Ellis leads 1,000+ litigators from across the firm’s global platform. He also serves on the firm’s Executive Committee and Senior Management Team. He represents global companies, providing business counseling, advice on litigation strategy, and investigation oversight.
As office managing partner, Petersen oversees the implementation of local and firmwide initiatives and manages operations and personnel for the 250-person Chicago office. He is a corporate lawyer whose practice concentrates on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate finance, venture capital, and corporate/strategic counselling.
“Peter and Matt have contributed significantly to the growth and expansion of a number of critical firm initiatives, as well as programs to support underserved areas of Chicago,” said Doug Cameron, managing partner for the Americas. “They are shining examples of the firm’s commitment to the communities in which we live and work. We’re thrilled that Crain’s Chicago Business has recognized their professional achievements and contributions to the Chicago area.”
Through their leadership, the Chicago office recently launched a three-year partnership with Chicago First Fund and Tilden High School, which will provide financial and in-kind support to the school and its families.
Ellis was a driving force behind implementing programs to assist attorneys and staff to overcome challenges of the global pandemic and the subsequent return-to-office. He also spearheaded the firm’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, playing a key role in developing the Reed Smith Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) and serving on the task force that implements the program’s initiatives. Peter is committed to the firm’s concerted effort to increase the number of diverse lawyers across its global platform, while also increasing the percentage of diverse lawyers and staff in leadership positions firmwide.
In addition, Ellis champions new workplace wellness and well-being programs and he is also the Senior Management Team’s liaison to RSVets, the firm’s business inclusion group for veterans.
Ellis serves on the board of the Children First Fund and as a trustee of the Rush University Medical Center; he is a trustee and executive vice-chair of the Harris Theater for Music & Dance, and a member of The Economic Club of Chicago. In 2011, Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn Jr. appointed Ellis to chair the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a state agency dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice and ensuring the criminal justice system in Illinois is efficient, effective, and equitable. Ellis chaired the Authority until 2014.
Ellis also was a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and in the inaugural fellowship class of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.
Through Petersen’s leadership, the Chicago office has expanded its involvement with community-based programs, including My Block My Hood My City, in which lawyers and staff travel to neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago to provide services, including trash collection, cleanup, lawn service, gardening and minor repairs. The Chicago office is also actively involved in supporting Cradles to Crayons, and has contributed hundreds of items and volunteered numerous hours to support low-income families and children.
During the pandemic, Petersen implemented several events and activities to preserve office culture, and led the radical and abrupt transformations from fully in-office work, to fully remote work, to hybrid work. In recognition of the psychological and human impact of the pandemic, he organized a mental health session for Reed Smith Chicago attorneys and guests.
Previously, Petersen served in various firm leadership roles prior to becoming managing partner for the Chicago office. He served as vice chair of the firm’s business and finance department, vice practice group leader and practice group leader of the firm’s global corporate group, and he was a member of the firm’s Chicago pro bono committee for 20 years. As leader for the corporate practice group, he led a consolidation of the U.S., EMEA, and Asian corporate practices. Petersen also led the opening of the Reed Smith Dallas office.
A committed and dedicated mentor, Petersen has prioritized mentorship of diverse associates and recruitment of diverse candidates and has guided numerous attorneys from junior associate to equity partner. He also has served for several years as a mentor for children living in the Cabrini Green housing projects. Committed to community service, he and his family have been long-time supporters of the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.
Petersen is legal counsel and business advisor to the Friends of the Robert Crown Center, a nonprofit organized to raise private funds in support of the newly constructed Robert Crown Community Center, Turf Park, and Public Library. He worked closely with Friends leadership to negotiate a public-private partnership with the City of Evanston, funding the construction of a new Crown Center, which opened in early 2020.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions and regulatory matters. Our team of 3,000 people (including more than 1,700 lawyers) operate across 30 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to drive progress for our clients, for ourselves and for our communities.
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