Semmes Bowen & Semmes, Baltimore's fourth-largest law firm, has elected Cleaveland D. Miller, a specialist in banking and corporate law, as its chairman.
Mr. Miller succeeds Geoffrey S. Mitchell, 53, who decided not to stand for re-election after a turbulent three-year term. Mr. Mitchell will return to the full-time practice of international law in the firm's Washington office.
Since the 1950s, Semmes has routinely rotated partners through the chairman's post. The 107-year-old firm, which had 17 lawyers when Mr. Miller joined it in 1963, now has 140 attorneys working out of offices in Washington, Towson, Hagerstown and Wilmington, Del., in addition to Baltimore.
Mr. Miller, 55, inherits the top job in a law firm that has experienced much turmoil in recent years, including a series of high-profile defections, layoffs of associates and support staff, and a sex-bias lawsuit.
Mr. Miller said Semmes has come a long way toward rebuilding its troubled labor law practice, which had been hit by a wave of defections. He said the firm will also focus on environmental law and international law and will consider implementing a Total Quality Management program used by many private businesses.
Mr. Miller, a Johns Hopkins University graduate, joined Semmes in 1963 after graduating from Harvard Law School. He is a past president of the Maryland State Bar Association.