King & Spalding LLP has announced that Robert D. Hays Jr. has been elected chairman of the firm. He succeeded Walter W. Driver Jr. on the conclusion of Mr. Driver's second three-year term at the end of 2005.
A trial lawyer in product liability and mass tort litigation, Mr. Hays joined King & Spalding in 1983 and since 1999 has served two terms as a member of the firm's management committee.
Since 1995, Mr. Hays has been the leader of the firm's 150-lawyer Tort & Environmental Litigation Group, which was named one of the top three product liability practices in the nation byThe American Lawyerand chosen as a national tier-one practice byChambers USA . He has been lead counsel for clients such as General Motors, UPS, Merck, Shell, Schering-Plough, GlaxoSmithKline, The Home Depot, ExxonMobil and The Coca-Cola Company.
Mr. Hays won a jury verdict in Nichols v. General Motors Corporation, which was selected by National Law Journal as one of the Top 10 Defense Verdicts of the Year in 2003. He recently won a highly publicized 11th Circuit appeal upholding another jury verdict he had previously won and making important law in the area of preemption. Hays also helped erase on appeal a record $122 million verdict in Alabama, which had earlier been selected byNational Law Journalas one of the Top 10 Plaintiffs' Verdicts of 2002.
"Robert is an extraordinary trial lawyer and has demonstrated outstanding leadership talent as a member of our policy committee and as the head of one of our firm's largest and most successful practice groups," Mr. Driver said. "I am confident that he will do an exceptional job as chairman."
Mr. Driver joined King & Spalding in 1970 and was elected a partner in 1976. He was first elected to the policy committee in 1987, was elected chairman of the policy committee in 1992 and has served six years as chairman of the firm. During this period, King & Spalding nearly tripled its number of lawyers to more than 800, added new offices in Houston and London and increased its revenues by some 500 percent to more than $500 million.