Clark Hill rolls out year-long strategic leadership transition


Clark Hill on Wednesday announced a year-long process for transitioning the firm’s top leadership: Chief Executive Officer John J. Hern, Jr. will remain as CEO through the end of this year, at which time Executive Committee member John P. Hensien will take up the mantle. Hensien was nominated and unanimously approved as Clark Hill’s next CEO by the firm’s 12-member Executive Committee last September. In January 2021, Hern and Jeffrey J. Conn, also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, will assume co-chair roles.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Clark Hill’s CEO for over 17 years,” said Hern. “The unforeseen circumstances which led me into this role in 2002 left me with a keen appreciation for the value of orderly leadership transition and solidified our commitment to proactive succession planning. Through this year the firm will move into the next phase of our strategic plan, with continued focus on deepening the value and service we offer to our clients. The unanimous election of John Hensien to the role of CEO reflects the stature and regard in which he is held across the firm. It is with great confidence and excitement that I look forward to the future of the firm under John’s leadership.”

Currently a member in the firm's Corporate Practice Group, Hensien is also co-chair of its Automotive & Manufacturing Practice. Over the past 25 years, he has built a successful international Mergers & Acquisitions and corporate practice, while more recently spending about 25% of his time on firmwide administrative responsibilities. “I am grateful for the enthusiasm and support that clients have expressed about my new role, and I intend to continue to provide strategic counsel and board level involvement during and following the transition,” said Hensien.

A 1994 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Hensien earned an M.B.A. from Wayne State University in 1991. He was named a “Recognized Practitioner for Corporate/M&A” in Michigan by Chambers USA in 2019.

“John Hern is a thoughtful, selfless leader who has guided Clark Hill through three significant mergers that tripled our size and created an international platform upon which we will continue to build,” said Hensien. “His influence as CEO has embedded a high standard for excellence firmwide. It is an honor to have been entrusted with the responsibility of continuing his legacy of service to the firm and our clients. Our new leadership structure will ensure that we continue to benefit from John’s unequalled knowledge of the firm, and also from Jeff’s long history as an insightful leader.”

Conn earned a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1989. He was formerly the Managing Partner of Thorp Reed & Armstrong LLP, whose five offices merged with Clark Hill in 2013. Throughout the past seven years, Conn has served as the Member-in-Charge of Clark Hill’s Pittsburgh office, Practice Group Leader of its Banking & Financial Services Practice, and as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. His practice spans commercial and real estate finance, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate, and real estate law.

“Continuity is a fundamental value at Clark Hill, and is a key reason the Executive Committee created the co-chair structure,” said Conn. “In addition to serving as trusted advisors to John Hensien, we will each have defined areas of responsibility. I will continue to serve my clients in active practice, and I look forward to playing a part in the future growth of our firm in my newly expanded role.”


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