Talking With Pete Kalis of K&L Gates

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By Gerry Riskin | Apr 10, 2007

by Bruce MacEwen

At age 56, Pete believes he stands at the dividing line between the maturation of the profession into an industry: He describes himself and his peers as the “ultimate, or more probably, the penultimate generation of unintended managers,” people who are selected largely by process of elimination.

We had an opportunity to sit down with Pete Kalis, Chairman and Global Managing Partner of K&L Gates, which is the product of the January merger of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart with Preston Gates & Ellis, creating a firm of 1400 lawyers in 22 offices on three continents. Although that milestone was a spark for the meeting, we had long wanted to get his views on the current state and future trajectory of our industry, and our supposition that his thoughts would be nuanced, astute, and every so often contrarian, were borne out in spades. Pete has thought long, deeply, and hard, about the evolution of our profession–and our industry, a distinct, but equally apt, perspective–all the while with his hands under the hood, as it were, of an increasingly prominent firm. His thoughts demand attention, reflection, and ultimately, action.

A Generational Shift

Firms have a peculiar, unscientific and very time-and-place specific approach to choosing leaders. They must be: Not too young, not too old; must have the respect of the partners; equity not income partners, etc.; and at the end of the process there may be very few viable candidates left standing.

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