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Baker & McKenzie has broken with tradition and drawn up a short-list containing external candidates in its search for an Australian managing partner.
The firm has been looking for a successor to the present partner, Paul Malliate, since he announced his resignation this year.
The global practice has earned a reputation for promoting its own staff to senior positions.
But a Baker & McKenzie spokeswoman in Australia says the firm ideally wants to appoint a business manager rather than a lawyer, and that requires looking at external candidates.
She says: "The search we are undertaking is certainly external. We have got it down to a short-listed few.
"The days of law firms being isolated in chambers are historical, particularly as law firms have become so competitive."
The new appointment is expected to be finalised by the end of September.
The Australian firm Minter Ellison has named a new managing partner for its office in Sydney. Alan McArthur will join the practice in September from New Zealand firm Simpson Grierson, where he was managing partner.