The head of Shearman & Sterling's English law practice Kenneth MacRitchie has been appointed as the firm's new managing partner in London
He has vowed to build up the office's corporate capability. MacRitchie succeeds Pamela Gibson to take charge of the third-largest office of any US firm in London. MacRitchie commented: "I think it makes a statement externally in terms of the profile of our UK practice. Seeing an English lawyer in charge of London is important." The decision will send a signal to the market that Shearman is committed to practising local law. There are more UK than US-qualified lawyers in Shearman's London office, so it made sense to have a UK law partner take the office forward. MacRitchie joins former Clifford Chance colleague Mike Francies, who is managing partner of Weil Gotshal & Manges in London, and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft London managing partner Andrew Wilkinson on the list of UK lawyers who hold senior roles at US firms. MacRitchie said: "My key priority is to push forward from where we've got to by consolidating the practices we have and particularly growing the M&A practice. "We have a small English law M&A capability and we're number two in the M&A league tables. The challenge for us is to grow our English law M&A capability to reflect that position. We've got the profile and the deals, we just need to grow the practice to become really dominant." The English law M&A group presently comprises just one partner, Adrian Knight. MacRitchie said that the plan was to hire laterally an additional four or five M&A partners. To support this prospective M&A group, Shearman has plans to boost its tax and competition capability through recruitment. And the growth plans do not stop there. MacRitchie said: "We need to continue to grow our finance practice and we'll continue to add partners in capital markets and the securitisation group." Gibson, who spent seven years directing the firm's progress in London, will remain in the City and focus on business development. As well as fee-earning, Gibson has the job of raising the firm's profile with its corporate and investment banking clients.