Lovells partners are bracing themselves for a bitter managing partner fight, with the firm increasingly split on national lines.
In one of the most political management elections the City has seen for years, Frankfurt-based Continental ;Europe ;managing partner Harald Seisler is pitted against London-based incumbent David Harris, with some London partners claiming the former is running his campaign on an anti-London ticket.
One ;London-based partner said: “He’s been trying to set up an opposition between ;London ;and Germany – at the moment Germany’s doing better than London – and there’s mixed feelings about that.”
While ;many ;Lovells partners are remaining tight-lipped about the elections, one source who is close to Seisler indicated that winning over London is not top of the German’s priorities.
“Seisler said he doesn’t need votes in London, other than perhaps 10 or 15,” the source said. “He’s trying to get every vote outside London. That creates the idea of London against the rest of the world.”
But one London partner countered this, saying: “David Harris is helped by the fact that there are more London partners than German partners, though it won’t be a clear split.”
For many in London Seisler’s direct style and strong German accent could count against him.
This has been dismissed by a German source as prejudice on the part of London. “The only reason not to have him as managing partner is because he’s a foreigner. It’s blatant London xenophobia,” the source said.
While there is a feeling that a contested leadership election is bad for the firm as a whole, not all partners believe a rift is being created.
One European partner said: “Should Harald lose the vote I won’t take it as a sign that the firm isn’t ready for someone outside London. Sooner or later it will happen. Whether it’s this time around, I don’t know.”
To read a profile of Harold Seisler, click here.