To say Polsinelli had a good year in 2019 would be an understatement.
Revenue jumped by 13 percent, and profits per equity partner moved up by 28 percent. The firm capped a decade of rising revenues with a brand-new office serving the Miami area.
Much of that success can be credited to Chase Simmons. Now in his first full year as chairman and CEO of the firm, the former real estate group leader, who has worked for Polsinelli since clerking there in 1996, has been breeding a culture of success in the organization.
But he hasn’t just been turning heads in the legal community: He’s also been adding them. Fifty-five attorneys have joined the firm during the course of the year.
“This year has really been about living our strategic plan,” said Simmons, a University of Georgia graduate and native of that state. “We’ve accomplished much of what we wanted to accomplish over the last 10 years. If there has been a little bit of evolution, it has been that our growth has been very organic.”
That organic component has been important because much of the firm’s growth has been largely client-driven, Simmons said — a fact that makes any expansion more sustainable and less risky in the event of an economic downturn.
Simmons has changed the firm’s recruitment strategy in a move away from equity recruiting and toward a focus on “up-and-comers” already in the ranks.
“We’d like to grow more through promotions than through trying to bring someone in from another firm,” he said. “We’ll do both, but we’ve had a lot of success by promoting people from within.”
Simmons also has worked to alter the internal structure of the firm in a few ways. For instance, he created a new cross-departmental litigation chair.
“It is a little bit of an experiment for us, but it has been very well-received and successful thus far,” he said of the position, which spans all six departments. “It is a good way for us to both specialize from a litigation perspective but also remember that there is a Polsinelli way of litigating.”
Indeed, stressing the Polsinelli way of doing everything is vital to Simmons.
“Every economic decision we make, every hiring decision we make, every time we decide to take on a client, we start with reminding ourselves of our culture and values,” he said. “Then the other stuff kind of takes care of itself.”
His nominator reinforced that idea.
“This year was one for the books, filled with success and demonstrated action and leadership,” the nominator wrote. “Chase’s commitment to Polsinelli, through thoughtful intention and strategic initiatives, was evident in our firm’s many successes in 2019.”
Simmons said that growth has been due to the firm’s desire to put its clients first.
“My style and the firm’s philosophy of management is to make sure that we’re not trying to do one-size-fits-all and that we are trying to be very client-driven and attentive to the needs of different clients in different markets,” he said. “That can be a challenge at 900 lawyers because you need to have some level of uniformity and centralization, but it is a really important part of our culture that we allow people to operate in a way that is consistent with the industry they are trying to serve.”
So what will the future look like at Polsinelli?
“In a lot of respects, it probably looks like the past,” Simmons said.
If recent history is any indication, that’s welcome news for its attorneys and clients.