Commercial City firm Wedlake Bell has elected a new managing partner and created a new non-fee-earning role of chief executive to implement firm strategy.

Commercial property partner Philip Matthews will take over as managing partner in April 2008 from Julian Cuppage, who has led the firm for 10 years. Wedlake is still looking for someone to fill the chief executive post.

Matthews said it was a privilege to have been elected managing partner and that the creation of a chief executive position was part of the firm’s growth strategy to increase fee-earning capacity. “To do that, we felt it was essential to take on a chief executive to support the managing partner, which turned out to be me,” he added.

The firm has recruited 10-15 fee-earners across the board and wants to see the size of the corporate practice “double very quickly” from four partners and seven assistants, explained Matthews.

The recruitment drive hit last year’s profit slightly, notwithstanding increased turnover, but the firm’s half-year figures showed a rise in turnover by 18 per cent on the same period last year and Matthews was optimistic about profitability thus far.