairman of the top 35 US law firm since 2011.

At the same time Henry Nassau, who has served as Dechert’s CEO since 2016, will step down, after which the firm will retire the role. 

Forti and Thierfelder lead two of Dechert’s biggest transactional practices and have a combined 18 years’ experience on the firm’s policy committee, which sets its direction. 

Forti, who is based in the firm’s hometown of Philadelphia, currently co-chairs its global finance and real estate practice while New York-based Thierfelder leads the firm’s corporate and securities group and its global private equity practice. 

As well as the new co-chairs, Dechert has tapped two other senior partners to serve as its inaugural global managing partners – tax partner Sabina Comis, co-managing partner of the firm’s Paris office, and Vincent Cohen, who leads its US white collar practice from Washington DC. 

Dechert said that as global co-managing partners the duo would work with its US and EMEA managing partners to help drive its global strategy and manage operations. They will also continue their current leadership roles and positions on the firm’s policy committee. 

“This new leadership team encapsulates Dechert’s core strengths in transactions, litigation and tax work across key global markets,” Levander said. “The team offers continuity for our clients and people, bringing a broad set of perspectives and a team-based approach to drive our business strategy and our culture.”

Since Levander took over as chairman Dechert has grown from around 750 lawyers and $671m in annual turnover to more than 1,000 lawyers generating revenue of $1.34bn. 

“Dechert has achieved tremendous success under Andy and Henry’s leadership, delivering strong and sustained strategic growth across our core practices and markets,” Thierfelder said. “They have also created a culture of innovation and inclusion that has made Dechert a great place to work.” 

Dechert said Levander and Nassau would continue practising and that the incoming leaders would also maintain their practices ‘to serve their clients and stay close to the market.’ 

Dechert’s leadership shake-up makes it the latest US law firm to transition to a co-leadership model. 

In May Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s co-founder and longstanding managing partner, John Quinn, stepped up to a new position as chairman to allow partners William Burck and Michael Carlinsky to step in as co-managing partners to help run the firm.

And in January Robert Giuffra Jr and Scott Miller took over as co-chairs of Sullivan & Cromwell from longstanding chair Joe Shenker. 

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