Madeleine McDonough, a top partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon, will become the law firm’s chairwoman Jan. 1 after partners there elected her to the job Friday.
McDonough, a clinical pharmacist before she began her law career at the well-known Kansas City firm in 1990, will take the place of John Murphy, the firm’s chairman since 2000. The firm has 277 attorneys in Kansas City.
McDonough will be Shook Hardy’s first female chair.
Partners picked Murphy to serve his third five-year term as chairman in 2010; he said upon that election that it would be his last.
“I felt that a 15-year reign was plenty long enough and it was time to turn it over to someone else,” Murphy said in an interview Friday.
McDonough leads Shook Hardy’s pharmaceutical and medical device practices, often representing major clients in litigation and regulatory compliance issues. Pharmaceutical companies make up one of Shook Hardy’s most prominent and lucrative client bases. She counts GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Bayer among her most recognizable clients.
McDonough also has a hand in the firm’s agribusiness, food safety, life sciences and biotechnology practices.
“I work very hard to anticipate legal issues and evolving legal needs long before they present themselves,” she said.
McDonough landed her first job as a lawyer at Shook Hardy in 1990 after graduating from the University of Kansas School of Law. She later received a masters of law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. By then, Shook had evolved from a modestly sized law firm in Kansas City to a significant force in product liability defense work.
Much of that initial growth was fueled by the firm’s defense of tobacco companies in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, the firm had expanded its reach into product liability for pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
Under Murphy’s leadership, Shook Hardy expanded its legal practice into commercial litigation — employment, insurance disputes, construction issues and the like — as well as intellectual property and securities. Shook Hardy hung its shingle in several other cities during Murphy’s time as chairman; offices in Denver and Chicago are devoted entirely to commercial litigation.
Murphy, whose civic involvement includes a spot on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce board and a co-chairmanship of the Kansas City Area Development Council, will return to full-time law practice.
Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277