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Clifford Chance is on the brink of crowning a new managing partner as the vote draws to a close today (26 November).
The race to replace outgoing head David Childs began this month when global corporate head Matthew Layton, Paris chief Yves Wehrli and real estate finance partner Andrew Carnegie emerged as the three candidates for the top job (28 October 2013).
Childs will stand down in May 2014 after two terms at the helm (3 December 2009) and Layton has widely been seen as the front-runner. A source said: “People have been keeping their cards close to their chests but the expectation was that Matthew would win as he’s probably the most known candidate.”
As head of corporate, Layton has a reach into Asia as well as other key jurisdictions and is widely seen as a “safe pair of hands” and a natural successor to Childs.
But a source said: “I just don’t know…I think it might be closer.”
The other two candidates are believed to be a bigger departure from the current leader. Carnegie is said to be the most dedicated to change of the three, with a presentation focused on harder work and innovation.
“Andrew has very strong views,” a source said, “he thinks we can always be doing a lot better than we are doing.”
Meanwhile Wehrli received plaudits as “the most charismatic of the three”. He was appointed manager of the Paris office in 1999, marking the first Frenchman to head up the office (12 June 1999).
The hustings process for the vote began at the beginning of the month and ended mid November. The contenders have been touring the firm’s jurisdictions to present their cases to partners, giving presentations in Hong Kong, Paris, New York and Frankfurt as well as London.
The vote comes after news that David Bickerton is running unopposed for a second term as London managing partner (12 November 2013).