Marianne Auld was elected as the new managing partner of Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP, succeeding Dee Kelly Jr. at the end of the year.
Kelly stepped down from the post at the end of 2016, with Auld taking the position effective Jan. 1. Kelly had been the firm’s managing partner since 2006. Kelly will continue as a partner in the firm, remain on the executive committee and take an active part in the firm’s future.
“After 11 years, I thought this was a perfect time to transition leadership of the firm, and I am thrilled to have Marianne succeed me in my role as managing partner,” said Kelly. “She represents the best of Kelly Hart – in her extraordinary commitment to both client and community service. Our firm has seen tremendous growth during the last decade, and I am confident it will continue under Marianne’s leadership.”
Kelly had been the firm’s managing partner since 2006, only the second managing partner since the firm was co-founded in 1979 by his father, Dee Kelly Sr., and Mark Hart. Hart was the firm’s first managing partner.
“I wanted to [leave] while we’re at a really good spot,” Kelly said. “I considered last year, but when my father passed away, I decided to stay on a bit longer.”
Dee Kelly Sr. died Oct. 2, 2015.
Kelly Jr. said the firm has been growing over the past decade, with more than 160 attorneys in its offices in Fort Worth, Austin, Midland, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. “We’ve grown revenues for 10 straight years,” he said. “That’s what the lawyers I work for are looking for.”
He noted that one goal has been to transition the firm into a second-generation law firm. “We feel very good that we’re doing that,” he said.
As managing partner, Auld will provide strategic leadership and direction, manage over 350 employees, and coordinate recruiting and community initiatives for Kelly Hart & Hallman. She will remain as chairman of the appellate group at the firm. Marianne started at the firm in 1989, left in 1993 to teach and returned to the firm full-time in 2008.
Auld said the firm will continue to grow strategically.
“Our founding partners wanted us to grow in step with needs of clients,” she said. “We’ll continue to be true to that.”
Now, as the third managing partner in the history of the largest law firm in Tarrant County, Auld says she sees the position as “an honor and privilege.”
“With a combination of experienced lawyers and a new generation of dynamic partners in all practice areas, Kelly Hart is well-positioned to service the rapidly changing legal needs of our clients,” she said. “We are extremely grateful to Dee for his leadership and contributions to our success over the past 11 years, and we are happy he’s agreed to remain in a leadership position with the firm.”
Kelly Hart & Hallman has been a force in the city, the state and the country since its founding. Dee Kelly Sr. was a friend to many powerful federal, state and local leaders and the firm’s attorneys have been and remain involved in boards, organizations and nonprofits in the area. In 2014, the firm made its first expansion outside of Texas, opening a New Orleans office. It has since opened another office in Louisiana and opened one in Midland last year.
According to the Fort Worth Business Press 2016 Book of Lists, Auld will be the only female managing partner among law firms in the county. Auld says gender is not something that concerned Dee Kelly Sr.
“One thing that was true about Mr. Kelly is that he just wanted the very best results for his clients and if you were willing to work hard and help him get that done, he did not care one bit whether you were young or old, or male or female,” she said. “At the end of the day, hard work, commitment, loyalty and results were the things that mattered most to him. Because that was his attitude, I never really thought much about being a young woman lawyer. I was just a young lawyer who was trying to work hard and do the best I could to represent the clients that we had to the best of my ability and help Mr. Kelly get the results that he wanted so much for his clients.
“I think it’s the quality of the work at the end of the day that matters, no matter who it is [doing that work].”
Auld graduated first in her class from Baylor University School of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the Baylor Law Review. Following law school, she served as law clerk for Judge Thomas M. Reavley of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She was a professor of law at Baylor, teaching federal civil procedure, remedies and legal analysis,
research and communications.
In addition to her professional career, Auld serves on the boards of the DRC (Day Resource Center for the Homeless) and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.