Business & Practice

Bruce Springsteens of Law? That’s What This Big Firm Wants to Be

Sept. 16, 2016, 4:22 PM

Miami lawyer Ira Coleman has a vision for McDermott Will & Emery, the big law firm he was just elected to chair: “We want to be the Bruce Springsteens of law.”

Let him explain for a minute: Coleman had this epiphany when attending a Bruce Springsteen concert in Philadelphia this February at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We went backstage while he set up and hung out,” recalled Coleman, who watched the musician practice riffing out with his band members, including Jake Clemons on the saxophone and drummer Max Weinberg.

“I walk into Bruce playing Jungle Land, playing acoustic,” said Coleman. “He’s like, ‘Max, you have to come in heavier,’ and he plays more and is like, ‘Jake, brighter, harder...’ and then it hits me. Bruce — I think he’s 66 years old, he’s been playing rock and roll music for 50 years, he’s doing this tour worth hundreds of millions of dollars — why is he practicing so hard before he does a four-hour show? He wants to get better every day. He has a passion for it. And that’s what we do — that’s what makes us great. We don’t rest on our laurels, we don’t coast. We want to practice every day and be the best we can.”

We can hear the chorus from here:Oh, tramps like us, baby you were born to lawyerrrrr.

Coleman was elected as chair of McDermott on Thursday replacing outgoing co-chairs Jeff Stone and Peter Sacripanti, who announced they would step down after guiding the firm for eight years. Coleman will begin on Jan. 1, at which point he’s gonna have to prove it all night.

Maybe we buried the lede, but Coleman also, in our interview Thursday evening, said that he wasn’t against a merger with another law firm. Boom! Consultants, start licking your chops. But then again, there’s probably only a handful of law firms out there by now that aren’t up for discussions of some sort. I mean, what if Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes merged with the E Street band? Just imagine...

“Everything’s always on the table,” said Coleman, declining to discuss any firm names. “We are very excited about where we are, but if there’s a great group that works out for us, location-wise and service-wise, we would certainly talk with them.”

Coleman was elected by management committee vote on Thursday after four other candidates for the chair role presented the committee with their ideas about the direction of the firm in a New York conference room. Coleman declined to share specifics about his own presentation but said he and the other four remain friends.

Coleman said: “We’re going to incorporate everybody’s ideas because I want to get their feelings, and the partnership’s feelings and the chairs’ feelings...”


If McDermott is going to be the Bruce Springsteens of law, which firm is the Rolling Stones of law? Beatles? Coldplay? U2?... Radiohead?


Let us know at BigLawBusiness@bna.com .


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