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Theodore Goddard has elected a non-lawyer as a chief operating officer (COO) in place of a managing partner
Nigel West, a former banker who currently heads up the firm's banking and projects group, has been elected to replace managing partner Peter Cooke, who steps down at the end of April. The firm will now be run by an as yet unelected five-partner management board and senior partner Paddy Grafton Green, with West acting as a facilitator, carrying out the board's decisions. It is more common for law firms to elect non-lawyers into a chief executive officer (CEO) role, which involves being a leader and a figurehead. Grafton Green said the firm has chosen to go down the COO route to ensure a consensual style of management. "Management will be much more the responsibility of the executive board," he said. "Five partners will be elected. It will not be a policy board in the traditional sense. The board will exercise power the way a CEO would. The COO will carry out what the executive board decides." Grafton Green will carry on with his traditional senior partner duties, looking after the firm's internal and external needs. He will not move into more of a leadership role because of the absence of a managing partner. West's opposition in the election was John Lomas, who would have become the replacement managing partner. Had Lomas been elected, Grafton Green said, things would be very different. "Lomas would have been much more of a leader, like a CEO, and would have exercised more power. The firm obviously wanted a more representative approach," explained Grafton Green. The executive board has yet to be elected. It will comprise a partner from each of the corporate, banking and property departments, a partner to represent litigation and intellectual property and a partner representing the rest of the firm - employment, entertainment, aviation, tax and competition.