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Hanaway to lead firm as chair of Husch Blackwell 

Catherine Hanaway has spent the past 12 months preparing to lead one of Missouri’s largest law firms. That she and everyone else at Husch Blackwell have spent most of that time working from kitchens and living rooms is a testament to the firm’s strengths.

Catherine L. Hanaway

Catherine Hanaway

“There’s an old saying that character is what you do when nobody’s looking,” Hanaway said in an interview. “Nobody was looking over anybody’s shoulder when they were working from home, and yet they worked really hard. It’s really humbling to become the leader of a group of people, lawyer and nonlawyer, who has such strength of character.”

Hanaway officially became Husch Blackwell’s chair on April 1. She is the firm’s first female chair and the fourth person to serve in that role following the 2008 merger of Husch & Eppenberger and Blackwell Sanders that created the firm.

Greg Smith, who served as chair from 2018 to 2021 and was the firm’s CEO and managing partner for six years prior to that, has returned full time to a real estate and development law practice.

“It’s been a fun year of transition, and Greg Smith has been incredible,” Hanaway said. “Even just a couple of days in, I have a clearer picture of just how good Greg was.”

Despite the uncertainty that 2020 brought, the firm reported yearly revenue of slightly more than $417 million, an increase of 9.7 percent compared to the prior year. That good financial outcome stands in stark contrast to the difficulties of the year, as Hanaway was quick to note.

“A lot of people lost loved ones, lost treasured moments in their lives, didn’t get to have weddings or had small weddings, didn’t get to grieve at funerals, didn’t get to go to graduations,” she said. “It was a terrible year for the world. We were fortunate it was a great year for us financially.”

More details on the financial performance of Husch and other Missouri law firms will be available in Missouri Lawyers Media’s MOney 2021 publication in June.

Hanaway is a former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. Upon joining Husch in 2013, she helped to form and lead the firm’s government solutions and white collar, internal investigations and compliance groups. 

RELATED: Hanaway prepares to lead Husch Blackwell beyond COVID-19