During the past six years, 10 of the 14 Pennsylvania firms listed in the Am Law 200―including Ballard Spahr―have announced or completed changes in top leadership. In July 2011, Arthur Makadon, who had been Ballard Spahr's Chair since 2002, turned over the reins to former strategic planning partner Mark Stewart.

During Mr. Makadon's tenure the firm added offices in Wilmington, Delaware; Bethesda, Maryland; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Los Angeles; Atlanta; and San Diego. Much of that growth was also under Stewart's leadership. In 2012, the first full year under Mr. Stewart, Ballard Spahr grew its gross revenue 5.3 percent from $285 million to $300 million. Earlier this year, the firm entered the New York market through a merger with white-collar and securities litigation boutique Stillman & Friedman.

Mr. Stewart said he was "slightly more bullish" on opening a New York office than Mr. Makadon had been, but said the firm took the same approach to opening that office that it had in all of its other strategic moves under Mr. Makadon.

"The firm's philosophy through that growth [under Mr. Makadon] was that we would grow if we found the right people, we would grow if we thought there was an opportunity with a platform or practice areas and we would grow if there was a client opportunity. That didn't change at all," Mr. Stewart said.

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Mark Stewart