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DAVID Slade, head of shipping at City firm Stephenson Harwood, will take over as senior partner when Anthony Isaacs retires in May next year.
Slade has been with the shipping department since its creation 10 years ago, helping to establish it as one of the major international shipping law practices.
He was responsible for strengthening the department last June with the transfer of eight lawyers from Sinclair Roche Temperley's shipping team.
The corporate structure of the firm means that Slade's role as senior partner will be to act as a supervisor to the chief executive who is involved in the day-to-day decision making of the firm.
"The role of senior partner no longer involves being the big chief. I hope to be a unifying influence in the firm. Departments these days expect to be able to make their own decisions," said Slade.
Slade hopes to influence the growth of the firm abroad. It already has connections in Southern Africa, Hong Kong, Brussels and Madrid.
He said: "We want to extend our work in these areas. I am particularly interested for us to make use of opportunities in Eastern Europe and Russia. I think the international connections I have made through my shipping connections are why I was made senior partner."