Washington-based sports attorney Doug Gibson will be Covington & Burling’s newest chair, replacing Tim Hester, who has served in the role for 12 years.
Gibson, a long-time member of the management committee, was elected through consensus by the firm’s partnership in the fall of 2018. He will begin a four-year term as chair on Jan. 1, leading the firm’s management committee in setting strategy and overseeing operations.
Outgoing chair Hester told Bloomberg Law the firm has spent the past year on the transition to make it as seamless as possible.
“I think there’s a balance between continuity and turnover and general change in leadership,” Hester said. “I had a good continuous run for a long time, but I also thought it was important for the future of the firm to have a generational transfer of leadership.”
Of Gibson, Hester said, “he’s got a fabulous temperament for the role, and very good strategic judgment, and exceptional decency in dealing with people. These are all critical elements of being an effective chair.”
Gibson has spent his legal career at Covington, aside from a stint as general counsel of Bacardi Limited. He joined Covington as a summer associate in 1989, was hired full time the following year, and then made partner in 1998. He has served on the firm’s management committee since 2012.
Gibson’s clients have included Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the U.S. Tennis Association, and the Chicago Cubs.
He told Bloomberg Law he plans to maintain a client practice, as is the “tradition of Covington chairs.”
Gibson said he doesn’t plan to change much about Hester’s strategy and vision for the firm, which have included a particular focus on collaboration, diversity, and growth.
Under Hester’s leadership, Covington opened eight new offices around the world and more than doubled in size.
“We think the scale of our practices is where we need at this point, so I don’t think we’ll need the level of growth we’ve had,” Gibson said. “But we will continue to evolve our practices to meet our clients needs.”
Gibson said he anticipates growing Covington’s New York and California offices, with a particular focus on corporate, class action and regulatory work.
After stepping down, Hester will become chair emeritus, focusing on the firm’s client relationships and international engagements. He will also continue his antitrust practice and maintain an active role in the firm’s pro bono work.