Debra Lawrence Named COO of Ballard Spahr
National law firm Ballard Spahr announced that Debra S. Lawrence has joined the firm as Chief Operating Officer. She will succeed Executive Director Mark Langdon, who is retiring after 33 years with the firm.
As COO, Ms. Lawrence will oversee Ballard Spahr’s business, financial, and administrative operations, and will focus on the firm’s strategic growth. She will report to firm Chair Mark Stewart and work closely with Chair-Elect Peter V. Michaud. Ms. Lawrence will serve on the firm’s Management Committee and Expanded Board.
“Debra brings more than 25 years of experience developing and executing law firm strategy, managing growth, and identifying business opportunities across geographies and practices,” Mr. Stewart said. “She is an excellent manager of operations and people and is a natural fit with the culture of the firm. We’re excited to welcome her.”
Ms. Lawrence joins Ballard Spahr from Morgan Lewis, where she served as Chief Strategy Officer since 2014. Working closely with the firm Chair and other leaders, she played a key role in that firm’s expansion efforts and oversaw teams responsible for supporting practice strategy, lateral growth and integration, business operations, pricing and project management, and competitive intelligence. Her teams helped formulate and implement strategic and financial priorities and add value to client relationships. She holds an M.B.A. from Drexel University.
“Ballard is known for the exceptional quality of its lawyers and for being a national leader in client value and innovation,” said Mr. Michaud, who will become Chair of Ballard Spahr on January 1, 2024. “Debra will be working with attorneys and leading a talented team of business professionals to identify and advance creative business practices that will help us operate more efficiently, enhance our competitiveness, and do our best work for clients.”
Ms. Lawrence will work with Mr. Langdon and firm leadership as she transitions into her role. Mr. Langdon joined the firm in 1989 as Director of Finance and was promoted to Executive Director in 2004. During his 18 years leading Ballard Spahr’s business operations, annual revenue more than doubled, the firm added offices in eight U.S. locations, and the number of attorneys increased from 412 to 650.
“At an event last month that brought together every attorney at the firm, Mark received a standing ovation,” Mr. Stewart said. “He has contributed to the firm—our culture, our success, our creativity and spirit—in so many ways over the years. He has been a mentor and a friend to lawyers and staff across the firm, as well as a steady voice through every wind and weather. We will miss him dearly and wish him a happy, relaxing, and well-earned retirement.”
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