Morton comes out on top in Freshfields’ leadership race

Guy Morton last week won the three-way senior partner race at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer after knocking out his London-based opponents in the first round of the election.

Morton, head of Freshfields’ financial services and regulatory practice, beat Philip Richards and Graham Nicholson to the job last Thursday (15 December).

He will take over the role from senior partner Anthony Salz next year alongside Frankfurt-based co-senior partner Konstantin Mettenheimer, who stood unopposed for his role.

Morton’s victory marks the end of months of uncertainty at the magic circle firm following Salz’s decision to retire earlier this year.

The elections initially attracted six candidates. In addition to Morton, Mettenheimer, Richards and Nicolson, former Paris managing partner Jean-Luc Michaud and corporate partner Barry O’Brien also vied for the position. Last month, however, Michaud pulled out after partners voted to retain the dual senior partner model, as he was the only contender to run as a single senior partner.

Meanwhile, O’Brien withdrew his candidacy last Tuesday (13 December) due to the ongoing Law Society investigation into Freshfields’ conflict of interest during Philip Green’s failed bid for Marks & Spencer (M&S).

As exclusively revealed on www.thelawyer.com (14 December), the Law Society has widened its investigation to include outgoing chief executive Hugh Crisp, former corporate head Gavin Darlington and corporate head Tim Jones.

All four Freshfields partners are alleged to have accepted instructions from Green’s Revival vehicle while in possession of confidential information from M&S. They are also alleged to have failed to carry out proper conflict checks.

Freshfields is believed to be contesting the allegations.