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Vancouver law firm Roper Greyell taps new CEO

Adam Garvin, who is not a lawyer but has business experience, had been COO at the firm
Adam Garvin has been promoted to be CEO at Roper Greyell LLP

Vancouver-based workplace-law firm Roper Greyell LLP has elevated COO Adam Garvin to be its new CEO.

What may surprise some people is that Garvin is not a lawyer, but rather is a chartered professional accountant (CPA). 

The 51-lawyer firm, which ranked No. 19 on BIV's 2023 list of largest law firms in Metro Vancouver, is structured differently than most medium and large law firms in that it does not have a managing partner.

Instead it has a management committee comprised of three of the firm's partners, along with the firm's top executive, with that body acting much like a board of directors would in a corporation. Garvin, therefore, reports to the management committee.

Roper Greyell has gone without a CEO since December 2019, when its first CEO, Linda Lucas left the company following a near three-year stint. She similarly joined the firm as COO, and was in that role for more than a year before becoming CEO. The firm was founded in 2006.

Sanam Bakhtiar, the firm's director of marketing, told BIV that the firm in the past year has invested in building its leadership team. This means, she said, that the firm has more directors who lead specific areas of the organization.

"This change, and the elevation to CEO, allows Adam to move beyond his role as COO and focus on business strategy and helping the firm develop and implement initiatives aligned with the firm’s strategic plan," she said.

There is no plan to hire a new COO. 

Bakhtiar said the firm's partners believe that a more important consideration when hiring a CEO is to ensure that the person has strong business acumen, as opposed to necessarily requiring the person to be a lawyer.  

Some other firms that have a corporate structure, and a CEO, have decided to select a lawyer to be the CEO. Bennett Jones, for example, has CEO Dominique T. Hussey. Dentons' Canadian CEO is lawyer Tim B. Haney.

Hunter West Legal Recruitment director Stephanie Hacksel told BIV that selecting a non-lawyer to be a law firm CEO is not unusual. 

"It's actually quite common to have a non lawyer take a CEO position," she said. "Certainly for a COO position, the person, I would say, probably even more often woud be a non lawyer. So it would not be uncommon to have a CEO who has got a business background, but is not a lawyer."

Garvin's LinkedIn profile notes that he was COO at Roper Greyell between September 2022 and December 2023. He officially became CEO on Jan. 1. 

Immediately before that, he was a finance and management consultant for six years and four months.