LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2021: Keith Bice

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(IL photo/Eric Learned)

Keith Bice

Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP

Notre Dame Law School, 1998

Why did you decide to enter the legal profession?

I am the first generation in my family to go to college. My dad worked in foundry maintenance and later owned a small business. I learned early in my life that working with my hands is not my skill set. My skill set — reading, writing, communications — could help people like my dad and other small business owners. That’s what sent me to college and law school. It was my motivation throughout law school and in entering private practice. Over the past nearly 25 years, I have loved helping business owners with problems or matters that are outside their skill set but are within mine.

If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing?

I love to travel, so I would want to be a travel writer and share my experiences and tips with others on the places I’ve visited.

Who is someone who has inspired you in your career?

I have been very fortunate to have had influential people in my life at every step of my career. Matt Barrett, a law school professor, shaped my focus for my practice. Bill Welch and Mike Eckerle were mentors early in my career. As I developed as a leader in my practice and firm, Toby McClamroch became an unbelievable mentor. And throughout all these times in my life, my strongest guide and supporter has been my wife, Heather.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Outstanding legal work is the expectation. It’s client service and communication that sets you apart.

What makes a good lawyer/judge?

The ability to truly understand the client’s opportunity or problem, not from the perspective of a lawyer but from the perspective of the client.

How do you spend your free time?

My favorite thing to do is to travel with my family. I also like to play board games with my wife, take my dogs on walks while listening to audio books and go to dinner with friends.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

Baxter, the dog from “Anchorman.” He ate an entire wheel of cheese!

Which superpower would you rather have: invisibility or the ability to read minds?

The ability to read minds. To understand other people’s perspectives is one of the greatest superpowers we can have.

Tell us about your work designing/executing Project Golden Spike.

I am really proud to have been a part of Project Golden Spike from the beginning. I was in one of the very first Golden Spike design meetings that took place in Indianapolis with Joe Andrew, global chairman of Dentons, and Toby McClamroch, who at the time was managing partner of Bingham Greenebaum Doll and is now the managing partner of the Dentons US Region. That meeting set off two years of intense discussions and planning with Dentons, with our founding firm colleagues from Pittsburgh, Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, and with all of our firm partners. My role included traveling and participating in meetings, presenting the latest information to our board, then talking to all our partners about the project.

We worked really hard to make Project Golden Spike successful, and so far it has genuinely exceeded our expectations.

What was it like leading a law firm during a pandemic?

Initially, it was moving into the great unknown. I very clearly remember thinking, “Can we pick up our whole firm and move to remote work and survive for two weeks?” Thanks to the hard work from our administrative team and the resilience by all on our legal team, we discovered we could serve our clients seamlessly on a remote basis. We found the challenge for us with remote work was not client service but in keeping consistent communications and the strong connectivity of our culture. Like many businesses, we are working on ideas and finding opportunities to strengthen our culture in 2022 and beyond.

We also found that adapting to the challenges of the pandemic advanced our “office of the future” mentality by five or 10 years, leading us forward much more quickly than had the pandemic not occurred.•

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