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Gregory Jordan, Managing Partner, Reed Smith [by Regan Morris] Gregory Jordan, 46, is one of the youngest managing partners at a top-25 law firm. LawCrossing speaks with Jordan about his career with Reed Smith and his thoughts on the hot mergers and acquisitions climate among big law firms.

Since Mr. Jordan took over as Managing

unsettling. While chief executives and trial

So in many ways, law is an old profession,

Partner of Reed Smith in 2001, the firm has

lawyers have very different roles, Jordan

but it’s sort of a new business. The big law

nearly doubled in size and now boasts about

said many of the skills overlap and that he

firms are only now realizing that they’re big

1,000 attorneys around the world. Jordan

learned most of his management skills on

companies. So there are lots of opportunities

says the growth is market driven and that

the job.

for people who have good ideas.”

“But that’s a tough way to do it; and today,

As Managing Partner, Jordan is on the

as firms have gotten much bigger and more

road about half of the time visiting clients,

“Among the large firms, there’s a clear

complicated—half a billion or pushing a

partners, and employees at offices around

movement toward getting bigger and

billion dollars in revenue—we’ve decided

the country and in Europe. He also keeps a

consolidating, and I think that’s going to

that we need to do a more formal process or

foot in the courtroom by trying cases.

continue,” he said. “It’s sort of being driven

training leaders,” he said.

he expects more mergers and acquisitions within Reed Smith and other large firms.

“I still do some of that, although managing

by the market, where clients want firms to have broader capabilities in more locations

To that end, the firm has created what they

the firm is pretty much a full-time job now,”

and they want to have bigger, deeper

call Reed Smith University, which sends

he said. “I still have some cases, but the firm

relationships, which benefit them more.”

promising attorneys to the Wharton School of

is so big that that takes priority and I like

the University of Pennsylvania for business

running the firm. I like running the business,


and I think there is some overlap of the basic

Jordan started his career with Reed Smith

skills. So while I miss not being in court as

at its Pittsburgh headquarters in 1984 and built a vast and varied litigation practice,

“We send 35 people at a time to Wharton

much as I used to be, I kind of use the same

mainly representing banks, financial service

for a week of intensive study with the

skill set in managing the firm.”

companies, and entertainment companies. In

business school professors on leadership,

2003, American Lawyer listed him as one of

strategy, people management, profit and loss

Communication skills, interpersonal skills,

the country’s top-45 lawyers under 45.

management—all aspects of how you become

and organizational abilities are the key skills

a leader and develop your skills,” he said.

that translate to management, he said. To be a good attorney and a good manager,

Jordan declined to provide details of any future growth plans, but when asked if more

Jordan is modest about his accomplishments

people need to be able to understand a lot

expansion was likely, he said yes.

and said he rose through the ranks

of complex information and boil it down into

gradually, helping senior management in

a concise, persuasive argument. Jordan

“It is a possibility. We’re in discussions right

various projects. He said there are more

enjoyed reading and writing as a student at

now with firms in various cities in markets

opportunities now for young attorneys

Bethany College in West Virginia, and his

that we’re not in and in some markets

with good ideas and that seniority is less

persuasive arguing paid off at the University

that we are in,” he said. “So I think the


of Pittsburgh Law School.

in the industry, and I think we’re going to

“Strong communication skills, rainmaking

“Whether you’re running the business or

continue to be in the middle of it.”

skills, the ability to come up with a great new

running a case, it’s about understanding the

idea—these are all ideas that young lawyers

information, sorting it, and figuring out how

Jordan said his rise through the ranks to the

can use today to jump ahead of the pack,”

to organize it so you can persuade someone,”

top job was also a natural progression and

he said. “They don’t have to wait a long

he said. “For me, I think being a trial lawyer

that it was too gradual to feel shocking or

time to become impact players in law firms.

is sort of a close cousin to being an athlete,

consolidation program is going to continue


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1. 800.973.1177

because it’s a close competition and there

For attorneys starting their careers, Jordan

be the person next to you on an airplane. It

are winners and losers and there are the

said his best advice is to build a reputation of

might be somebody you’re in law school with.

benefits of a great work ethic and practice

quality and reliability. And while many don’t

It might be somebody who is an associate

and training and preparation.”

think of trial attorneys as nice, Jordan said

down the hall from you. You just never know;

it’s an important trait.

so be nice to everyone, not just people who

But Jordan is quick to point out that he is

seem to be in big positions.”

no champion athlete. He runs and played

“Be nice to everybody because you never

intramural sports in college, but he is

know where your next client or relationship


is going to come from,” he said. “It might


Gregory Jordan, Managing Partner, Reed Smith  

Gregory Jordan is a managing partner in Reed Smith. He is one of the youngest managing partners at a top-25 law firm.