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Simmons & Simmons head of employment Janet Gaymer has been put forward as the potential successor to Bill Knight as the firm's next senior partner.
If she wins an election, which is planned for the spring, she could become the only female senior partner at a top 20 City firm.
The choice of Gaymer, one of the firm's pre-eminent client winners who was key in bringing in numerous lucrative clients, would break with the Simmons tradition of choosing a corporate partner for the role.
Knight will complete his five-year term at the end of August and has opted for early retirement. Soundings are currently being taken from partners to find candidates in preparation for an election in the spring.
Gaymer says she would not refuse the role. "I'm always up for a challenge, but to be honest who knows? There's already been a lot of speculation and it would be a very brave person who anticipated the result," she says.
Other partners in the running are understood to be litigation partner Philip Vaughan, head of corporate finance Stuart Evans and head of intellectual property Kevin Mooney.
Well-placed partners within the firm confirm that it would be ridiculous for Gaymer not to be under serious consideration for the job. One says: "I don't think it's essential that it's someone from corporate or finance if everything else is right."
Gaymer was instrumental in bringing in last year's high-profile work for the New Millennium Experience Company, where the firm was instrumental in convincing the client to keep the Millennium Dome open (The Lawyer, 11 September 2000).
Gaymer's other clients include Deutsche Bank, The Daily Telegraph and The Ministry of Defence. Knight declined to comment on his successor.