Willkie Announces Leadership Changes

December 17, 2020

Matthew Feldman to Become Joint Chairman Alongside Current Leader Thomas Cerabino; Steven Gartner to Retire

New York, NY (December 17, 2020) --- Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP announced today that partner Matthew Feldman will assume the role of joint Chairman of the firm at the start of the new year. He will serve alongside current leader Thomas Cerabino. This transition results from the upcoming retirement of Steven Gartner, who has spent his more than 35-year career at Willkie and has led the firm with Mr. Cerabino since 2010.

During the last decade, under Mr. Gartner’s and Mr. Cerabino’s leadership, Willkie expanded its geographic presence significantly, increased to approximately 750 lawyers from 550 lawyers, and saw its revenue grow by more than 80%. As a result of the opening of new offices in Houston, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Chicago, the firm has vastly added to the scope of service offered to clients.

Mr. Feldman is a member of the firm's Executive Committee, Co-Chair of the Business Reorganization & Restructuring Department, and has been a member of Willkie’s senior leadership team for the past decade.

Commenting on his new role, Mr. Feldman said: “I am honored by the support I have received from my partners to assume the role of joint Chairman. Willkie is an exceptionally strong institution, and this is thanks to the groundwork Steve and Tom have laid over the past decade for a bright and promising future for our firm. Willkie has always been more than just a place to work. It has a purpose and legacy far greater than any individual lawyer, particular team or office. I intend to pick up the baton they are handing me and continue to grow and develop this place we love so much, while deepening our commitment to excellence for our clients, valuing every individual’s contributions, and aiming to have a positive impact on the communities in which we live and work.”

In addressing the transition, Mr. Cerabino commented: “Steve has been a terrific leader, lawyer, mentor, colleague and friend, and he has played a pivotal role in transforming Willkie into the firm we are today. As this past year has challenged many of us both professionally and personally in unprecedented ways, we have come together more than ever to support each other, grounded by the stability and longevity of our institution. He has rightfully earned tremendous respect within Willkie and the wider business community, and we sincerely wish him only the very best in this next chapter of his life.”

He continued: “Matt and I are already accustomed to working closely together on firm management issues so this will be a seamless transition. Like Steve and me, Matt has grown up at Willkie and he very much embodies our cultural hallmarks of transparency, entrepreneurialism and, particularly, collegiality and respect.”

Mr. Feldman joined the firm in 1991 and has been a partner since 1998. In March 2009, he was recruited to serve as Chief Legal Advisor to the Obama administration’s Task Force on the Auto Industry. This cabinet-level Treasury Department task force was assembled to help develop the overall strategy to restructure and recapitalize General Motors Corporation and Chrysler LLC, under a compressed timeline set by President Obama. In recognition of his efforts and sacrifices in connection with his service, he received the “Secretary’s Honor Award,” presented to him by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for his “distinguished service to the American people as the Chief Legal Advisor to the Department of Treasury Auto Team.” He returned to the firm in late 2009 as Co-Chair of the Business Reorganization & Restructuring Department and a member of the Executive Committee.

Mr. Gartner commented: “In February, I shared my intentions with the firm to retire at the end of this year. When I joined Willkie in 1983 as a summer associate, I never dreamed I would have such a long and successful career in such a special firm. There is no place I would have rather been for the past nearly four decades. Serving as joint Chairman with my longtime partner and friend Tom Cerabino for more than 10 years has been a truly rewarding experience. I am proud of all we have accomplished as a firm, most recently how we have come together to support each other and our clients during the ongoing pandemic. I look forward to watching Willkie’s continued success in the marketplace under Tom’s and Matt’s leadership, and congratulate Matt on his new role. The practice of law and firm management are time-intensive commitments. As I step away from working with clients and helping to lead our firm, I hope to devote more time to pro bono and charitable work, and look forward to spending more time with my wife, Donna, four children and three grandchildren.”

Over the course of his career, Mr. Gartner has been widely recognized as one of the country’s leading M&A and private equity practitioners. His leadership and effective management style have contributed greatly to Willkie’s collegial culture. He helped Willkie to successfully navigate challenging times, including the great financial downturn of 2008 and the recent global pandemic. Mr. Gartner has mentored and supported countless colleagues in developing their careers, which often led to advancements to the firm’s partnership, internal management promotions and significant leadership positions for many partners. He has been equally committed to promoting and ensuring diversity and inclusion at the firm and, in 2018, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) honored him and the firm with a Compass Award in recognition of Willkie’s successful participation in programs designed to attract, inspire and nurture diverse talent.

He has been a major champion for pro bono and philanthropic activities, exemplified by his own involvement in pro bono matters and board service for not-for-profits, including serving as a long-time member of the St. John’s School of Law Alumni Association board, and for a term as its president. In 2015 he received the John J. Murphy Award from St. John’s in recognition of distinguished service to the public, the profession and the rule of law.

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm of approximately 750 attorneys with offices in New York, Washington, Houston, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Brussels, Milan and Rome. The Firm is headquartered in New York City at 787 Seventh Avenue.

Tel: 212.728.8000.