Pepper Hamilton chooses former federal judge and FBI Director Louis Freeh as new chair

By Jon Campisi | Feb 6, 2013

The former FBI director and federal judge who made national news last year when he was

chosen to head an internal investigation into Penn State’s knowledge of the events leading up to the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal has been chosen as the new chair of Pepper Hamilton, a 500-lawyer firm with offices in seven states and Washington, D.C.

Pepper Hamilton announced Feb. 5 that Louis J. Freeh has been appointed to replace outgoing chair Nina M. Gussack later this month.

Freeh will succeed Gussack, who is completing her second and final three-year term as chair of the firm, which provides corporate, litigation and regulatory legal services to leading business, governmental and nonprofit clients nation-and-worldwide.

“Judge Freeh is the right person to assume the Chair position at Pepper Hamilton,” Gussack said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting him as his vision and leadership continue to move us forward as a law firm always at the forefront of innovation.”

After she completes her term, Gussack will continue her full-time practice of law and serve as chair of Pepper Hamilton’s nationally recognized Health Effects Litigation Practice, the firm stated.

As for Freeh, the former jurist and prosecutor said he is honored by the selection.

“Nina has done a tremendous job in both leading the firm and managing one of the largest and most dynamic practices in the country,” Freeh said in a statement. “On her watch, Pepper has become bigger, stronger, bolder, more diverse, more global, and more profitable. I am excited about being elected Chair of a great firm whose future has never been brighter.”

Freeh’s selection as chairman comes a mere five months after he joined Pepper Hamilton.

Freeh, who is in his early 60s, had been retained by Penn State University last year to investigate the school’s response to the child molestation scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who this past October was sent away to prison for three to six decades for his crimes.

Sandusky had been convicted of sexually abusing 10 underage boys during a 15-year time period.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Freeh had merged his 12-lawyer Delaware-based law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, into Pepper Hamilton this past summer.

A New Jersey native, Freeh obtained his law degree from Rutgers School of Law back in 1974, and soon went on to work as an FBI agent and assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, according to a bio provided by the Business Journal.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Freeh as a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of New York in 1991 and President Bill Clinton tapped Freeh as FBI director two years later.

In her statement, Gussack, Pepper’s outgoing chair, said that the firm’s commitment to professional management and succession planning have positioned the firm well going forward.

“We recruited Scott Green to serve in the new role of Chief Executive Officer. We redefined the role of Managing Partner and elected Tom Cole, a highly-respected Pepper partner, to that position,” she said. “And, we recruited Louis Freeh and his colleagues. All the pieces are in place for accelerated growth and performance, and I am very pleased.”

In addition to electing Freeh, the firm’s executive committee elected Julia D. Corelli and Thomas M. Gallagher as two vice chairs.

Corelli is a corporate and securities lawyer and co-chair of the firm’s Commercial Department while Gallagher is a litigator and chair of Pepper’s White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group.

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