Undeniably, it is difficult to equate K&L Gates with Dewey for some, but the apparent exodus of 42 out of 170 attorneys in the law firm’s Chicago office earlier this year was looked upon as heralding change. However, the said exodus has made little dent on the working of the 2,000 lawyer firm, and for those who expected change, the re-election of Peter J. Kalis for the fifth consecutive term as chairman of K&L Gates has come as a spoiler.
The reappointment of Kalis comes in the wake of prophets of doom predicting a Dewey-like end for K&L Gates all over the media.
On Sept 18, Law 360 expressed that attorneys and partners “were fleeing K&L Gates LLP at an alarming rate” and the trend was expected to continue, “as attorneys increasingly lose faith in the firm’s leadership and strict compensation policies.” Law 360’s article was based on anonymous sources and the Crain’s Chicago Business reporting the number of attorneys in Chicago office of K&L Gates having shrunk to 128, as of last week, from 170 in mid-2011.
In response to the media reports, but without naming them, Kalis released a memo on Sept. 21 pointing out that despite a recent Wells Fargo survey describing the industry outlook for 2012 as “grim” for law firms, the profits of K&L Gates had increased 20 percent between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012. Also, according to the American Lawyer, the firm had grossed $1.06 billion in 2011. Kalis also drew attention to the fact that billings at the Chicago office were up by 10 percent through August 31 regardless of a reduced headcount.
Commenting on the group that departed from the Chicago office, Kalis said that the “corrosive effect of the disaffected has been externalized from the firm … Chicago is doing quite well, thank you.”
Kalis has been leading K&L Gates since 1997 and his new term, which has been done after consultations between the management committee and all of the firm’s 41 offices, is expected to run through February 2017.