On Thursday, San Francisco-based Morrison Foerster announced that Keith Wetmore would be stepping down after 12 years as chairman of the firm and Larren Nashelsky, the co-chair has been elected to succeed Wetmore. Nashelsky will assume leadership of the firm as its chairman from October 17. Though voting by partners on the appointment was open from late Wednesday, the election was uncontested.
Wetmore has been an exceptional leader for the firm and successfully steered the firm through the recession at a time when other competitors in San Francisco like Heller Ehrman, Thelen and Broebeck, and Phleger & Harrison had been forced to close down. Despite his obvious and exceptional leadership capabilities and talents, Wetmore has also been at the receiving end of the ire of so-called conservatives for being one of the few openly gay chairpersons in the legal industry.
Wetmore had already informed partners at the firm several months ago that he would not seek another term. He said, “It is tempting to use incumbency as leverage for retention, but that can lead to staying at the job for too long … I thought it was time for a new generation of leadership to stir things up a little bit.”
Wetmore will continue to be involved in the affairs of Morrison and Foerster under the title of chairman emeritus and would help the new chairman with firm business on an as-needed basis.
Nashelsky, would be the first chairman of the firm to begin his term based in New York. After his election as chairman of the firm, Wetmore had relocated to the West Coast from New York in 2000. Nashelsky’s current major clients include Residential Capital, Tricom, Carribbean Petroleum Corp and Paper International Inc.