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Davies Arnold Cooper's managing director has been voted out in favour of the firm's highly-rated head of construction and engineering.
Daniel Gowan is taking over from Nick Sinfield, who held the post as managing director for one year, and DAC executive partner for two years.
The title of the top role will switch from managing director to executive partner in a U-turn in DAC's management approach to a more collegiate style.
The change in management coincides with the setting up of a management board which was also voted in by DAC partners, in the firm's first ever democratic selection process.
DAC's new board is made up of head of property Robert Lee on the non-contentious side and partner Richard Highly who is representing the firm's salaried partners.
Operations director David Hertzell is now the operations partner on the board since winning a contested vote after one other partner stood against him.
Sinfield has also won a place on the board advising on a number of matters including corporate risk. He will also continue his role as head of insurance.
Commenting on his removal from the post, which was announced internally on 17 March, Sinfield says: "I actually encouraged Danny to stand for the job."
Sinfield adds that he was hoping he would be challenged for the role. "I feel that it does not give an individual empowerment if only one individual stands," he says.
Sinfield says that it was decided when he took the post as managing director that he would only serve for 12 months.
Gowan says: "It is a change in the sense that we now have a democratic process."
Gowan says the change in title from managing director to executive partner was decided after a consultation with the firm's partners. "It reflects that we are a partnership rather than a corporate organisation," he says.
In an interview with The Lawyer last February, Sinfield said the decision to change the title of managing partner to managing director reflected the fact that the firm was going to be run as a business.
Sinfield steps down after a period of frenetic activity at the firm which included making 90 people redundant from its Manchester office.
Gowan says: "I think he has done an excellent job in difficult circumstances."
1999: A Year of Despair
February: Around 90 staff axed and the Manchester corporate department closes.
March: Construction team quits for Hammond Suddards followed by IT/IP partner Andrew West.
Head of IT Maurice Millen quits to join Macfarlanes to head its team.
May: DAC closes its Manchester property unit.
June: DAC seeks to open two offices in the South.
The London-based IP team quits to join Henry Hepworth.
Three litigation partners go to Beachcroft Wansbroughs.