Peter M. Ellis, global chair of Reed Smith’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department, participated in a Q&A for The American Lawyer’s Litigation Leaders series. Below is an excerpt of the article. Below is an excerpt of the article, followed by a PDF of the full interview.
Welcome to another edition of our Litigation Leaders series, featuring the litigation practice leaders of the biggest firms in the country.
Meet Peter Ellis, who heads the 1,000-plus lawyer litigation group at Reed Smith. Based in Chicago, Ellis’s own practice covers the gamut of complex commercial and business litigation. He advises national and multinational clients in areas including franchise, licensing and distribution, product liability, retail, unfair competition, trademark, trade secrets, and defense against consumer-related claims.
Lit Daily: Tell us a little about yourself—beyond what’s in your law firm bio.
Peter Ellis: I grew up in a small college town in southwestern Ohio where my parents, both retired educators, instilled fantastic, life-long values, namely: honesty, hard work, friendship, careful listening and the pursuit of fairness. I have taken these lessons with me through every stage of my education and legal career. These life values have informed and helped develop my leadership style and how I define success. As the legal industry wrestles with its role in leading through a global pandemic, as well as racial, economic and political uncertainties, I rely heavily on the fundamentals that I gained in my formative years. In particular, having lived in a very strange work-from-home environment for most of 2020, witnessing events and injustices that have fundamentally changed and highlighted how individuals, businesses (including law firms) and communities operate, I am reminded of the importance of leadership, consistency of excellence and setting high expectations for those within our circle of influence. With this in mind, I am hopeful that the current momentum toward racial equity and inclusion creates real change in the legal industry and in the communities where we live and work. I certainly know that at Reed Smith we are viewing this as a watershed moment on which we will look back and ask ourselves what we did in response to the current demands for change—and I am proud that we will be able to answer in the affirmative that we took real steps to do our part, although there is still much work to do.
How big is your litigation department and where are most of your litigators concentrated geographically?
Reed Smith’s litigation department has 1,025 litigators, with approximately two-thirds based in the U.S. and the rest in Europe, the Middle East and Asia; so it is truly global in scope. When it comes to fielding skilled litigation teams, we have the deep bench to mobilize the right talent, no matter where our clients’ disputes arise. The firm’s five core industry groups, Financial Services, Healthcare/Life Sciences, Entertainment & Media, Energy & Natural Resources, and Transportation, all include incredible litigators, as well as top-tier regulatory and transactional lawyers. Reed Smith has been recognized as an industry leader in these five industry sectors since the firm’s founding more than 140 years ago, and through many international and strategic combinations and mergers. In addition to our industry groups, clients are supported by dozens of marquee practices where Reed Smith is known as a “go-to” firm, such as intellectual property, international arbitration, insurance recovery, privacy & data security, product liability, labor & employment, state tax, and technology & innovation, to name a few.