Snell & Wilmer announced today that firm Chair Matthew Feeney will step down from the position in the spring of 2023. Having taken the helm in 2015, Feeney has led the firm through extraordinary growth in recent years, including strategic expansion into the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
Barbara J. Dawson, who serves on the firm’s Executive and Compensation Committees, will assume the chair role on April 10, 2023, after more than three decades at the firm. Feeney will remain active in his practice.
“It has been and remains an honor to lead the firm where I have worked since graduating from Notre Dame Law School nearly 40 years ago,” Matthew Feeney said. “Since day one, I sought to build on the firm’s foundational values of service to our clients, our communities, and to each other. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as chair and am confident about the future of our firm under the guidance of my colleague and friend, Barb Dawson, who has exhibited extraordinary leadership capabilities within and outside of Snell & Wilmer.”
Feeney joined Snell & Wilmer in 1983, rising through the ranks as a partner in the firm’s Phoenix office and a member of key firm committees. In addition to leading Snell & Wilmer amid significant growth, he has helped the firm navigate unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, all while earning accolades for his role, including recognition from the Phoenix Business Journal as being among the Most Admired Leaders.
Throughout his career, Matthew Feeney has been involved in numerous business, civic, and charitable organizations. In addition to helping develop a formal pro bono policy for Snell & Wilmer in the late 1980s under which attorneys receive billable hour credit for legal services to the poor, Feeney is a founding board member and former chair of St. Joseph the Worker, an organization that provides job development services to assist homeless, low-income, and other disadvantaged individuals.
“Matt is an outstanding lawyer, a tremendous leader, and a good friend,” Dawson said. “I’m humbled to build upon Matt’s success and that of his predecessors and will work closely with him over the next year and beyond to advance our firm’s vision and strategy. As I deeply value the firm’s credo of commitment to clients, community and each other, I’m honored to be stepping into the chair role and am looking forward to working more closely with talented leaders both inside and outside of the firm.”
Dawson is a senior investigations and litigation partner and serves on the firm’s elected five-person Executive Committee and three-person Compensation Committee. She also has led the firm’s Commercial Litigation and its International Practice Groups. She leads teams serving several Fortunate 500 companies and their boards of directors. Dawson has received honors for both her legal and business leadership including the Athena Award for Businesswoman of the Year and The Best Lawyers in America© recognition as Phoenix Lawyer of the Year for Regulatory Enforcement Litigation.
In addition to having chaired the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, Dawson serves on the ABA’s board of the Rule of Law Initiative and recently served on the 16-person ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary that vets and rates federal judicial candidates for the United States Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and District Courts. On an international basis, she has served as chair of the Board of Directors for Lex Mundi, a global affiliation of 160+ independent law firms located in 100+ countries.
Throughout her career, Dawson has remained resolute in her commitment to developing opportunities for attorneys within the firm to grow and find success. In the 1990s, she developed the Mary Leader Women in Leadership Program, named in honor of the firm’s first female partner, to help support women attorneys at the firm. She also co-founded and chaired the firm’s Attorney Development Committee, which oversees firmwide professional development initiatives, including mentoring, training, and relationship building.
Dawson was unanimously chosen as Snell & Wilmer’s next chair by the firm’s Executive Committee after a careful, robust, and comprehensive input process involving stakeholders across the firm.