Larry Gerber

"Throughout my time as chairman I received the support and cooperation of the Management Committee and the partners, including, most importantly, valuable and thoughtful suggestions and criticisms. Working together I believe we accomplished a great deal."

You were Firm chair for almost 13 years. Any reflections from that period of your career?

So many highlights and firsts happened during that timeframe, but I do recall addressing the partnership at a retreat not long after I became chairman. I shared my vision for the Firm with the partners. One of the things I told them was that our unit value had to grow significantly. I told them the unit value I projected for that year, which was above anything we had previously achieved. I think there were many doubters in the room, but I felt I knew the various profit levers that needed to be pulled to get to that value and I knew I could count on my partners to do what was needed from them. We not only made the value but exceeded it by a bit. Throughout my time as chairman I received the support and cooperation of the Management Committee and the partners, including, most importantly, valuable and thoughtful suggestions and criticisms. Working together I believe we accomplished a great deal.

How do you and your wife spend your time now?

We don’t really have a lot of free time. We are active in the lives of our children (both lawyers but only one is practicing) and our 4 grandchildren (not lawyers!) and are fortunate they all live within 10 minutes of us. We are active in Holocaust education and in a program we established at our synagogue where we provide financial assistance to members’ children attending Jewish overnight camps and participating in group trips to Israel. We are lifelong learners and take advantage of classes, lectures and concerts in town. We also founded Shift:Englewood, which provides a free disciplined and focused music program to elementary school children in Chicago’s intercity Englewood community. We focus on classical music as well as pieces our students compose. We started small, with about 10 students at one school, and now we have 200 students in four schools. Our goal is to help our students develop personal skills/characteristics (e.g., self-respect, self-confidence and the ability to work with others) that will better enable them to move forward to a brighter future.

Any final thoughts as you reflect on your time at McDermott?

I was a tax lawyer for 13 years, a health lawyer for 13 years and chair of the Firm for 13 years. I loved my time in each of those roles (well, most of the time). I never looked back when I moved from one role to another. I learned the true meaning of excellence, the importance of teamwork and the important principle that what’s good for the Firm is good for me and what’s bad for the Firm is bad for me. I recall being named as one of the 100 most powerful people in Chicago by Crain’s Chicago Business. I told the reporter that that had absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with McDermott Will & Emery, the institution.