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A change at the top: Cleary elects Michael Gerstenzang managing partner

Elite New York firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has elected Michael Gerstenzang as its next managing partner.

Gerstenzang (pictured), who has built up a strong fund formation practice in New York, will replace Mark Leddy as leader of the firm in the New Year. Leddy served just five years as managing partner of the traditional Wall Street firm, half that of his predecessor Mark Walker.

Having made partner in 1999, Gerstenzang carved out a hugely successful practice advising buyout, credit and hedge funds. He counts the likes of TPG, KKR, Blackstone and The Raine Group as clients. He will take the helm 24 years after joining Cleary.

Gerstenzang said: ‘Mark has set the standard for excellence during his tenure as managing partner. Under his guidance, the firm has grown thoughtfully, broadening our practice and expanding our global footprint while maintaining our culture, structure and values.’

Leddy added: ‘Michael is a truly accomplished lawyer who deeply values the firm’s founding principles of collegiality, legal excellence and democratic governance. In his 24 years at Cleary, he has consistently demonstrated exceptional character, leadership and intellect. He embodies the internationalism that is at the core of our firm, and he will provide strong leadership as Cleary continues its tradition of innovation in the service of our clients around the world.’

While its Wall Street rivals made rapid advances during the early 2010s, Cleary’s growth has been sluggish during Leddy’s time in charge. The firm, which has grown at less than half the rate of white shoe peer Simpson Thacher & Bartlett over the last five years, suffered a 3% fall in revenue in 2015 to $1.21bn as profit per equity partner slipped 5% to $3.08m.

For more on Manhattan’s elite see: ‘The conservation game – up close with New York’s original inner circle’