CC London head options: charmer, assassin or horse?

Peter Charlton is revving up to be Clifford Chance‘s new global head of corporate, but his partners are already starting to ask whether he can really carry on as head of the London office. At the moment there are no plans to elect a London managing partner; yet logic dictates that London – which for historical administrative reasons also includes Dubai – will need its own boss soon.

No soundings have been taken yet, so The Lawyer decided to help things along by doing some of its own.

Three names have emerged. In no particular order, there’s London litigation head Jeremy Sandelson, whose laid-back charm disguises his drive – but only just. And there’s banking man Mark Stewart, internally dubbed the ‘Smiling Assassin’, who could probably do with a new challenge. The dark horse, though, seems to be David Bickerton, the Old Etonian smoothie currently on the partnership council – although Clifford Chance may have to wait till he gets back from sabbatical.

Lawyer MPs woo well

It was a good night for lawyer MPs on Thursday 5 May, with most of those standing in the general election retaining their seats. Just three legal MPs lost their places on those Commons benches last week. The narrowest defeat came for barrister and Labour MP Gareth Thomas, a door tenant at Arden Chambers, who lost his Clwyd West constituency to Tory candidate David Jones by a painful 133 votes.

Fellow Labour MP, solicitor Alan Hurst, found himself ousted from Braintree by Conservative Brooks Newmark. But at least he will have a practice to return to (he’s a partner at Essex firm Law Hurst & Taylor), unlike non-practising Tory solicitor John Taylor, who was ousted by the Liberal Democrats’ Lorely Burt and a 279-vote majority in Solihull.

For the rest of Parliament’s legal minds, it will be business as usual when the Palace of Westminster reopens. And, as ever, chief among the former lawyers will be that pair of barristers, Michael Howard QC and Tony Blair. But for how long?

Shearman is mad on Madden

Less than a week after the shock resignation of Shearman & Sterling senior partner David Heleniak for Morgan Stanley, the search for a successor is on. John Madden, the firm’s co-managing partner, has stepped in to the senior partner role temporarily and sources are tipping him to be appointed permanently. Madden only narrowly missed out on the senior partner post last time round.

The firm’s eight-partner policy committee is now taking soundings on suitable runners and will shortly propose a single candidate for the partnership to vote on. There are mutterings in Europe that perhaps a bit of European dynamism might be just what the firm needs to break out from the lethargy that has afflicted its New York heartland. Four Europeans have been mentioned as possible contenders – London managing partner Kenneth MacRitchie, policy committee member Nick Buckworth, iconic German managing partner Geog Thoma and Paris managing partner Robert Treuhold. Despite this, it seems the Shearman partnership is simply not ready for a non-New York leader. A shame for Europe, but a triumph for Madden, who is widely liked and respected on both sides of the Atlantic.