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Peter Kalis, Chair of K&L Gates, to Step Down (UPDATED)

Sept. 6, 2016, 2:55 PM

Peter Kalis will step down as chair and global managing partner of K&L Gates, the firm announced on Tuesday.

“In early July, I informed our Management Committee that I would not be a candidate for another term as head of the firm,” wrote Kalis, in a statement.

“It has been an honor to serve the only law firm I have called home, and I look forward not only to concluding a strong 2016 but also to seeing my successors take the firm to greater heights in years to come.”

His current term as chair and managing partner ends in February 2017.

Kalis, who has served as the firm’s leader since 1997, has been credited for transforming K&L Gates from a Pittsburgh firm into an international one with 2,000 lawyers across five continents through a series of mergers and lateral hires.

In 2013, he made headlines when revealing the firm’s annual financial results in detail on its Web site for all to see, in a push for financial transparency after the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf was precipitated by secrecy around guaranteed, multi-million dollar pay packages and heavy debt.

The leadership transition came as a surprise to former firm partners at K&L Gates. It wasn’t openly discussed at the firm’s Florida partner retreat this spring and partners who left the firm earlier this year were in the dark about any succession discussion.

“Kalis for the firm, is like the Rock of Gibraltar,” said one former firm partner. “For that not to be there would seem very, very different for me, and I’m sure for my former colleagues it’s an extraordinary event.”

The news came after the firm saw partners depart for Mayer Brown, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, and Venable, and internal controversy festered over payments to lateral partner hires. Perhaps most notably, Jeff Randall, an intellectual property partner who joined the firm from Paul Hastings in 2015, was brought on to earn roughly $5 million, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

Another high profile lateral the firm brought on board, John Pierce who joined from Latham & Watkins in January, left the firm after five months for an in-house position at the venture capital fund SGVC. He was a global practice area leader for litigation.

Requests for comment placed with Pierce and Randall weren’t returned.

So far, K&L Gates has stayed silent beyond its press release. The firm declined a request for an interview with Kalis.

The news of Kalis stepping down came after its revenue fell in 2015 by 7 percent to $1 billion, and its profits per partner increased by almost 5 percent to $870,000, according to The American Lawyer.

K&L Gates’ management committee issued a joint statement complimenting Kalis on his tenure.

“The firm is well-positioned for a smooth transition and to build on these values and on its current foundation, and to continue to serve clients seamlessly and efficiently into the future.”

Have anything more on the transition? Email us at BigLawBusiness@bna.com.