21 Sep 2021

Squire Patton Boggs names next global managing partner, launches DEI office

Michele Connell is set to take over the top job from Frederick Nance, who will be tasked with leading the US firm's new DEI office

Frederick Nance and Michele Connell

Squire Patton Boggs has named Michele Connell as global managing partner of the firm’s US LLP, succeeding Frederick Nance, who has held the role since 2016. 

The move sees Nance remain part of the firm’s executive leadership group while heading up Squire’s newly created office of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which will help the firm incorporate DEI principles into its strategy and management decisions going forward. 

Connell and Nance will serve as co-global managing partners for the duration of 2022 ‘for transition purposes’ after Connell’s promotion goes into effect in January, the firm said. 

Connell has been with Squire for nearly two decades, most recently as managing partner of the firm’s Cleveland headquarters, and is a recognised international M&A specialist with a particular focus on China and Brazil. She also advises public and private companies and their boards of directors on shareholder activism, corporate governance practices and securities compliance matters. 

She has led Squire’s taskforce dedicated to recruitment, retention and advancement of women lawyers since 2019 and, in addition to her work within the firm, serves on the boards of directors of a number of non-profit organisations focused on advancing women in the legal profession, including her involvement with DirectWomen, an organisation dedicated to increasing the representation of women attorneys on corporate boards. 

Before embarking on her legal career, she served as a diplomat for the US Department of State, where she served in the US embassies in Poland and Honduras. 

“Squire Patton Boggs has been at the forefront of the legal profession – strategically executing a vision of international growth and niche expertise over the years,” Connell said. “I could not be prouder of the global firm we have built and the direction in which we are heading.”

As global managing partner of Squire’s US business, Connell will oversee the operations of 34 of the firm's 45 international offices. 

Nance, who focuses his practice on sports and entertainment law as well as commercial litigation and public-private partnerships, has been with the firm since 1978, according to his Linkedin profile

Mark Ruehlmann, the firm’s chair and global chief executive officer, said Nance’s appointment as leader of the DEI office assures that the DEI function “has a seat at the table at the highest level of our firm and remains embedded in our culture and operations.” 

“It is with the deepest sense of respect and gratitude that I thank Fred for his steadfast leadership as global managing partner during a period of both exciting growth for our firm and challenge in the world,” Ruehlmann added. 

Squire has joined a number of other US and UK firms that have recently appointed one of their women partners to a top leadership role, including Sidley Austin and Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright

Earlier this year, Squire also appointed Washington DC-based partner Alethia Nancoo to its global board, making her the first African-American woman to be named to the global board since the firm’s inception. Following Nancoo’s appointment, more than half of the 12 board members were considered lawyers from diverse backgrounds, the firm said at the time.