When Ralph Baxter said he wanted to put a global operations center for a nationally renowned law firm in Wheeling, some people wondered how that could work. Eleven years later, Orrick, Herrrington & Sutcliffe LLP has seen significant growth in its West Virginia location, and Baxter is coming to West Virginia University as part of the College of Business and Economics Distinguished Speaker Series share his experience.
Baxter led Orrick in establishing the first global insourcing center among law firms when Orrick launched its Global Operations Center in Wheeling in 2002. Originally home to the firm’s administrative support functions, the GOC today has a large staff of career associates and other legal professionals and has brought 350 jobs to the city.
Baxter will speak at WVU on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Erickson Alumni Center at 10 a.m., and the presentation is open to the public.
Now Orrick’s Chairman Emeritus, Baxter served as the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer from 1990 through March 2013. Under his leadership, Orrick expanded, diversified and extended its geographic reach, transforming from a domestic firm with California origins to its position today as one of the world’s most prominent global law firms, with more than 1,100 lawyers in 25 offices across the United States, Europe and Asia. Baxter also launched several transformative initiatives that more closely align Orrick with its clients, including nontraditional talent and pricing models, distinguishing the firm as a bold innovator in the legal industry.
In naming Baxter among the “Most Innovative Managing Partners” for the second year in a row in 2012, Law360’s editors noted that he “has left an indelible mark not only on [Orrick]? but also the larger practice by upending traditional career models, rejiggering payment structures and transforming the business of law in many other innovative ways.”
He has, in short, played a role in revolutionizing the legal profession.
“Ralph Baxter’s vision has changed the way many major law offices around the world do business today,” said Jose ‘Zito’ Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean, WVU College of Business and Economics. “His innovative thinking has been of great benefit to this state and to his industry, and it’s that kind of thinking we want to share with West Virginia University and the university community.”
Recognized as one of America’s “100 Most Influential Lawyers” by The National Law Journal, Baxter is a frequent speaker on business leadership and the evolution of the legal profession. He serves on the Advisory Board of Harvard Law School’s Center on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry as well as Stanford’s Center on the Legal Profession Advisory Forum and Georgetown Law Executive Education Advisory Board.
Baxter has also led the firm’s efforts to contribute to the communities in which Orrick and its lawyers and staff work and live. He plays an active role in Orrick’s innovative Community Responsibility Program, which he helped create in 2001 to orchestrate the firm’s pro bono legal services, financial support and volunteer efforts. The program ensures that the firm’s resources are strategically organized and deployed to maximize both their community impact and the number of Orrick lawyers and staff who have a chance to participate directly in the firm’s sponsored activities.
He is active in numerous civic leadership and public interest organizations in West Virginia. Baxter co-chaired the Governor’s 21st Century Jobs Cabinet from 2006 to 2010 to help lead efforts to improve education and economic development in West Virginia. He also serves on the West Virginia Workforce Investment Council, the Board of Directors of The West Virginia Education Alliance, is a member of the West Virginia Roundtable and is a board member of Imagine West Virginia.
In California, Baxter has served on the state Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth. He also served for many years on the board of directors of the San Francisco Partnership, a group of business and government leaders dedicated to promoting economic growth and development in San Francisco. Baxter was a member of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Trade Mission to China in 2005 and a member of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s Trade Mission to China in 1997.
Prior to his election as chairman and CEO, Baxter practiced employment law and led Orrick’s Employment Law practice, which he founded in 1980. He was recognized as one of the “Nation’s Best Litigators in Employment Law” by The National Law Journal. During his years as a practicing lawyer, he lectured and wrote extensively on developments in the law, and testified on employment law issues before the California State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics
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