After nearly 10 years managing Lewis Thomason’s Downtown Memphis law offices, Mike Keeney is passing the reins to a defense attorney who spent the majority of her career working part-time.
Keeney led the integration of Memphis-based Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell PLLC with Knoxville-based Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop PC when the two firms merged in 2014 to create one of the largest state-based firms in Tennessee.
“We have had an unbelievably successful merger of two firms to create this great statewide presence, and to be honest, when you evolve as a law firm, it’s good to have new leadership who can give new eyes to some of the issues going forward,” Keeney said.
That new leadership is Andrea Malkin, who replaces Keeney as the firm’s managing shareholder.
Malkin began her career with what was then-Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell in 1996, after a brief stint working for AutoZone.
“I wanted to be in the courtroom and I wanted to do litigation, and I didn’t envision having children right away either,” Malkin said.
Two years later, Malkin found out she was pregnant with her first son, Jacob, now 18.
At the time, being a part-time lawyer was a new concept for Memphis. No one at Thomason Hendrix had gone part-time for any protracted period of time. But, Malkin would be the first, working part-time for 14 years of her 21-year legal career.
“I proposed it, and the folks up here were really lovely in willing to try it,” Malkin said. “It really was the experimental version of it and it worked out great.”
Kim Johnson, a past managing partner of Thomason Hendrix, and partners Al Harvey and Jerry Mitchell were part of the firm’s decision makers who took a chance on the at-the-time novel arrangement.
When Malkin returned from maternity leave, she worked in the office three days a week. Not only was Malkin able to continue to work and advance her skills while staying at home with her children, Thomason Hendrix also made her a nonequity partner in 2005.
In 2013, Malkin transitioned back to full-time, which she said, was also very easy and fluid.
“It was always, ‘Whatever you can do, we’re happy to have you here,’” Malkin said.
And, last year, when Lewis Thomason decided to stay Downtown, signing a 10-year lease for the One Commerce Square space it has occupied since 1991 and planning an office renovation, it was Malkin who led the lease renewal and renovations.
As managing shareholder, Malkin anticipates growing the firm’s practice areas to be more full-service as well as hiring more lawyers.
Keeney will remain with Lewis Thomason but plans to devote more time to interests outside the firm.
“I’m involved in community and business interests and I’ve wanted to put more of a focus on that. I would never want to short this law firm because it’s been the most important thing in my professional life and will continue to be so,” Keeney said.
See the full article in the Memphis Bar Journal by Michelle Corbet.