Freshfields senior partner race begins as Morton and Mettenheimer step down

Konstantin Mettenheimer and Guy Morton have decided not to seek third terms as joint senior partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, opening the way for an election campaign in the autumn.

Mettenheimer (pictured) has held the posts since the 2001 merger between Freshfields and Germany’s Deringer Tessin and subsequently with Bruckhaus Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Loeber.

He was re-elected in 2005, when Morton was elected for the first time, and although the magic circle firm’s governance precludes them standing for a third time Mettenheimer was offered the chance to waive the rule.

“It’s not been an easy decision,” said Mettenheimer. “I thought long and hard about it, but I decided this is the perfect moment to go.

“These 10 years have been great. We’ve been through good economic times, we’ve been through a recession and through a merger. But we’re leaving the firm in good shape.”

The firm is yet to decide whether it will continue having a joint senior partner or instead opt for one lawyer to take on the role.

Mettenheimer said: “We’re thinking about whether it’ll be two or one, but we’re keen to still have an international mix.”

The pair’s term will end on 31 December this year, with the election for a successor due to take place in late September or early October. Nominations are scheduled for late summer, with candidates for the first time issuing manifestos before hustings are held at September’s partnership retreat.

Partners thought likely to throw their hats in the ring include London-based corporate finance chief Barry O’Brien and co-head of the firm’s global financial institutions group William Lawes.

From the German side of the business names in the frame include corporate partners Andreas Fabritius and Ludwig Leyendecker and tax partner Stephan Eilers.

Mettenheimer confirmed that he will continue working at the firm as a fee earner after he stands down from the top job at the end of the year.

He added: “I’m 54 now, 55 at the end of the year, and I want to work here until I’m 65.”

Ted Burke’s term as chief executive and Peter Jeffcote’s as managing partner will also come to an end this year, though unlike the senior partner position, their successors will be decided by the senior partner elect and the firm’s partnership council.