Lawes wins Freshfields senior partner race

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has elected former financial institutions co-head Will Lawes as its next senior partner, replacing incumbents Konstantin Mettenheimer and Guy Morton as the sole holder of the role.

Will Lawes
Will Lawes

Lawes, who stood against chief executive Ted Burke, was confirmed as the firm’s choice today following a partner vote. Burke remains as chief executive, an agreement Lawes was keen to establish before agreeing to throw his hat into the ring (15 September 2010), although his title has been changed to managing partner.

Cologne-based global tax head Stephan Eiler, who would have been managing partner if Burke was senior partner, becomes executive partner.

Lawes said of his appointment: “I am not only delighted but immensely privileged to be taking on the senior partner role.  With Ted and Stephan, we have a team that is very international in its outlook and has a broad mix of skills.  On top of our management responsibilities, we will all spend a substantial amount of time maintaining close contact with our clients around the world to ensure we are the firm they turn to when it matters most.”

Burke added: “I am looking forward to continuing to be part of our leadership team as we deal with a new set of challenges and opportunities.”

Lawes, who had been favourite to win the senior partner race, has long been touted as a future leader of the magic circle firm.

Having co-led the financial institutions group (FIG) for six years, as well as running the London FIG practice, Lawes was tipped to become the firm’s global head of corporate in 2009 (20 July 2009). When Mettenheimer and Morton instead chose Ed Braham for that role (31 July 2009), it was taken as a sign that Lawes was being groomed for a firmwide rather than practice group management role.

While the senior partner position has been held by two people since the 2000 merger of legacy firm Freshfields with Germany’s Deringer Tessin and subsequently Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Loeber, the decision was taken earlier this year that the post should be filled by a single person going forward (23 April 2010).