Morgan Cole in chairman showdown

Morgan Cole partners have just a few days left to choose their next chairman

Three candidates are understood to be in the running to replace incumbent John Cole, whose three-year term was extended to the end of the financial year.

The candidates are believed to be corporate/corporate finance partner Graeme Guthrie, health and safety and environmental litigation partner Robin Havard and commercial litigator Allan Wilson.

Head of client services Bleddyn Rees was widely tipped for the post, but it is understood that he opted out of the running because he has been charged with ramping up the firm's London business.

The election comes at a crucial time in the firm's development. Longstanding chief executive David Main resigned at Christmas, having failed to resolve key problems such as low profitability and high partner turnover. There are no immediate plans to appoint a new chief executive.

Significantly, all three candidates for the role of chairman come from the Morgan Bruce side of the 1998 merger. Only 11 of the original 35 Cole & Cole partners at the time of the merger are still with the firm.