Richard J. Bliss – Godfrey & Kahn
Attorney Richard J. Bliss knows how to make a graceful exit.
An avid fan of the performing arts and supporter of the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, he has an appreciation for the phrase “exit stage left.”
After 15 years as the managing partner at Milwaukee-based Godfrey & Kahn, Bliss stepped down in mid-January to lead the firm’s client relations efforts.
“This is a business that needs fresh blood from time to time,” he said. “I don’t consider myself all that old, but it’s time for younger leadership to step in.”
During his tenure as head of the firm, Bliss, 60, was known for his exuberance and optimism, especially during the recent recession, which took its toll on many firms and practice areas.
As the person attorneys and staff look to for answers during a time of crisis, Bliss said the least productive thing to do is panic.
Rather than issue mandates as the managing partner, his philosophy was to listen and serve.
“Attorneys aren’t looking for you to give orders, they want you to help them succeed,” Bliss said.
To that end, Bliss said he had the easiest managing partner job of anyone he knew. But just because he is leaving the spotlight doesn’t mean he has taken his final bow.
While the managing partner role has commanded his attention since 1995, he is looking forward to getting back to his roots at the only firm he has ever worked for.
Bliss joined Godfrey & Kahn immediately after graduating law school in 1976 and focused his practice on corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and business planning.
“My generation is probably the last to go to a firm and stay with it,” he said. “You don’t see much of that anymore.”
Beyond his rejuvenated practice, Bliss keeps a busy schedule outside of the office including involvement in the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee.
He serves on the Board of Directors for the organization which provides constructive social activities for children and adults on Milwaukee’s west side.
“I’m amazed by what they do there,” Bliss said. “My wife and I have been involved there and it’s among the most satisfying things we’ve ever done.”