NEW YORK (June 16, 2008) – Morrison & Foerster announced a transition in leadership in its 200-attorney New York office.
Karen Hagberg, who has served since 2003 as managing partner of the thriving New York office, is stepping down to concentrate full-time on her litigation practice. Ms. Hagberg focuses on intellectual property and antitrust matters and is currently serving as lead trial attorney in a significant patent case before the Eastern District of Texas.
Succeeding her is Charles Kerr, a senior litigator who last year ended a seven-year term as New York litigation chair. Mr. Kerr, known as Chet, is one of the original members of the office dating from 1987, when Morrison & Foerster established a presence in New York with the acquisition of commercial litigation boutique Parker Auspitz Neesemann & Delehanty. At the time, the New York office had approximately two dozen attorneys.
Mr. Kerr will remain active in his litigation practice and identify priorities for continued expansion of the New York office. Regarding his initial objective in his new position, he commented, “Many of our New York practices are thriving – in large part due to Karen’s leadership. I feel my job is largely to keep our attorneys focused and work with practice leaders to identify priorities for expanding business and enhancing client service.”
He added that the New York office continues to consider major lateral opportunities to support growing practice disciplines – the office recently added a prominent five-attorney bankruptcy group as well as the former general counsel of the National Music Publishers’ Association. “A lot of great work originates in this office and we have terrific clients, which will help us continue to attract top legal talent and enhance the scope of services we provide.”
During Ms. Hagberg’s tenure, the office grew in both the number of attorneys as well as in practice development. The New York office now supports substantial practices in corporate finance and capital markets, as well as in real estate finance, bankruptcy, technology transactions, privacy, intellectual property, state and local tax, litigation and corporate investigations. Additionally, a prominent U.S.-based Japan practice is led by the New York office.
In 2006, firm chair Keith Wetmore became resident in New York. “We’re grateful to Karen for her strengthening of the New York office and her fine leadership,” Mr. Wetmore said. “New York has become a critical anchor for the firm, not only as home to key financial and litigation practices, but as a gateway to the corporate and financial work across our offices in Europe and Asia.
“Chet has played a prominent leadership role in New York for the past 21 years,” Mr. Wetmore continued. “He is universally respected, knows the market well, and understands our strengths as well as the issues we face as we expand our practices. I am certain that the firm will continue to advance significantly with Chet at the helm in New York.”
Ms. Hagberg welcomed Mr. Kerr’s new appointment. “I’ve been lucky to head the New York office during a most interesting period of growth, and the results have been extremely satisfying,” she said. “New York and the national economy are clearly in the midst of another challenging market – I’m confident in handing the reins over to Chet. He’s a strong motivator with a direct approach and consistently delivers effective results.”
Like Ms. Hagberg, Mr. Kerr will remain actively involved with his substantial trial caseload. He is leading a number of large commercial matters, including a series of closely-watched programming and contractual disputes on behalf of longtime Morrison & Foerster client EchoStar, which has concurrent cases proceeding against Cablevision, Fox News and the NFL Network. Additionally, he is representing Honeywell International in several matters involving the airline industry, and The Hartford in ongoing insurance coverage litigation.
“There’s a lot going on, that’s for sure – I love my trial work and am blessed to be working with some of the finest litigators in practice,” he said. “In the end, I will be challenged to accomplish half of what Karen has achieved during her five year tenure, and with the grace that she’s demonstrated.”
Both Mr. Kerr and Ms. Hagberg sit on Morrison & Foerster’s 19-member board of directors.
The New York office – which had 130 attorneys when Ms. Hagberg became managing partner five years ago – is now Morrison & Foerster’s second largest after San Francisco.