New Nixon Peabody Leader; Cooley, Winston Lure Partners; Kasowitz Unleashed
Washington Wrap is a weekly roundup of Big Law hires and other Washington, D.C., legal industry news. Read the previous edition here. Send tips and lateral moves to Katelyn Polantz at email@example.com.
Colette Dafoe has a lot on her hands these days. The 37-year-old real estate transactions partner stepped up to become managing partner of Nixon Peabody’s Washington office at the beginning of July. And she happens to be seven months pregnant.
Defoe said she got the promotion before she knew she’d need to take maternity leave. “I was a little curious what the reception would be to that,” she said.
Still, “When I called up [Nixon Peabody CEO] Andrew Glincher to tell him I was not done having kids and was due in September, he couldn’t have been more congratulatory,” she said.
While she plans a flexible schedule once she has the baby (her second child), Dafoe has jumped full-time into her new role at the firm.
About two weeks ago, Dafoe held a strategic planning meeting with Nixon Peabody’s 40 Washington partners.
Jeffrey Lesk, the outgoing office managing partner, was in attendance. “He’s fabulous. I have very big shoes to fill,” Dafoe said of her colleague, who led the office for seven years and was a frequent public commentator on the D.C. legal industry. The firm says Lesk will return to his tax credit finance practice and will continue to implement the office’s solar power initiative, which put solar panels on the firm’s Washington office roof and returns the energy they collect to the community.
Still, Dafoe identified ways she’d like to adjust Lesk’s approach. She’s encouraging more partner engagement in the office, she said.
Dafoe, a real estate lawyer, would like to elevate that practice in D.C. by making it better known and more expansive—a “bigger bench,” she said. The real estate group currently has 19 practitioners based in Washington and is focused largely in the niche areas of tax credit finance and affordable housing.
“My theme is ‘Do more dirt in D.C.,’” she said. “D.C. attorneys can be a dime a dozen. We want to stick out not just as a national firm but internationally. There’s a crane on every corner in D.C.”
Dafoe also is focused on improving the office’s diversity statistics. The firm says about 15 percent of its associates are African-American, 7 percent are Asian-American, 4 percent are Hispanic and 11 percent identify as LGBT. Among partners in D.C., the figures are 5 percent African-American, 5 percent Hispanic, 7 percent LGBT and zero Asian-Americans, Nixon Peabody said.
“The D.C. office is already a little bit ahead of the other offices in the firm” in its diversity, she said. But “we’re poised to be an example. I want to really be able to brag about it.”
Dafoe said she’s already worked on diversity issues as part of her time on the firm’s recruiting committee and professional personnel committees.
This will be her first time in firm management.
Source: Law Journal