Managing Partner » New COO For Barnes & Thornburg

New COO For Barnes & Thornburg


October 19, 2017

“Heck no,” was Steve Merkel’s first reaction when he was told about a position he might apply for, that of COO at Barnes & Thornburg. He was retired from the Army, and serving as chief of operations at the U.S. Military Academy. He wanted to return to the Midwest with his family, but he wasn’t sure about working for a law firm. He had managed and led troops during a 30 year career in the military, during which he saw combat in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Turkey-Syria border. He’s not a lawyer, but Barnes & Thornburg thought he was right for the job, and so does Merkel. He sees correlations between his service in the military and running a large law firm. For example, as chief of staff for the First United States Army, he was required to communicate vision and direction across a geographically dispersed team of 11,000 troops. The key to success for the firm, he says, is to continue emphasizing transition planning, mentoring new lawyers and regularly reviewing and adjusting the strategic plan.

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