B&D Elects Kathy Szmuszkovicz as Managing Principal, Establishes Chief Talent Officer Position

Appointments underscore the firm’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion

We are pleased to announce that the firm has elected Kathy Szmuszkovicz as Managing Principal. Kathy, who has served five terms on the firm’s Management Committee, succeeds Russ LaMotte, who served as Managing Principal since 2016 and returns to his international environmental and product regulatory practice full time at B&D. At the same time, Principal Paula Schauwecker has assumed the newly-created position of Chief Talent Officer.

Kathy takes leadership at a time when the firm, now more than ever, remains committed to diversity and inclusion (D&I) as business imperatives. In 2019, 83% of the lawyers who joined B&D were women or minorities, and the firm achieved Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Plus Certification, Law360’s “Top Law Firm for Female Attorneys” designation, and placement on the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s “Top Performers” list. 50% of B&D’s lawyers are women or minorities, as are 66% of the lawyers on the firm’s Management Committee.

“Kathy is one of the longest-tenured attorneys at our firm with over 35 years of exceptional client service, leadership and practice innovation,” said Ben Wilson, B&D’s Chairman. “She is the ideal choice to lead the firm into a new decade as our next Managing Principal. Her vision, impeccable work ethic, and commitment to excellence will continue to serve the firm and its clients well. She will undoubtedly continue to advance and uphold our high standards for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

In addition to her role as Managing Principal, Kathy will continue to chair B&D’s pesticides and biotechnology practices, working with clients in the agriculture sector, pesticides, and seeds businesses, as well as in the food, chemicals, and consumer products industries. She has litigated in federal courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and has represented clients in every Environmental Protection Agency region. She advocates for clients in alternative dispute resolution proceedings in addition to providing compliance, strategic planning, and commercial services focused on the regulatory aspect of her clients’ businesses.

“I am delighted to work alongside Ben and all our talented lawyers and staff to achieve our clients’ objectives in a dynamic legal landscape,” said Kathy. “I look forward to applying innovations in our practice and doubling down on our talent development and retention efforts as we continue to excel and grow as the leading environmental law firm.”

Kathy received her J.D. from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from Kalamazoo College. Before her legal career, she served in federal and Michigan state government.

In her role as Chief Talent Officer, Paula will be responsible for firmwide oversight of recruiting, retention, and professional development. Additionally, she will lead the firm’s continuing efforts to identify, attract and retain top talent in environmental law with an emphasis on further supporting the firm’s D&I goals.

Paula has been active in firm-wide leadership positions since becoming a principal at B&D. In addition to serving as B&D’s Diversity Principal, Chair of the D&I Committee and as a member of the firm’s Management Committee, in 2019 Paula led the creation and launch of B&D University (BDU) – the firm’s internal professional development curriculum on substantive legal skills and additional skills such as client service, leadership, business development, and marketing. As Paula takes on her new responsibilities, she will continue her practice as an environmental litigator, representing industrial manufacturing and refining companies in toxic tort, product liability, and Superfund matters with a specialization in cases concerning groundwater contamination.

“It is an honor to serve B&D in this new capacity and I am especially excited to work with Kathy to help build and support our shared vision of the extraordinary B&D of the future. I am committed to helping grow the firm’s wealth of talent and to supporting each individual in creating and achieving his or her own personal vision of success,” said Paula. “B&D has already earned a reputation for excellence and leadership in environmental practice and on diversity and inclusion, and I look forward to taking these efforts to the next level as we start a new decade.”

Paula earned her J.D. from Pace University, an M.E.M. from Yale University and her B.S. from State University of New York – Empire State. She currently serves as Corporate Secretary for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.