Interviewed the week of May 24, Katten CEO Noah Heller was featured in Law360’s “Law Firm Leaders” Q&A series, where he discussed his core responsibilities, some challenges he faces in managing a law firm today, how Katten is responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how the firm has changed over the past decade.

In 2013, Noah became Katten’s first CEO when the firm divided its national managing partner leadership role into two roles: CEO and chairman. As CEO, Noah provides strategic and operational direction for Katten, working closely with firm practice heads.

One of the challenges in managing a law firm today, according to Noah, is increased competition in the legal industry, which has grown during the COVID-19 health crisis and the related economic downturn.

“Making sure that the law firm is differentiated in a way that resonates with our clients is important to us. The law and BigLaw have become so sophisticated and so specialized that to truly be a full-service law firm takes multiples of 700 lawyers,” Noah explained.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Katten continues to engage in important conversations about expanding and improving the firm. Noah said he spends a great deal of time encouraging his team to think not only about the difficulties they face during a global pandemic, but also about all the opportunities that will arise out of such a difficult time.

While Katten has grown over the past decade, it maintains the same entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to “go the extra mile” for clients that has distinguished the firm since its founding.

“In its infancy, the firm was driven by pure individual entrepreneurialism. In our earliest days, we weren't well known, and there were many more firms that were in existence for far longer than us with more well-known brands, so we had to fight for the work that we had to do based on our individual desire to be the best lawyers and to do the best work that we can do,” Noah said.

Asked which attorney he would most like to have lunch with (alive or dead), Noah said:

“…David Stern: the ex-commissioner of the NBA who just passed away recently,” Noah said. “[Because of] his vision and the way that he was able to grow the game, and his ability to see how the game could adapt and become the global powerhouse that it is, and he’s probably just got some great stories.”

Read, “Law Firm Leaders: Katten’s Noah Heller,” in its entirety.