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Goodwin Taps Sullivan Cromwell Exec to Head Practice Management

Aug. 3, 2020, 10:02 AM

Goodwin Procter is bringing on a new chief practice management officer from Sullivan & Cromwell as it looks to maximize its strategy that merges the practice of law with the business of law.

Bonnie Ciaramella is joining in New York where she will oversee practice management across Goodwin’s business law and litigation departments.

Though the firm previously had two chief practice management officers, one working with its corporate group and the other supporting its litigation group, Ciaramella’s new streamlined role merges the two.

It also fits squarely within with Goodwin’s firmwide strategy of convergence across its practices, business units, and platforms to serve clients’ needs, said Michael Caplan, Goodwin’s chief operating officer.

For example, the firm’s private equity and technology businesses cut across its real estate, financial institutions, life sciences practices, he said.

“In the same way we are building lawyers that are converging through technology on the practice side of client development, we also wanted to create convergence with our professional staff,” Caplan said.

‘Firm of the Future’

Ciaramella has spent nearly 25 years as a senior adviser to leaders of top law firms.

“I think to be a part of that dialogue and to inform that dialogue with my own experiences as to what other firms have tried, what’s worked better, where clients have appreciated it more, where they’ve seen more value, that’s very exciting to me,” Ciaramella said of her move to Goodwin.

She spent eight years as director of business development at Dechert before joining Morgan Lewis & Bockius in 1999 as its chief marketing officer. She also was the chief executive officer of Ciaramella & Co., which advised top law firms on business planning and strategy.

In 2014, she joined Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson as chief of staff to firm Chairman David Greenwald. In 2018, she joined Sullivan & Cromwell as its global chief business development officer.

In her new role, Ciaramella will lead a team focusing on all areas of practice management, from attorney development, optimizing leverage and staffing models with clients, to growing the role of associates and implementation of the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The goal is to improve the service to clients though that may be bespoke to a particular client because each clients’ needs are a little bit different, Ciaramella said.

“But part of what we want to do is build collaboration and idea sharing across groups and across clients and try to learn from each of those and improve relationships with all of the clients,” she said.

Ciaramella will also work alongside Lee Garfinkle, Goodwin’s chief client development and relationship officer, as well as chief marketing officer Nancy Kostakos, and chief innovation officer Maureen Naughton.

The firm’s chief officers will work together covering all of Goodwin’s business units and geographies to support its lawyers and support client relationships.

Her role is key as the legal industry faces an unknown future in the wake of changes spurred by the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered offices and pushed law firms to rely more on technology.

“As we were thinking about our law firm of the future, to continue not only to grow revenue and profits, but to do it so the law firm of the future is the most innovative and fast-thinking firm out there we have to have people like Bonnie that can help us get there,” Caplan said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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