Reed Smith global managing partner Gregory Jordan leaves for PNC

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Gregory Jordan, the global managing partner at Reed Smith who during 13 years at the helm oversaw the law firm's aggressive expansion to 25 offices worldwide and more than $1 billion in annual revenues, is leaving to take the top legal job at PNC Financial Services Group.

The Downtown-based law firm Thursday said Alexander "Sandy" Thomas, 47, the global chair of Reed Smith's litigation department who is based in Washington, D.C., will take over as global managing partner for the firm of 1,800 attorneys effective immediately.

Mr. Thomas said he does not plan to relocate his home or family from northern Virginia to Pittsburgh, but he will maintain an office here. "I expect to be here frequently," he said in a telephone interview. "I appreciate how important Reed Smith is to Pittsburgh, and how important Pittsburgh is to Reed Smith."

The law firm, founded here in 1877, is the second largest in the city behind K&L Gates and has 275 attorneys in its Fifth Avenue offices as well as several hundred employees at a global customer center on Stanwix Street.

Based on annual gross revenues, Reed Smith was the 19th largest law firm in the U.S. last year, according to a ranking by trade publication American Lawyer. The firm's revenues totaled $1.01 billion, up 2 percent from 2011. K&L Gates was ranked 18th with revenues of $1.06 billion in 2012.

At PNC, a longtime client of Reed Smith's, Mr. Jordan, 54, will be executive vice president, general counsel and head of regulatory and government affairs. He will also be a member of the bank's executive committee and will oversee the PNC Foundation and corporate ethics. Mr. Jordan will report directly to William Demchak, PNC's chief executive.

He starts the new position on Oct. 15 and will replace Robert Hoyt, who is leaving to join London-based Barclays plc as group general counsel after holding the job at PNC for just over a year. Mr. Hoyt worked for PNC for several years prior as chief regulatory affairs officer.

Mr. Jordan said Mr. Demchak recruited him during a telephone call within the past month. "He told me he wanted me to take the position and wanted to talk to me about it and we had lunch. He was very direct, persistent and convincing."

Besides being an "exciting opportunity" for him to join PNC's leadership team, Mr. Jordan said the time was right to hand over the top job at the law firm to Mr. Thomas. "He's been in my sights for quite a few years" as a potential successor, Mr. Jordan said. "Part of it is feeling you want to leave when the firm is strong and on the rise. We are unquestionably that and we have that person [to lead it] in Sandy."

As global chair of Reed Smith's litigation department, Mr. Thomas oversaw 850 lawyers; he has been on the firm's executive committee since 2009.

He joined Reed Smith in 1999 as a result of the firm's merger with a Fairfax, Va., law firm, Hazel & Thomas. Prior to that, Mr. Thomas worked for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Mr. Thomas, who holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and a law degree from Washington and Lee University, is a specialist in antitrust law and commercial litigation and counts U.S. Steel among his biggest clients.

As the new managing partner at Reed Smith, he said, "My overriding goal is to build on our strength. We're a strong, stable firm. We have a solid foundation and my objective is to build on that foundation and keep Reed Smith going in the same direction."

When Mr. Jordan, a Wheeling, W.Va. native, joined the firm fresh out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1984, Reed Smith had a storied history in its hometown, where it had provided legal counsel to major corporations such as H.J. Heinz, U.S. Steel, Mellon Bank, PNC and PPG Industries.

But back then it was still a regional firm with its only satellite offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Much of its growth since has been driven by mergers with major, well-established firms in London and California, in addition to establishing its own offices in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

"The legal industry has changed a lot ... and there's no question the economy continues to be increasingly global," said Mr. Jordan, who spent much of his career in recent years traveling around the world as the firm swelled to 3,500 employees including lawyers and staff.

Asked how he feels transitioning from his role at the top of Reed Smith to part of a team of executives at PNC, he said, "I feel great about it."

region - legalnews

Joyce Gannon: or 412-263-1580. First Published October 3, 2013 8:00 PM


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