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Richard Clark (scroll down for video interview) has been at Slaughter and May for 30 years, but his role in the firm will change significantly when he takes on the role of executive partner early next year.
As of 1 May, Clark will be responsible for the firm’s people, finance, systems and compliance, taking on Graham White’s former mantle until 2017.
That a disputes partner has risen to the top of one of the City’s leading corporate powerhouses will catch the attention of observers, although Clark denies that it is indicative of the growing influence of litigation practices in law firms. Indeed, Clark is replacing a real estate specialist in White.
Clark’s plans for the new role are embryonic. He intends to spend the first six months getting to grips with the job, like any new chief. Given the run-up of the six months that Clark had between the November announcement of his election and the May start, this is effectively a year-long period of learning on the case. He had better be radical or we’ll be very disappointed.
He has vowed to keep his client work ticking over. In the past year, he has acted for Mercer in defence of an ongoing suit brought by Macfarlanes client KFC over pensions-related advice. He also led advice to Telegraph Media Group in connection to the Leveson Inquiry.
Clark was approached several months ago regarding the executive partner job and he won the consensus of the partnership (they don’t do hustings and heated elections at Slaughters). He fits into the Slaughters mould as a charmingly well-spoken gentleman, so no one’s expecting anything but the usual standards from the latest addition to the elite firm’s leadership group.