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Troutman Sanders Chairman To Retire

After 40 years with Troutman Sanders, chairman Bob Webb Jr. is retiring on Dec. 31. He's chaired the firm for the past nine years, following 18 years as managing partner. Yesterday, he spoke with us about his proudest accomplishments, what makes a successful firm leader and his expectations for the firm. (And, of course, his retirement plans.)


"We're having our best year ever—that's a great time to go out," Bob tells us. He's proud of Troutman growing significantly while maintaining its culture: he oversaw the firm's expansion from 165 lawyers in one office, to more than 650 in 16 offices worldwide. He's also proud of the transition to a new generation of leaders that he's led over the past four years. (He started thinking about a transition to younger leadership after successfully leading the firm through the recession and seeing it come out strong.)

Look for offices opening around Texas next, to match with Troutman's strengths in energy, financial services litigation, IP, real estate, and legislative lobbying.


What does it take to be a good law firm leader? Bob tells us there are three key qualities: work ethic; empathy and support for people working at the firm; and a vision for where the firm needs to go and what it needs to look like.

He joined Troutman as an associate in '75 and became partner in six years; since then he's been lead litigation counsel for clients including CNN, TNT, the Atlanta Braves and TBS. Bob's greatest mentor from a management standpoint was late name partner Carl Sanders, the former governor of Georgia. He says his advice for young lawyers is the same as it's ever been: Work hard. Always work harder than your opponents across the table, and harder than anyone within your organization.

Now that he's retiring, Bob gets a break from those decades of hard work. He plans to relax and spend time with his three grandchildren, who are 8, 5 and 4. Replacing Bob as firm chairman will be Steve Lewis, left.


Steve takes over as chair on Jan. 1. He's been the firm's managing partner since 2011, and is only the second person in the firm's 118-year history to hold that position. (We snapped Steve, right, at the ABA business law section's 2013 spring meeting, where he accepted an award on Troutman's behalf.) He joined the firm in '91, was named partner in '99, and was elected to the executive committee in '03. A former chair of the firm's corporate law practice, he specializes in M&A, joint ventures and other transactional matters.