The partners of Buckhead-based Am Law 200 law firm Morris, Manning & Martin LLP have unanimously chosen Simon Malko as the firm’s new managing partner. Jan. 1, Malko will succeed the firm’s current managing partner, Louise Wells. He will work closely with Wells until her planned retirement at the end of this year.
Malko is the third managing partner in the firm’s 42-year history. At 46, he is also the youngest. Malko currently serves as the chair of the firm’s litigation practice. He joined the firm in 2002 and became a partner just three years later. He has been involved in firm management for many years and currently serves as the firm’s general counsel and a member of its executive committee. He began his legal career in New York.
“The partners recently developed a strategic plan to ensure that we remain at the top of the legal market,” Wells said in a news release. “Simon is the right person to help us achieve our goals. While developing his reputation as a talented litigator, he consistently demonstrated a deep loyalty and devotion to the firm. His leadership will move the firm forward into the next chapter of our success.”
Malko first became interested in the job when he saw his law partners’ enthusiasm for planning for the firm’s future. His goals include implementing that plan and continuing to help the firm further its strong growth – particularly through adding lateral partners – while retaining its culture.
“One of our core values is that senior attorneys take a personal interest in providing opportunities and assistance for younger attorneys to develop and succeed,” Malko said in a news release. “I have been a beneficiary of that culture and I am committed to maintaining our identity, even as we continue our strategic growth. I am very excited to lead the firm to the next level.”
Malko added he will also carry on the founders’ vision of giving clients personalized attention. “The key to our most successful client relationships has always been to understand the client’s business and be proactive in helping them plan for the future,” he said.
Wells’ retirement marks the transition to new leadership while carrying on significant successes. She became the firm’s managing partner in 2009, during the Great Recession, and her energy and vision helped the firm emerge from the economic decline stronger than ever. Over the last nine years, she led the firm to substantial growth. During her two terms, it:
o became not just an Am Law 200 firm – but rose 25 spots to No. 175
o generated revenue growth of more than 62 percent
o grew from 130 attorneys to 202 – a 55 percent increase
o increased the Washington office from three attorneys to almost three dozen
o gave younger attorneys a voice in leadership by establishing the 2020 committee
o established the retention, recruiting and training committee to help associates reach their potential and see a path to partnership
o revived MMMPACT, the firm’s corporate social responsibility initiative, which emphasizes diversity, civic involvement, charitable giving and other goals
o led the firm in pursuing certification under both the Mansfield Rule – which encourages firms to consider at least 30 percent of women and/or attorneys of color for key positions – and Mansfield 2.0, which expands the guidelines to include LGBTQ+ attorneys and staff
“Everyone at MMM is grateful to Louise for her vision, leadership and character,” Malko said. “On a personal level, she has been an incredible mentor and friend to me. She has given me opportunities to succeed, and handing over this role with the firm in such a strong position for the future is just another example of that.”
He also credits the firm’s founder, Sonny Morris. “Our culture has been the foundation of the firm since its inception, thanks to Sonny’s leadership,” Malko said. “He has always been the first to welcome new ideas, technologies and innovation, and led the way for young leaders to progress.”
The announcement ends a thoughtful and deliberate process, which illustrates the firm’s culture of decision-making by consensus. A nomination committee, formed several months ago, solicited and analyzed input from the partners and senior staff before interviewing candidates. The committee unanimously recommended Malko for the job. July 12, the partnership voted – again, unanimously – to accept that recommendation.