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Niche firm Maxwell Batley is seizing on the shock departure of its high-profile senior partner as an opportunity to overhaul the firm's management and rejuvenate the business
The partnership moved quickly to appoint a successor to Michael Cassidy just four days after he announced his decision to join DJ Freeman (The Lawyer, 8 July). Property and finance specialist Raymond Levine was the unanimous choice of Maxwell Batley's management committee and was approved by a partnership meeting last Monday. Levine has been a partner since 1975. Levine said that Cassidy's decision to quit the firm after more than 30 years had come as a complete surprise, but added that the partnership had given some consideration to "life after Michael". The firm's senior partner role is a non-executive chairman-like position, while the role of managing partner is delegated to the five-strong management committee made up largely of department heads. But the firm is now taking the chance to review its management. "We want to make the management more inclusive and more responsive to the wishes of other partners. There always needs to be an element of leadership in any management, so we're not adopting a power to the people type policy, but we do want to be a much more listening management team. We want to be very confident that we're driving the firm forward in a way that commands the support of the whole partnership," said Levine. The firm is also planning a series of lateral hires to further develop and rejuvenate the business, and is already talking to a number of people. In particular, it plans to strengthen its corporate, tax and finance capability around the property practice. Property and construction head Nigel Wilson said: "We have the capability, but we feel the need to increase it. We'd also like to strengthen construction, which has been an area of rapid expansion." The firm is proposing exit terms to Cassidy and hopes to agree a departure date shortly. "We don't have gardening leave, but there are covenants about working for our clients, so he is conscious of that," said Levine. The firm is keen to protect its relationships with three key clients which have been particularly close to Cassidy. They are longstanding client Hermes, British Land, of which Cassidy is a non-executive director, and more recent addition Land Securities.