Fenwick's longtime chairman to step aside

May 26, 2013

The Daily Journal featured Fenwick & West in an article titled "Fenwick's longtime chairman to step aside" on the firm’s announcement that chairman Gordon Davidson will step down on January 1, 2014 and Richard Dickson will assume the role of firm-wide chairman. Davidson, who has served as Fenwick’s leader for the past 18 years, will continue his active corporate practice on a full-time basis and will be an ongoing resource to the firm’s leadership.

"[Dickson] has chaired our corporate group for the last few years, has been on the executive committee, and is representative of several generations of leaders who we've groomed over the past 10 years," Davidson said.

"I genuinely enjoy working with [Davidson]," Dickson said. "And in my capacity as chair of the corporate practice, I enjoyed carrying on the tradition to empower other partners.” He says that he is “very enthusiastic to do that across the entire partnership.”

The article paraphrases Fenwick client Cisco Systems Inc.’s general counsel, Mark Chandler, saying that “the smooth transition from Davidson to Dickson shows the firm is both stable and mature” and the he “anticipates the change will only strengthen the relationship between the company and the firm."

"There can be an impression that some Valley firms are dependent on one person," Chandler said. "Fenwick isn't in that category.”

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC chairman Larry W. Sonsini calls the upcoming transition "good succession planning and management." 

“This is a normal succession move by someone who is planning for the future stability and longevity of their enterprise," Sonsini said.

In the article, Davidson, whose clients include “technology giants” like Oracle Corp., Facebook Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Amyris Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc., said that he is looking forward to returning to his corporate practice full time. "My first love is working with the client," he said.

Since Davidson became chair, the firm’s attorney count has doubled and revenue has grown from under $100 million to more than $260 million in 2012. Over the past 10 years, Davidson has built the infrastructure necessary for his succession by empowering other partners in the firm in management roles. With three consecutive years of revenue growth, he says that now is an ideal time to step down because of the growing momentum.

Kenton J. King, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates partner-incharge in Palo Alto is quoted saying that "[Davidson is] the sort of person that would want to leave behind a stronger institution and have institutional interests at the forefront of what he's thinking about and the actions he's taking.”

"In our firm you don't aspire to leadership," Davidson said. "You get drafted."