Hunton & Williams has taken the unusual step of appointing a new managing partner from outside the firm, luring Diageo North America general counsel Wally Martinez back to the fold to succeed Thurston Moore, who becomes chairman.
Under the new regime, the London office will become the epicentre for the firm's international operations, with its new senior management vowing to create a dominant presence in Europe.
Moore said: "We want to be dominant in the markets where we are and London will be the power centre for our European activities."
He added that there was "a lot of good buzz" about Hunton's London practice, which will continue to be the focus for the firm's international growth. "For a long time we haven't expected that office to be dominant in its market to allow it to build a business, but it remains integral to our strategy," said Moore.
London managing partner Martin Thomas said: "We expect [Martinez] will be a driving force in the firm's continuing global expansion."
As exclusively revealed on www.thelawyer.com (23 February), Martinez, replaces Moore, who has been elected Hunton's chairman after 16 years as managing partner. Martinez, one of the few Hispanics to manage an international firm, was a litigation partner in Hunton's Miami office until late 2004. He said he was genuinely surprised to be approached by the firm to rejoin as managing partner.
Moore said: "I'd always thought of Wally to be my most likely successor, and when we started our succession planning we hoped he could be encouraged to rejoin us."
Hunton has a history of longstanding senior leadership appointments, with former chairman Gordon Rainey serving for 12 years.
Martinez is the sixth managing partner in the firm's 105-year history and the first who will not be based full time at Hunton's Richmond headquarters. Managing partners are appointed by the executive committee.