Womble Bond Dickinson names successor to US chair and CEO Temple

Finance partner Merrick Benn to take over from veteran leader Betty Temple at the start of next year

Merrick Benn Image courtesy of Womble Bond Dickinson

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has announced finance partner Merrick Benn as its next US chair and CEO.

Benn will takeover at the start of next year from veteran leader Betty Temple, who oversaw the merger between US firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and UK-based Bond Dickinson that created WBD in 2017.

Benn will lead the firm’s management committee, which is responsible for domestic strategy, operations, profitability and structural organisation. He will also co-chair the firm’s global board alongside Paul Stewart, former head of the firm’s commercial disputes and regulatory team who took over as UK managing partner in 2022 from Jonathan Blair. Together they will oversee joint business development and inter-firm collaboration.  

Benn joined Womble Carlyle in 2009 from DLA Piper and was elected to WBD’s management committee in 2017, serving for three terms. He has also been appointed to the firm’s executive committee, named US vice chair and served as capital markets practice group leader and co-chair of the diversity committee.

“Womble achieved great success under Betty’s leadership and continues to be on a tremendous growth trajectory,” Benn said. “Our increasing prominence as a global law firm has attracted high-calibre talent and fuelled expansion into new markets, and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead Womble through its next chapter.”

Temple took over as chair of Womble Carlyle at the start of 2016 and has overseen its growth into an Am Law 100 firm with more than 1,000 lawyers across 32 offices, fuelled by a focus on selected sectors including energy and natural resources, global business, financial services, business litigation and IP. 

The firm reports that during her tenure it has increased gross revenue by 42% to $570.9m and revenue per lawyer by 30%. It has also expanded into many of the US’s largest legal markets – nine in as many years – including Boston, Denver, Houston, Nashville, New York and San Francisco.

“[Benn] has been deeply involved in every important decision we’ve made in recent years and has proven his dedication to Womble and our clients time and time again,” said Temple, who was the firm’s first woman chair and CEO.

Temple added: “I would also like to thank our attorneys and legal professionals for their service to the firm. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last nine years and look forward to navigating the firm through a successful transition.”

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