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Offit Kurman announces new leadership, including a nonlawyer CEO

The fast-growing law firm Offit Kurman announced Tuesday that Aaron Bukowitz will take over as chief executive officer, marking the first time that a nonlawyer has held the role.

Bukowitz has been promoted from chief operating officer, the firm announced, and Robert Skinner, who was chief administrative officer, has been promoted to the role of chief operating officer.

Ted Offit, the firm’s chairman and a co-founder, said the changes are part of a five-year transition plan.

“We’ve been working on transition and succession from a founder-based organization to the next generation of management and ownership of the company,” Offit said in an interview. “We’re really in a comfortable place and proud of what we’ve been able to do over the last few years.”

Offit Kurman has also named Linda Ostovitz, the firm’s principal and legal operations chair, to its management committee.

Bukowitz and Skinner will remain members of the firm’s management committee and will work with firm President Timothy Lynch and Managing Principal John Raftery, who are both practicing lawyers.

Offit will remain chairman of the firm and a member of the management committee.

Offit, started the firm with his brother, Maurice Offit, and childhood friend Howard Kurman, in 1987. Since then, Offit Kurman has grown to include 16 offices in seven states and more than 250 lawyers.

Ted Offit said the firm’s five-year growth plan is a gradual “glide path” for his transition out of the company’s management. In the meantime, he will continue to work on developing new offices and practice groups.

Offit said the company’s growth would not have been possible without the business professionals who are now taking over new leadership roles. The firm has doubled in size as it expanded into new markets, he said, requiring complex solutions to new issues.

“We have real challenges that our business people meet with excellence, so we’re proud of the fact that we’re able to do that,” he said.

The new leadership plan will allow lawyers to focus on developing the firm and practicing law while business professionals focus on the business side, Offit said.

“The business plan, in a nutshell, is to have a partnership of professional management of nonlawyers with lawyer leadership,” he said.

The 35-year-old boutique firm specializes in legal work for privately held businesses and wealthy families. Offit said the firm’s leaders plan to continue growing and opening offices in new locations, and each new office will have to develop its own client base.

“Every office that we open has to stand on its own and find new clients in that marketplace,” Offit said. “It’s an aggressive and challenging growth plan, but one which we’ve been able to be very successful at (in recent years).”

The firm is also known for its entrepreneurial culture, including a performance-based lawyer compensation system and proprietary training program.