Law Firm Leaders
A hallmark of leadership is the ability to rise to the occasion.
In David Braswell’s case, that meant stepping into the role of Armstrong Teasdale managing partner after predecessor John Beulick’s untimely death in December 2018.
“This is not a position I ever really wanted to be in,” Braswell said. “When I was asked if I was willing to serve, I said yes because I wanted to give something back to the firm that’s given so much to me and my family over the last 25 years.”
Braswelll’s roots at the firm run deep. A native of Carbondale, Illinois and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, he joined the firm’s St. Louis headquarters as a summer associate in 1993 while still at Stanford Law.
He returned to the firm full-time after graduation, building a thriving practice that includes advising public and private companies on transactional and compliance issues while helping them to execute strategic plans and operational goals. He spent nine years as leader of the firm’s corporate services practice group and currently chairs its executive committee.
Under his leadership, the firm has opened six new offices across the country: in Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Salt Lake City; Princeton, New Jersey; and Edwardsville, Illinois. It added four of those offices in 2020 while weathering the challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Also in the past year, the firm hired more than 70 attorneys and support personnel.
“There are a lot of really smart and very capable people at Armstrong Teasdale, and I felt that if I could use them as a resource and sounding board, I would be better equipped to make hard decisions,” Braswell said of his leadership approach. “It’s incredibly important to communicate well, and part of communicating is listening well.”
Among Braswell’s other achievements in 2020:
• He established and led an internal committee that developed a new 5-year strategic plan.
• He led the firm’s effort to pivot more than 500 attorneys and staff to a remote working environment in less than 48 hours.
• He organized a new diversity, equity and inclusion department, led by the firm’s first chief diversity officer, which reports directly to the executive committee.
In nominating Braswell, a colleague described him as a leader who “has injected optimism, hope and unfailing encouragement into the firm in both unprecedented and challenging times” in such ways as sending cheerful, daily email updates to employees for the first several months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Firm attorneys and staff have described David as sincere, transparent and inspiring,” his nominator wrote. “His sense of community and compassionate leadership have enabled attorneys and staff to look to the future. In a competitive legal market, David knew from day one that his role would require unparalleled focus and a thoughtful, strategic approach.”
Braswell credits his choice of corporate law to the 12 years he spent working at Guarantee Electric, a St. Louis electrical contractor, overseeing a service division with 150 electricians and 10 office workers.
“I had a wealth of business experience I could apply to my corporate practice,” he said.
Away from the office, Braswell is an avid fly fisherman — a passion honed during stops in the Rockies to fish for trout on his drives back to the Midwest during law school summer breaks.
“There is nothing more peaceful and serene than being on a beautiful river or stream, whether or not you’re catching [any] fish,” he said. “There’s something magical about casting a fly and watching your line roll out on the water. There’s an art to it.”
When he’s not fly fishing, Braswell can be found at home in Wildwood, joined by his wife, three children and a menagerie of 20 chickens, eight guinea hens, five guinea pigs, three miniature donkeys, two horses, two cats, two dogs, three mice and a rat — “and probably a few creatures living with us I don’t even know about,” he added.