Grand Rapids’ Varnum LLP Announces Chair, Executive Partner

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Ronald G. DeWaard, Scott J. Hill
From left: Ronald G. DeWaard, Scott J. Hill // Photographs courtesy of Varnum

Varnum in Grand Rapids has announced Ronald G. DeWaard will serve as chair of the partnership and policy committee, and Scott J. Hill will serve as executive partner.

In his position, DeWaard will be responsible for firm strategy and partner compensation. Dave Khorey served as chair from 2016-2018. Hill will be responsible for policy implementation, lean processes, and attorney development. Tom Kyros was the previous executive partner and served in the position since 2012.

Varnum has used a dual management structure for the past six years.

DeWaard says the firm plans to open a fourth office in southeast Michigan and anticipates moving its Ann Arbor office to a larger space.

“We have established the Varnum brand in markets well beyond our original west Michigan base, and our goal in the near term is to accelerate growth in those markets,” says DeWaard. “In addition, we will continue to focus on using technology and innovative practices to provide the best possible value to our clients.”

DeWaard is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor. He began his legal career with Varnum in 1990 and left in 1994 to serve as assistant United States attorney for the southern district of Florida-Miami. In that office, he served in the economic crimes division and later as deputy chief of the major crimes division. He rejoined Varnum in 2001 and focuses on civil and white-collar litigation, and investigations. He most recently served as chair of Varnum’s litigation practice team.

Hill said he expects both he and DeWaard will spend considerable time in southeast Michigan. Hill traces his roots to that region and has spent the last four years managing his own practice, but also assisting the integration of lateral attorneys into the firm and coaching attorneys on their practice development. DeWaard has significant involvement in southeast Michigan, including most recently on the leadership team for a Monitor assigned by the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee OEM compliance with a deferred prosecution agreement related to product defects.

We continue to have success through organic growth from our entry level hiring as well as our lateral attraction efforts. Integration of these two groups within our outstanding culture is essential to our long-term success,Hill said. The pace of change in our profession is accelerating and while we enjoy the strength of a firm founded 131 years ago we recognize that we need to proactively walk with our clients to best serve their needs.”

Hill, who joined the firm in 2003, is a corporate attorney with a focus on business representation including M&A, private equity, and joint ventures. He works extensively with closely-held businesses on supply chain, governance, succession planning and general corporate matters. His past leadership roles at the firm include service as Corporate Practice Team Leader and leading the Attorney Recruitment Committee. Those experiences remain important as the firm continues its expansion plans.

In addition to the new leadership, other management changes include the election of three members to the firm’s Policy Committee, the primary governing body of the firm. Kim Clarke, Pete Roth and Perrin Rynders will serve three-year terms on the eight-member committee. Clarke and Roth are new to the committee; Rynders is serving a second term.

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