Simmons chief job in doubt

Simmons & Simmons has brought forward the next election for its chief executive, amid growing speculation about the future of current post-holder, Alan Morris.

Morris told The Lawyer that the firm had decided to go back to holding the election for the three-year post at the end of the financial year in April, rather than the end of the calendar year.

By bringing forward the election date, Morris said, the next chief executive would have more time to address “important issues” such as millennium bug compliance and the firm's planned move to new premises.

Morris refused to comment when asked about City speculation that he would not be offering himself up for re-election.

“We never discuss candidates,” he said. He added that the process to elect a new chief executive had not yet started, he added.

Morris – who in January 1997 became the first non-lawyer to be appointed to a top job at a big City law firm – has been heavily involved in implementing a controversial restructuring at the firm.

Simmons is planning to convert salaried partners to equity status and also to introduce a new performance-related element to its pay structure.

But the firm has been hit by a number of high-profile departures.

Only last month three partners, including corporate rainmaker William Charnley, left to open a London office for US firm McDermott Will & Emery, while another corporate partner, Mark Carroll, announced that he would be joining Clifford Chance.