K&L Gates picks two partners to succeed long-serving chief Kalis

Michael S. Caccese and James R. Segerdahl

K&L Gates has selected two lawyers to succeed chair and global managing partner Peter Kalis, who is stepping down early next year after two decades as leader of the firm.

Michael Caccese (pictured above left), who heads the firm’s investment management practice, will become non-executive chair, while long-serving general counsel James Segerdahl (pictured above right) will be global managing partner. The decision follows two months of deliberations involving the firm’s 75-partner global management committee.

Caccese and Segerdahl, whose four-year terms begin in February, were selected in a unanimous vote, the firm said. They are both close confidants of Kalis and are seen as “stability” candidates within the firm.

During Kalis’s five consecutive terms as leader, he steered the firm from a relatively sleepy Pittsburgh-based regional player into a global powerhouse on five continents, with 46 offices around the world.

Caccese currently holds the position of vice-chair for practice management, which was created last year in part to boost productivity. He served in both in-house and governmental capacities prior to joining K&L Gates’ Boston office in 2001. A rainmaker in Kalis’s mould, he is credited with building that 113-lawyer office as well as its 145-lawyer investment funds practice, one of the firm’s most successful.

Segerdahl joined K&L Gates’ Pittsburgh office in 1987 directly out of law school and is a co-founder of its insurance coverage practice. As a general counsel and, since 2013, a vice-chair, he is popular within the firm, former partners said – a factor that will help him in the more inward-facing, day-to-day role of chief executive officer and global managing partner.

The selection of two partners to lead the firm suggests that Kalis’s role had grown too large for one person to fill. “Mike Caccese and I have enormous shoes to fill in succeeding Pete Kalis,” Segerdahl said in a statement.

The pair’s initial challenges will be to stem departures, which have picked up in the past year, and to lift global profitability.

Since 2008, as recounted this spring in a profile in The American Lawyer, revenue per lawyer has drifted from $620,000 to $575,000 in 2015, leaving the firm near the bottom of the Am Law 100 on that metric. During the same time, average profits per partner (PPP) have been flat, varying little from $855,000 at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007. In 2015, PPP was $870,000, up 4.8% from the previous year, but a drop of 16.65 in equity partner headcount was largely responsible.

The firm grossed $1.065bn last year, ranking it 24th in total revenues, according to the Am Law 100.