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Silicon Valley-rooted law firm, Cooley, has announced its first-ever female chief executive officer (CEO) appointment. Rachel Proffitt, currently at the helm of Cooley’s San Francisco corporate practice, is set to assume her new role on January 1, 2024. She takes over from Joe Conroy, who has held the position since 2008.

From Leadership Continuity to Historical Milestone

Proffitt’s elevation is significant not just for her but also for the firm. While Conroy transitions to the chairman position, this shift marks a change in Cooley’s governance. Historically, the roles of CEO and chairman were combined, but moving forward, they will be separate.

About Rachel Proffitt

Rachel Proffitt’s journey with Cooley began in 2017 after she transitioned from West Coast competitor, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Her 21-year-long career is rich with achievements, ranging from leading robust corporate and securities law practices to advising Maplebear Inc., the parent company of Instacart, in a significant initial public offering.

Serving on multiple committees within the firm and championing legal education, Proffitt’s commitment to service and leadership has been evident throughout her tenure. As she takes the mantle of CEO, her vision focuses on fortifying the firm’s culture, fostering innovation, and adapting to the evolving landscape of client needs.

Joe Conroy’s Legacy

Conroy’s 16-year tenure as CEO has been transformational for Cooley. Under his stewardship, the firm expanded globally, growing from a primarily West Coast establishment to an international force with over 1,400 lawyers. Revenue surged from under $500 million to over $2 billion during his era. His leadership also saw pivotal strategic expansions in cities like London and Chicago.

Despite recent challenges, including a downturn in the tech-focused corporate sector leading to layoffs, Conroy remains optimistic about Cooley’s future trajectory and the ongoing demand from its corporate client base.

The Road Ahead

The transition has been meticulously planned since the fall of 2022, ensuring that there’s a seamless handover and continuity in leadership. As Cooley embarks on this new chapter, Proffitt’s role will pivot on executing the firm’s strategic goals while overseeing daily operations, reflecting the firm’s commitment to innovation and service.

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