(CHICAGO) Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP announced today that Craig Courter will become the firm's new chief operating officer (COO), effective October 16, 2017. Courter, who has been recognized globally for his thought leadership in various roles of law firm management, succeeds the retiring Allan Wood, who successfully served as Katten COO for more than 20 years.

"Craig is a visionary leader who will use his wealth of experience, industry knowledge and ideas to take on the most difficult, business-critical projects at our firm," said Katten Chairman Roger P. Furey. "He knows how to balance efficiency and innovation, and he will build on the important initiatives and services that Al worked tirelessly to establish over the last two decades."

Courter was formerly global COO at Baker McKenzie. He will work closely with Katten CEO Noah Heller to help steer the financial, technology, talent management, knowledge management and data analytics operations of the firm, among other responsibilities.

"Craig is drawn to and excels at the most challenging and critical work impacting all aspects of a firm's operations," Heller said. "His extensive knowledge and ability to further incorporate technology into legal operations comes to us at a time when there are even more opportunities for us to work at the highest levels of efficiency while providing superior client service and best-in-class legal talent."

Courter has over 30 years of broad-ranging experience in the legal industry. After graduating from law school magna cum laude, he worked his way up to become a partner in his firm, practicing commercial litigation. But his passion was operations, and he later served as global chief information officer (CIO) and COO of Baker McKenzie and as COO of Perkins Coie. That experience, combined with six years as a surface warfare officer in the US Navy, gives him a strong and practical operations background.

Courter has taught a college-level computer programming course and a law school course on Computers and the Law. He has 47 years of computer programming experience and a significant background in data bases and data architecture. He recently led Baker McKenzie's successful implementation of a single firm-wide instance of SAP. He was named among the Legal Week Top 20 Legal Innovators in 2016 and has been consistently recognized by team members for championing diversity and mentoring and developing people for future success.

"As one of the youngest firms in the AMLaw 100, Katten was built on a foundation of innovation and entrepreneurialism that remains strong today," Courter said. "I share Katten's commitment to taking innovation in the business of law to the next level and look forward to fostering that spirit by helping to reinforce and expand on the already strong core operations that are in place at the firm."

The retiring Al Wood joined Katten as COO in 1996. "Al has been a terrific business partner, valued advisor and contributor to the firm," Heller said. "His intelligence, fairness and so many other great qualities have made a lasting impression on the fabric of our firm and its culture. We thank him for his two decades of service and wish him well in his retirement."