Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, fresh off a year that saw the firm cross the $2 billion mark in revenue for the first time, announced that longtime firm chair Bill Dougherty is stepping down, to be succeeded by banking and finance partner Alden Millard, effective Monday.
Millard, who has spent his entire legal career at Simpson Thacher after joining the firm as a summer associate in 1995, served for 10 years on the firm’s executive committee. Additionally, he served a three-year term as one of the firm’s administrative partners responsible for day-to-day operations at the firm.
“I have been fortunate to hold a number of leadership roles over the years and it has given me a good understanding of what is required for the job,” Millard said. “I have always loved the people side of the business and I’m excited to meet the responsibilities and challenges of the role moving forward.
Millard currently serves on the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee as well as on its women’s committee.
Outgoing chair Dougherty said Millard exemplifies the “legal expertise, outstanding client service and creative and collaborative culture” that the firm values.
“A strategic lawyer and trusted adviser, Alden embodies those qualities and will be a tremendous leader of the firm and a major asset to our clients in his new role,” Dougherty said in a statement.
During Dougherty’s tenure, the firm grew from about $1.13 billion in revenue reported for fiscal 2013 to $2.22 billion for fiscal 2021. The firm’s head count moved from 835 attorneys to 1,163 over that same period.
The last few years have been particularly good for the firm from a financial perspective. Simpson’s profits per equity partner jumped from $3.5 million in fiscal 2017 to $5.98 million in fiscal 2021.
“It has been an honor to have served as chair of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, and I am very pleased to pass the torch to such a highly esteemed colleague,” Dougherty said in a statement.
Millard said the timing of the change, while not ingrained in any formal way at the firm, follows precedent, with the previous three chairs all having served around eight to 10 years before passing the mantle.
“They all roughly served the same amount of time in that role, so this is natural timing,” Millard said.
Millard said that his goal was to “build upon Bill’s legacy” and the strong foundations the firm has, with no major pivots in strategy or focus on the docket at this time.
“We will focus on our capability to serve our long-term, institutional clients as well as new clients,” he said. “It is important to me that we continue to invest in our talent, which is the true source of our strength.”
Millard said that while the firm does has expansion aspirations, it has not traditionally “grown for growth’s sake” and that he intends to continue that trend.
At Simpson, the chair election is disassociated from other leadership changes, something the firm leans into for continuity at the top.
“Bill and I have worked together for a long time, and we both worked alongside the wonderful partners and professionals in other firm leadership positions,” he said. “We have a history of stability at the top and are going to continue to work that way.”
Dougherty will remain at the firm, and Millard said he expects to seek counsel from him when appropriate.
“Bill is a great strategic thinker and has a deep devotion to Simpson Thacher and the people that work here,” Millard said. “He has been a mentor and a friend and I will continue to consult with him and occasionally lean on him.”
Lynn Neuner, now the co-head of the firm’s litigation department and a member of its executive committee, said she believes Millard is the right person for the job.
“Alden is an outstanding leader,” she said in a statement. “Having served alongside him on the executive committee and as an administrative partner, I have witnessed his skill in orchestrating our formidable legal talent to anticipate and meet the complex and evolving needs of our clients. Alden is smart, pragmatic, collegial and very effective.”
Millard, whose duties as chair officially start today, said he was ready to get to work.
“From my perspective, I’m extremely excited about the role and I and everyone else here owe a debt of gratitude to Bill,” he said. “He has been a great leader.”