Official candidate unveiled for Shearman top job

New York capital markets rainmaker Rohan Weerasinghe has emerged as the official candidate for Shearman & Sterling’s forthcoming senior partner elections.

At the same time, the firm is poised for a radical shake-up of its management structure with London managing partner Kenneth MacRitchie earning a place on the executive group for the first time.

The firm’s policy committee announced the proposals last night following almost a month of discussions with partners. The committee has been taking soundings on the senior partner post since this month’s shock resignation of senior partner David Heleniak, who quit the firm to join Morgan Stanley.

The executive group will be expanded to comprise co-managing partners and existing members Georg Thoma and John Madden, as well as new additions Linda Rappaport, MacRitchie and non-lawyer Kim Gardner.

Rappaport, who heads up the firm’s employee benefits practice, sat on the policy committee until earlier this month when her term expired.

Shearman partners welcomed the proposals for offering “energy, new blood and something for everyone.”

The appointment of iconoclastic London managing partner Kenneth MacRitchie will be welcomed in Europe but may ruffle some feathers in New York. However, the New York based Weerasinghe, who is close to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, is considered the ideal choice to reinvigorate the firm’s stateside operation. Weerasinghe is believed to be the first non-white senior partner at a top New York firm.

While it is still open for other candidates to contest the election, sources at Shearman consider it extremely unlikely that other contenders will emerge.

The election is set to take place on 8 June.