Cozen succession plan

The transformation of Cozen O’Connor from its singular focus on insurance litigation to a broader base of transactional law and other practices continues apace.

Cozen O'Connor law firm announced what it said was a succession plan Wednesday that has Michael Heller, chair of the business law department, taking on additional responsibilities as president and Vince McGuinness becoming managing partner.

Tad Decker, who will give up the title of president but remain chief executive officer, said that the two had been involved in strategic planning at the firm for some time and that the announcement of a succession plan portended no major changes.

Heller and McGuinness "were identified early on as being part of the next [leaders] at the firm," Decker said.

Heller will continue in his business-law role while pursuing his venture capital and emerging-growth practice, the firm said. Heller, who joined the firm in 1995, was its first business lawyer and became chair of the business law department in 2007.

The firm's business practice, which includes real estate, corporate, intellectual property, and private client services, now has 170 lawyers.

As managing partner, McGuinness will take on day-to-day administrative tasks involved in running the firm and its 21 offices. He also will maintain his subrogation and recovery practice, the firm said.

Decker joined Cozen in 2000 as managing partner, and continued in that role until 2004, when Gov. Ed Rendell appointed him chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. He rejoined the firm as president and chief executive officer in 2007. Decker said there was as yet no timeline for when McGuinness and Heller might assume full control of the firm.

The firm grew from a two or three man shop in the late 1960s to a 500 plus firm with 21 offices in the United States and London. It became hugely successful defending insurers against fraudulent claims in the early 1970s and developed a substantial subrogation practice. In recent years, the firm has sought to broaden its base and the succession plan appears to be part of that.