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Barnes & Thornburg Names Eleanor Smith as Chief Client Officer

INDIANAPOLIS - Barnes & Thornburg is pleased to announce that Eleanor Smith has joined the firm as chief client officer, bringing more than two decades of legal business development and practice management experience to the role.

Smith leads the Client Growth Department, combining traditional marketing and business development duties with a strategic focus on driving closer relationships with clients to elevate overall satisfaction and value. Working closely with firm and practice group leaders, Smith will lead initiatives that bring greater investment and focus to client relationships in high-priority practices and sectors. Leveraging her deep healthcare industry roots, she will focus initially on expanding Barnes & Thornburg’s national Healthcare Industry Practice, which boasts more than 80 attorneys.

As CCO, Smith will also liaise with Barnes & Thornburg’s award-winning Legal Operations department, which offers a suite of pricing, process, practice innovation and technology solutions that bring greater value, efficiency, and predictability to delivery of legal services. Smith, who resides in Nashville, a strategic healthcare market, reports to Steven Merkel, chief operating officer of Barnes & Thornburg.

“Eleanor’s extensive client relationship and business development experience—combined with her creativity and collaborative spirit—make her a valuable addition to the Barnes & Thornburg team,” said Andrew Detherage, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg. “As the legal industry continues to adapt and clients face new challenges, her strategic insights will allow us to anticipate our clients’ evolving needs and further enhance our relationships.” 

Smith’s legal practice management experience includes more than 15 years focused on the healthcare sector for the fourth-largest health law firm in the country. Her responsibilities included analyzing financial performance, monitoring utilization and resolving productivity matters, advising on recruiting decisions, leading lateral integration, and facilitating collaborative communication. Her wealth of experience and holistic approach allow her to devise innovative approaches for expanding client relationships, attracting lateral talent critical to purposeful growth, and building national, industry-specific brand awareness.

“I am thrilled to be joining Barnes & Thornburg and to be a part of this next chapter in the firm’s long history of exceptional client services,” said Smith. “Even as one of the largest and most sophisticated law firms in the country, Barnes & Thornburg has successfully maintained its ‘Main Street’ approach to client service and culture. I admire the firm’s intentional approach to organic growth, close-knit client service teams, and meaningful investments in its attorneys, clients, and communities. I’m looking forward to maintaining these values while continuing to innovate for clients.” 

In the past two years, the firm has opened offices in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Boston while substantially growing in its Washington D.C., and Delaware offices. The firm also added life sciences-focused locations in Raleigh, Ann Arbor, and Salt Lake City in 2019.

Smith is a member of the Nashville Health Care Council’s Leadership Health Care and the American Health Lawyers Association. She is former chair of the Legal Marketing Association’s Nashville chapter. 



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