Alex Shumate is not a man who likes to wait for things to happen. Whether he’s acting as managing partner at Squire Patton Boggs’ Columbus office or as a trustee at The Ohio State University, Shumate strives for action, growth and innovation. And he is eager to get others involved in his work.
“That’s extremely important in today’s world. So, I’ve worked extensively on perfecting collaboration skills, as well as being someone who tries to stay creative and on the cutting edge of innovative ideas and concepts,” he says.
Shumate applies this mindset of continuous improvement to his many roles in and around the Columbus community. He remembers a law professor talking about how the study of law both broadens and narrows you. It can expand your legal knowledge and your awareness of legal principles and concepts, but it can also narrow your ability to see other points of view.
By embracing his roles as board member, lawyer, business leader or just interested community member, Shumate helps himself and his ability to contribute as much as he helps those around him.
“Hopefully I’m giving as much as I’m receiving, but certainly, they help me to avoid the pitfall of becoming too narrow in my viewpoints,” Shumate says, even if it means not getting as much sleep as he’d like at times. “Leadership is not just what you say, but what you do and how you do it.”
Global reach; world-class talent
Shumate has been the Columbus managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs for 25 years. He joined the firm five years before that when it had about 300 lawyers and four offices. Today, Squire Patton Boggs, which started in Cleveland, is a global firm with 1,700 attorneys. It has 45 offices, and 27 of those are in other countries.
“We have focused on building our global platform. We believe that to remain competitive and to strengthen our position in the legal industry that means having a global platform that’s able to meet the client’s needs wherever the client is conducting business. And certainly, as you look at Columbus specifically, and Ohio in general, more and more of our corporations and businesses are doing business internationally,” he says.
Shumate says the firm followed a thoughtful plan to grow into an international organization. It knew what gaps needed to be filled.
“It’s really important to know who you are and where you want to go before you really engage in expansion efforts, in my opinion,” he says.
Not only has Squire Patton Boggs acquired other law firms to expand its global platform, Shumate’s Columbus office and other offices spend a significant amount of time recruiting, developing and retaining talent.
“I firmly believe that you have to have world-class talent and legal skills, as well as strong client relationships,” he says.
Shumate’s team does its due diligence before hiring, learning about job candidates. It’s a matter of each side getting to know each other, so both go into it with eyes wide open, he says.
Talent remains important when integrating other firms as well. Shumate says one of the most important aspects of a successful combination is to make sure there’s a similar culture, which requires strong integration teams. But even then, it requires time to assimilate the new attorneys into the culture of Squire Patton Boggs, while still being open to taking on the positive aspects of the outside firm’s culture.