Marshall Dennehey's Chairman and COO Retires; Peter S. Miller's Departure Ushers in New Era of Leadership
Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin announced today the June 30th retirement of Peter S. Miller, longtime Chief Operating Officer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee member, Director of the Workers' Compensation Department, and Managing Attorney of the Philadelphia office. His departure has created opportunities for five individuals -- one a non-lawyer -- to advance to senior management positions at the firm.
Miller stepped down as the firm's chairman on December 31, 2013, but continued to serve as the firm's COO and as a member of its Executive Committee through June 30. Effective yesterday, for the first time in the firm's history, a non-lawyer, Liz Brown, has become Chief Operating Officer of the 470+ attorney and top ten Philadelphia firm. Brown is the former director of the firm's IT Department and a longtime employee. Additionally, shareholder Niki T. Ingram, member of the Board of Directors and Assistant Director of the Workers' Compensation Department, has been elevated to the position of department director, making her the second woman in the firm's history to lead one of the firm's core departments.
Miller's departure springboards others to executive leadership as well. Christopher Dougherty, Executive Committee member and Director of the firm's Professional Liability Department, replaced Miller as Chairman of the Board of Directors on January 1 of this year. Miller's position on the three-person Executive Committee has been filled by shareholder G. Mark Thompson, a Senior Vice President of the firm, member of its Board of Directors and Regional Managing Attorney of the firm's four Florida offices. Thompson will relocate to Philadelphia in 2015 and will oversee all of the firm's regional offices. Butler Buchanan, III, hiring attorney and chair of the firm's Diversity Committee, has stepped into the role of Managing Attorney of the Philadelphia office.
According to Thomas A. Brophy, Marshall Dennehey's President & CEO, discussions about having a non-lawyer serve as COO have been ongoing for several years, since Miller announced his intention to retire. "We concluded a while ago that the change to a non-lawyer COO would allow more time for the Executive Committee to focus on strategy, attorney performance, and client issues," he said. "Gender was really not a consideration in the decision making process as we considered candidates for this position. Liz had the qualifications and high-level managerial experience we were looking for, which are necessary to be successful in managing the day-to-day business operations of the firm."
As assistant director of the 35-attorney Workers' Compensation Department and someone who has worked closely with Miller for the past 25 years, Ingram's transition to head of the department is also expected to be seamless. Ingram has risen to leadership since joining the firm in 1988, becoming a shareholder and serving in key roles, including chair of the firm's Human Relations Committee for ten years. She also developed and implemented a Workers' Compensation client development practice, and spearheads initiatives at the firm that promote the advancement of women.
Miller, who has served as Chairman of the firm's Board of Directors and COO since 2004, came to Marshall Dennehey in 1978 from the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the United States Army. Recognized for his sharp intellect, strategic lawyering skills and leadership abilities, he developed experience across all departments of the firm, including medical malpractice, employment practices litigation, premises and product liability and other casualty matters. In the 1990's he became the firm's first Director of the Casualty Department, and began to play a more active role in firm leadership and management decisions. He became Director of the Workers' Compensation Department in 2002.
"Pete's contributions as an attorney, department head and as a business executive have been crucial to the continued growth of this firm, and the fact that it will take essentially five people to replace him speaks volumes," said Brophy. "He leaves big shoes to fill, but, with much input from Pete himself, we're confident we've selected the right people to step in and lead us to the next level."