Slaughter and May corporate heavyweights Michael Pescod and Tim Clark have emerged as the candidates in the running for the coveted position of senior partner.
Giles Henderson is due to step down from the position on 30 April 2001 and the procedure for finding a replacement has already begun.
A nomination process to decide on candidates was completed about three weeks ago, with partners at the firm filling in a list of nominations. Partners must gain a certain amount of nominations and give their consent before the process can move forward.
Senior property partner David Beales and company partner Stephen Powell have been appointed as returning officers. It is their responsibility to chair "slice meetings", where the firm's notepaper is cut up to decide groups of about 20 partners who will meet to discuss the candidates. Beales and Powell are then charged with talking to partners to gain a consensus on which candidate is the favourite to take over the senior position.
If a clear consensus emerges then the other partner will move aside and give their support to the other candidate, although it is possible that partners will be asked to vote through a secret ballot if a clear consensus does not emerge.
Henderson says that the process is very flexible, allowing partners enough time to debate the matter fully. "We've never had a long handover period and do not need one," he says. "It's not as if the new senior partner needs to be taught what the business is about."
Concerning Clark and Pescod, Henderson says: "I think these people are seen as the serious contenders, but this process is not rigid - there's a degree of flexibility in that the partnership can do what it wants when it wants."