Akerman LLP is moving its leadership to Chicago with the appointment of local attorney Scott A. Meyers as its new chairman and CEO.
Meyers, 53, has been practicing law in Chicago for 28 years and has been with Akerman since 2014, when he moved from Ulmer & Berne LLP to become the first managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office. In 2018, he became Akerman’s managing partner nationwide.
“This is an extraordinary law firm,” said Meyers. “I’m honored and humbled to serve in this role. This is a great firm and we have great people.”
Meyers was voted into the three-year term as chairman and CEO by the equity partners after the firm underwent a months-long election process to replace Miami-based outgoing chairman Andrew Smulian. Smulian served in the role for four consecutive terms.
The change in leadership coincides with the firm marking its 100th anniversary this year.
“In 2020, we reflect on Akerman’s 100 years of accomplishment,” said Meyers. “We’ve leveraged the deep and wide-ranging capabilities of our team to effect change for our clients and our communities delivering more than just victories, but also long-lasting results.”
Akerman was founded in Orlando, Fla., in 1920 and still maintains a strong presence throughout Florida. In addition to its 10 Florida locations, Akerman operates offices in Austin, Texas, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Madison, Wis., New Orleans, New York, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Tysons Corner, Va., Washington, D.C. and Winston-Salem, N.C., with more than 700 lawyers employed among the 25 offices. According to Meyers, relocating management is part of expanding the firm’s national image.
“Moving our leadership accomplishes two objectives,” Meyers said. “It allows us to expand our values to the rest of the country and helps align perception with objective reality. We want people to know we are a national firm with a strong presence in Florida, not a Florida firm with national offices.”
Meyers’s appointment as chairman and CEO is the most visible shift away from Florida the firm has made, though Meyers noted that the firm’s leadership has been “diffused” throughout its offices.
“We have members of leadership all over the country,” he said. “But when you have a 100-year-old firm with its management in the same state for so long, it makes it look like it’s just that state’s firm, so this is a very visible relocation that is still consistent with the philosophy we’ve had for decades.”
Meyers said he hopes to “continue our trajectory of client drive, smart growth.” This plan would include expanding existing offices and “examining new location options” while maintaining the firm’s unique culture.
“We want an environment where people are treated with respect personally and professionally,” Meyers said. “You see a lot of ubiquity in the big law model these days, and we want to continue to offer an alternative for our clients and attorneys.”
Since joining Akerman, Meyers has overseen the growth of the Chicago office from an eight-lawyer startup specializing in intellectual property, litigation and real estate to a 55-member group of attorneys representing 10 practice groups.
As the national managing partner, he also assisted in the launching of the firm’s offices in Atlanta and Winston-Salem and oversaw significant expansions in New York and Washington, D.C.
“I really developed an appreciation for how different Akerman is working on those expansions,” Meyers said. “We’re very focused on people. Not just getting the right people, but also integrating them, and retaining them. I think how long we keep employees speaks volumes to our platform’s success. We also plan on continuing our commitment to diversity and inclusion, to make sure our firm continues to reflect the makeup of our cities and the country.”
Akerman is known for its work in middle market mergers and acquisitions and complex disputes as well as financial services and real estate for business clients in the U.S. and Latin America.