“I am honored by the partners’ confidence in my leadership,” Thomas said. “Reed Smith demonstrated strength and unity through the pandemic. Our lawyers and staff pulled together and provided exceptional service to our clients. We have a strong strategic plan to win in the market and I look forward to leading our great firm over the next four years.”
Thomas’s past two terms have been characterized by significant growth, progressive firmwide initiatives, and innovation on many fronts, all of which prioritize exceptional client service and the well-being of Reed Smith’s people. Highlights of the past four years have included the firm’s overall commitment to efficient and high value client service, racial equity and social justice, and wellness and mental health.
Leading the industry in innovative and high value client service, Reed Smith launched Gravity Stack, the firm’s technology subsidiary, supporting lawyers’ collaboration with clients and providing tech solutions for clients to more efficiently and effectively manage their data and challenging work processes. Additionally, the firm’s Client Value Team grew exponentially and managed millions of dollars of clients’ matters saving them both time and money, using sophisticated pricing, profitability and legal project management techniques. An Innovation Hours Program was implemented to provide up to 50 innovation hours toward billable hours targets. The firm also created a Legal Technology Associates Program and Legal Technology Summer associate positions to combine the practice of law with the use and development of tech solutions. And through the Now & Next Initiative that kicked off during the pandemic last spring, the firm developed numerous knowledge management projects designed to deliver services and novel solutions to clients, all developed in-house by lawyers and professional staff.
Other highlights include the launch of the firm’s annual Diversity Summit, drawing clients from around the world to discuss strategies for improving and sustaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Moreover, in response to the social unrest that occurred in 2020, Reed Smith created a Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) and a REAP Task Force to advance recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities for the firm’s Black lawyers and staff; identify pro bono and community engagement opportunities within the firm’s markets; and collaborate with clients to invest in Black lawyer talent. Also, the Business Inclusion Groups were expanded to include all staff, and the firm now provides 50 billable hours credit to all timekeepers for work done on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion projects.
To prosper its team of 3000, the firm launched Wellness Works, in 2018, to promote and support the well-being of all lawyers and staff, and provide year-round, month-by-month themed programming and benefits to enhance the physical, emotional and mental health of all Reed Smith personnel. Wellness Works was augmented with a Mental Health Task Force, created in 2020, that advises on mental health issues; that effort culminated in a #StopTheStigma campaign. Stigma has been recognized as one of the most significant barriers to seeking mental health and substance use help. To address the needs of working parents during the pandemic, in 2020 the firm launched a Family Initiative and further enhanced that program this month by launching a Family Network providing benefits and resources to families.
The firm has also made a considerable investment in support of the career development of associates through the Associate Life Initiative, an ongoing and evolving program designed to prepare early career lawyers for advancement, leadership and career success. Associate Life was launched in 2018, and a new wave of benefits were announced a year later that have a measurable impact on everyday law practice and personal lives, with programs such as Ramp-Up/Ramp-Down and True-Up.
The firm’s pro bono Human Rights Team developed a holistic approach to addressing the needs of victims of violence and torture. That same team was selected by the Canadian government as the primary implementing partner for its privately funded Refugee Resettlement project that is relocating refugees from the Middle East to Canada.
During Thomas’ tenure, the firm grew in key markets, fortifying its presence in Texas and expanding the capabilities of its five leading industry groups: Energy & Natural Resources, Entertainment & Media, Financial Industry, Life Sciences Health Industry (LSHI), and Transportation.
With a 15-lawyer expansion of the firm’s LSHI Group in 2018, Reed Smith opened in Austin. The following year, Reed Smith opened a Dallas office with 16 lawyers with a broad array of litigation and transactional practices; more than twice as many lawyers work there today. Together with the firm’s Houston office, more than 100 lawyers provide a full-service offering that supports clients across Texas and around the world. In 2020, the firm launched its 30th office, in Brussels, with a notable antitrust team to help clients navigate the complex regulatory environment in Europe.
In 2019, Reed Smith became the first global law firm to convert to an Alternative Business Structure, permitting the firm to provide services beyond traditional legal advice.
“We share a common goal at Reed Smith among the partners and our team of more than 3,000 people to be the preeminent global relationship law firm and the leading firm in client service,” Thomas said.