Olswang chief Stewart resigns; firm to vote on replacement as IP litigator Burdon named as interim CEO

Olswang’s chief executive David Stewart has stepped down to be replaced by European patent litigation head Michael Burdon with immediate effect.

The firm said in a statement that elections for a new permanent CEO would be held “in due course”.

It is not clear what prompted Stewart’s resignation, or what his next move will be.

Stewart was elected as Olswang’s managing partner in 2007 and became CEO in 2010 (10 March 2010). He was re-elected last year for another three-year term (8 April 2013) amid an overhaul which saw the firm move to a two-pronged management structure (22 April 2013). The restructure put in place an elected board handling stakeholder oversight and an executive decision-making committee chaired by Stewart.

Burdon has taken on the CEO role on the basis that he will continue with his client work.

Olswang chair Dirk van Liederkerke said Burdon would have the board’s “full support” while arrangements were being made for the election of a new CEO.

“In the meantime, the board will continue to oversee the execution of our strategy. We have built an unparalleled TMT practice as well as a commanding reputation for changing the face of business in a wide range of other industries, from real estate to retail and life sciences to leisure. The firm will continue to grow, in line with the investment priorities agreed with the partners,” Liederkerke added.

He thanked Stewart for “all his hard work”.

Earlier this year Stewart spoke to The Lawyer about Olswang’s plans for continued growth and investment (28 March 2014). The firm’s 2013/14 results saw a 7 per cent rise in turnover to £117.6m, but average profit per equity partner (PEP) fell by 3.9 per cent to £490,000 from £510,000 the previous year (4 July 2014).