Leading Pacific Northwest Law Firm, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Names New CEO
SEATTLE, Wa. (October 12, 2017) – Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt today announced Graciela Gomez Cowger as the 125-year-old law firm’s new CEO. Graciela is both the first woman to lead Schwabe and one of only a handful of Latinas to lead a U.S. law firm.
“Few people would expect a 125-year-old law firm to drive change and innovation. But that’s Schwabe,” said Graciela Gomez Cowger, Schwabe’s new CEO. “We celebrate the power of diversity of thought and collaboration, which is the fuel that propels our clients’ success and builds community. I am excited to lead this firm, providing our clients with deep industry insights and ideas and supporting our lawyers with the tools they need to succeed.”
Schwabe embarked on a deliberate leadership transition process over the past several years in order to build on the firm’s innovative strategic plan, which calls for a focus on clients’ industries rather than traditional legal practice areas. The industry focus areas are healthcare; technology; transportation, ports and maritime; real estate and construction; natural resources; and manufacturing, distribution and retail.
“I am committed to growing our firm’s industry focus and fostering a culture that allows our attorneys to become more immersed in our clients’ businesses,” said Gomez Cowger. “It is what will define Schwabe in the future.”
“We could not be more excited to have Graciela take over the reins,” said Craig Russillo, Chair of Schwabe’s Leadership Transition Committee. “When we started this process, we were looking for someone with an appetite for bold action to implement our strategic plan and the leadership qualities to be an effective executive. Measured against those objectives, Graciela was our clear choice. Graciela has demonstrated throughout her career—both as an engineer and an intellectual property attorney—that she doesn’t wait for others to follow. She’s a leader and an innovator.”
Graciela is taking over leadership of the firm after 16 years of shared leadership by Managing Partner Mark Long and President David Bartz, Jr. and will serve as Schwabe’s full-time CEO. The CEO position is new, and is a recognition by Schwabe that it needs a full-time leader who is focused on all aspects of delivering excellent service to our clients.
“It has truly been an honor to serve alongside Dave as Schwabe’s Managing Partner,” said Long. “In addition to growing Schwabe’s deep bench of talented attorneys, I am proud of our innovative work to focus our firm around the industries in which our clients operate. This is allowing our team to go beyond the traditional template normally provided by legal professionals and provide valuable industry knowledge to our clients. Graciela is an incredible attorney and a strong leader who will enable Schwabe to continue to build momentum as one of our region’s leading firms. On behalf of the entire firm, Dave and I wish her the very best in her new role.”
Outgoing firm President, Dave Bartz, and Managing Partner, Mark Long, have together led the firm since 2001, sharing a dual leadership role enabling them also to continue to practice law during their leadership tenures. Both will return to the practice of law while lending their support to Graciela. Dave will continue his practice in two of Schwabe’s industry groups: real estate and construction; and transportation, ports and maritime. He will remain active in community and Bar efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the profession and in our communities. Mark looks forward to continuing his corporate/healthcare practice as an active member of the firm's healthcare industry group.
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Long. “My primary objective is to ensure the success of the firm and its new leader. These are exciting times, and the profession is weathering substantial change. I hope to offer Graciela however much (or little) assistance she requests.” Dave and Mark will both bear the title of Chair Emeritus, and will continue to represent the firm in various capacities and in various professional, civic and charitable arenas. Both Dave and Mark have called Schwabe home for over 35 years.
- David Bartz, Jr.Chair Emeritus and Shareholder
- Graciela Gomez CowgerChief Executive Officer
- Mark LongIndustry Group Leader