- change ups
Warner Norcross elects managing partner
Warner Norcross & Judd has elected the managing partner who will guide the strategic direction and growth of the law firm.
Douglas Wagner has been re-elected managing partner of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP for a fifth term, which makes him the longest-serving managing partner in the firm’s history.
Wagner was unopposed for the position and said he feels honored to be selected for the role once again.
He will serve a two-year term, which begins on Jan. 1, 2014.
Warner Norcross has nearly 230 attorneys and 190 professional staff in seven offices across Michigan, including Grand Rapids.
“I am privileged and humbled to think that so many talented people here at the firm would trust me with this responsibility, and I am very proud of it,” Wagner said.
Wagner said that he tries to be transparent in his decision making and emphasized that he isn’t alone in managing the firm.
“We also have an elected management committee, and, obviously, I work very closely with them and also with our executive director, whose duties are in the nature of chief operating officer,” Wagner said.
Warner Norcross said it has grown under Wagner’s leadership.
The firm has expanded its Michigan footprint, opening offices in Macomb County and Midland, and added more than 50 new attorneys since 2006, an overall increase of 28 percent, according to a firm announcement.
It has established more than a dozen new practice areas: economic incentives, sustainability and climate change, emergency manager law, energy law, privacy and concierge medicine and others.
The firm has also earned awards for workplace excellence, diversity programming and overall leadership in the industry. Warner Norcross said it has supported dozens of scholarships and programs designed to encourage minority students to pursue a career in the industry.
When asked about which accomplishments he is most proud of, Wagner pointed to the progress the firm is making in the area of diversity and inclusion, its recognition as a top-notch employer and strides within its litigation practice.
“We are very proud of our participation in the diversity initiatives of the Grand Rapids Bar Association — we’ve had a leadership position in that,” Wagner said.
“I’m also very proud of the recognition the firm has received from various publications with regard to the engagement of our employees and their satisfaction with their employment here at Warner Norcross," he said. "I think it was two years ago that the Detroit Free Press selected us as the number-one place to work in the state of Michigan for mid-sized employers. I think that says a lot.”
He added that the firm recently received the Best in Class designation following an employee survey conducted by Right Management.
“I am also very proud of what we’ve been able to do with our litigation practice," Wagner said. "We really turned a corner, I think, when we were selected by Whirlpool to be their national business litigation counsel."
He also noted that the firm’s representation of Fortune 100 companies has increased.
“We've become national counsel for a number of clients or at least counsel that covers very large regions of the country and that has been very good for our business,” he said.
In the market
Wagner noted that the past years have been challenging, but he believes the firm weathered them very well.
“We’ve been able to go through a very tough economic time without layoffs, without reduction of benefits, and I’m very proud of that,” he said.
He expects to continue to weigh growth opportunities during his next term and said that the firm will still focus on Michigan markets for potential offices, as well as recently opened offices for continued growth.
Wagner added that the firm expects good years ahead for many of its practice areas.
“This year, we’ve seen progress in terms of economic growth, real estate development seems to be coming back, commercial lending is on the uptick, we see more M & A activity with our institutional clients,” he said. “It’s been a slow and gradual growth. It hasn’t been sudden. This year, we’ve seen more progress than we saw in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”
Wagner has been with Warner Norcros & Judd since 1977 and is the past chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group.
In addition to his work in the legal community, he's also on the board of The Right Place, the advisory board of D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s Home for Children and on the West Michigan Honorary Committee of Inforum.