Berwin Leighton has elected Neville Eisenberg as its new managing partner, on the eve of a strategy conference that will decide the firm's future direction.
Eisenberg, aged 37, begins his three-year term this month after a handover period. He replaces Bob Jones, who is returning to fee earning after a single term in the job.
Eisenberg beat off competition from one other unnamed partner to win the election, which took place last Monday. Jones did not stand for re-election.
Berwin Leighton is best known for its highly-rated property department but, like Jones, Eisenberg is a partner in the corporate department.
Eisenberg says that this is "just coincidence. It's not evidence of any strategy or policy".
Eisenberg wants to build the corporate side of the business by tapping into the firm's property client base. He says: "That is a good example of something we will be focusing on in the future. We have more opportunities than the average medium-size firm."
The firm's partners are meeting this week to discuss strategy.
Eisenberg says: "It is an exciting time in the market for legal services because everything is changing quickly and the market is consolidating at quite a pace. I hope to keep us ahead of the game."
Asked whether this might involve a merger, he says: "We will continue to look at opportunities as they come up and evaluate them at the time. But we don't have any specific objectives on that front."
But he adds: "When one has a conference and discusses strategy, all views come to the fore."
A former Berwin Leighton partner describes Eisenberg as "very smart, a very able lawyer and a bloody good manager".
Berwin Leighton's chairman, Peter Robinson, says: "In choosing Neville, partners have voted for a partner of vision and determination."
Eisenberg qualified in South Africa and joined Berwin Leighton in 1989, becoming a partner in 1995.