Simpson Thacher & Bartlett announced yesterday that corporate partner William Dougherty has been named chairman of the 837-lawyer firm's executive committee, effective immediately. In taking over Simpson Thacher's top management post, Dougherty, 51, succeeds corporate partner Philip "Pete" Ruegger III, 63, who has led the firm since 2004. Ruegger said he plans to retire from full-time practice later this year after 39 years and move into an of counsel role with the firm.
Dougherty takes over as chair on the heels of a year that saw Simpson Thacher enjoy modest growth. Gross revenues rose 2 percent in 2012, to $982.5 million, according to The American Lawyer. Revenue per lawyer remained stable at $1.18 million, while profits per equity partner inched up slightly to $2.67 million.
Dougherty, who said he expects to continue practicing, joined the firm in 1986 after graduating from the University of Chicago Law School and was promoted to partner nine years later. A private equity and mergers and acquisitions specialist, he did stints in the Tokyo and London offices before returning to New York in 2002. Dougherty says his leadership role within the firm has "evolved" over time. Neither he nor Ruegger would discuss the mechanics of when and how Dougherty was chosen to become the new chair beyond saying the position is filled byand from withinthe firm's 14-person executive committee. Ruegger added that he informed his fellow partners in 2010 that he planned to retire this year.