News Releases
May 21, 2024

Meet the New Managing Partner: James Kitces, Robins Kaplan


James Kitces was recently named Managing Partner of BBA Sponsor Firm Robins Kaplan LLP. We caught up with James to learn more about his new role, his advice to new lawyers in Boston, and more. Check out the full interview below:


Boston Bar Association: What inspired you to become a lawyer and follow the career path you did?

James Kitces: My uncle is a leading lawyer in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He has been a mentor to me since I was young and I admire the practice he built and the respect he earned among his peers, adversaries, and the judiciary. As it turns out, he handled Dalkon Shield cases with Robins Kaplan in the ’80s. So, in 2005, when the firm had an opening for an associate position in the Atlanta office, he said, “Go for it.” I’m glad I listened.

BBA: What has been your most memorable moment as a lawyer in your career thus far?

Kitces: Is it okay if I pick three? Representing the State of Georgia as an assistant attorney general in courtrooms throughout the state was both rewarding and humbling. I began working at the Attorney General’s Office right after law school and assumed a full caseload, replete with depositions, hearings, and trials. On the pro bono front, our office began an initiative representing children in abuse and neglect cases. Of course, these are difficult cases, and I hope we made an impact on our clients through our work. And most recently, assuming the managing partner role in the Boston office of our firm stands out.  Our prior managing partner, Tony Froio, led our office for 20 years in an exemplary fashion.  Tony is now our firm’s Managing Partner and Chair of the Executive Board. I am proud to succeed him in this role.

BBA: What is your vision for the firm over the next 5-10 years?

Kitces: Our firm has a rich history of taking on challenging cases and achieving landmark results. My vision is to continue this history and expand on it in Boston and nationally. Robins Kaplan is a creative firm, and it is important to remain at the forefront as technology changes our society. I believe we need to continue to strengthen and grow our wide-ranging practice areas. We also need to continue to promote diversity across our ranks. Lastly, we should continue to focus on empowering and promoting our younger attorneys as the next generation of leaders and business generators.

BBA: What are some of the biggest challenges ahead for the legal profession?

Kitces: Any profession has challenges, and the legal profession is no exception. But these challenges are also opportunities. It sounds cliché, but our Boston office is built on a strong culture, which the founding partners of our office have emphasized and cultivated for decades. With remote work and increased flexibility, maintaining culture, providing mentorship, and creating an inclusive environment looks different than five years ago. Also, while there has been an increase in demand for legal services, the current larger economic picture, including high inflation, poses challenges. Law firms must remain competitive and innovative in the marketplace. Finally, and this is not unique to our profession, cybersecurity threats involving the legal profession are constant and evolving.

BBA: What makes Robins Kaplan stand out?

Kitces: Robins Kaplan is unique. It began with two lawyers in Minneapolis in 1938 who couldn’t get jobs elsewhere because of discrimination and has grown to a national litigation powerhouse. Our practice truly is diverse. We represent plaintiffs in mass tort, medical malpractice, and other business cases, and we represent companies in sophisticated litigation ranging from intellectual property to insurance coverage to class actions. Robins Kaplan is known for extensive trial experience. The firm has a track record of taking cases to trial and securing favorable outcomes for our clients, earning a reputation for being trial-ready and adept in the courtroom. We approach each case with an eye toward trial, and staff each case accordingly. Given the nature of our practice, we also prioritize alternative fee arrangements, granting clients access to trial opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. We empower young lawyers by actively involving them in cases, offering meaningful participation in trial proceedings from start to finish.

Our Boston office is special. We operate like a family, with credit to our office’s founders, who were active members of our office for decades since its inception.

BBA: What advice do you have for new lawyers entering the Boston legal profession today?

Kitces: Find mentors, both in your workplace and elsewhere, and strengthen those relationships. Mentorship is critical, especially in our post-COVID world. I am fortunate to have had great mentors – outside of work, Lee Horowitz and Herb Blumenfeld, two of the greatest guys in the world, are at the top. Along my journey at Robins Kaplan, I owe much to tremendous attorneys like Dennis Withers, who instilled the lessons of the utmost professionalism and gentility with zealous advocacy; Bill Stanhope, insurance coverage extraordinaire; and Tony Froio, who brings remarkable leadership, energy, and passion for the firm and our clients.

I would also encourage newer lawyers to ask their clients and colleagues what success will look like at the outset of a particular matter. The answer may be surprising.

Lastly, take advantage of the tremendous learning and networking opportunities that the many bar associations and other organizations in our city offer. As a lawyer, you are constantly learning and evolving. Boston gives us many opportunities to interact and share ideas with other lawyers, judges, and professionals.

BBA: How has the Boston Bar Association helped you and your firm, and how do you envision that partnership moving forward?

Kitces: The Boston Bar Association has been instrumental in connecting us with attorneys in the greater Boston area and fostering a legal community that aligns with our firm’s values and mission. The BBA’s dedication to ensuring access to legal aid for all and promoting diversity mirrors our firm’s commitment to justice, equality, and community service. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the BBA to advance these shared goals and make a positive impact in Boston and beyond.

BBA: You’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to pro bono work and public service. Could you share a bit more about that?

Kitces: As I mentioned, along with others, I have represented children in various types of cases and served as a board member of the Truancy Intervention Project of Georgia. The pro bono tradition at Robins Kaplan is longstanding. Our program prioritizes empowering underrepresented communities and championing social justice causes. We partner with more than 60 nonprofit organizations across the country in representing a wide variety of clients. We provide representation to individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries and violence in their homes. We have prevented homelessness and unjust incarceration, protected wilderness beauty, and removed barriers to obtaining employment and housing. As a firm, we also put our money where our mouth is – associates get pro bono credit toward their billable hours goal. In the past 15 years, 5% of our total attorney billable time has been contributed to pro bono work.

BBA: What would you be if you weren’t a lawyer?

Kitces: That’s easy—a sportswriter. Since an early age, I’ve loved talking and writing about college and pro sports. I could go on and on for hours. Perhaps I was destined to move to Boston. Growing up in Virginia without an NBA team, I fell in love with the Bird-McHale-Parish Celtics. Almost every day I would wear green Celtics gear. I memorized their stats and watched as many games as I could. To my parents’ consternation, my bedroom walls were covered with Celtics posters. My wife is from Boston and while we were in college in Atlanta, she noticed the personalized license plate on my car – “BGAHDEN.” She felt the need to introduce herself and the rest is history.

BBA: When a client comes to Boston and they aren’t familiar with the city, where do you like to take them?

Kitces: First, I’d recommend they check out our newly renovated office at the Prudential Center. It’s a spectacular high-tech space ideal for meetings and the like. There are many fantastic restaurant options in the Back Bay, but nothing beats barbecue at Sweet Cheeks followed by a game at Fenway.