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Braham wins Freshfields senior partner election with Pugh and Eilers to serve as co-managing partners

After a three-way contest, the front-runners Edward Braham (pictured) and Christopher Pugh have won Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s leadership election with Braham set to serve as senior partner while Pugh will sit alongside Cologne-based Stephan Eilers as joint-managing partner.

Michael Lacovara, who is based in New York, will fill out the team as executive partner and ensures the Magic Circle firm is geographically well spread with leadership drawn from the City, Germany and the US. The firm said that all four will continue client work while both Lacovara and Eilers will spend at least as much time as they do now on fee earning.

Braham will take on the role having joined the firm as a trainee in 1985 and then making partner a decade later. He brings management experience having served as corporate chief from 2009 to 2014 while Pugh was in charge of the firm’s disputes resolution team over the same period.

Eilers is stepping up to the joint managing partner role from his current position as the firm’s executive partner. A tax partner in Cologne, he lead the firm’s tax practice between 2000 and 2005 and then reprised that role from 2008 to 2010. US-partner Lacovara is currently co-head of the firm’s general industries sector group having joined as partner in 2012. Previously, he was partner at Sullivan & Cromwell helping to found its Palo Alto office and then moved to investment bank Sandler O’Neill & Partners as general counsel and co-chief operating officer. 

Braham said: ‘It is a privilege to be elected senior partner and I look forward to working with Chris, Michael and Stephan. Our clients are increasingly turning to the firm for high value advice wherever they need it, especially when the international angle matters. We look forward to continuing to develop the firm in a way that best serves our clients.’

‘I’d like to thank Will, David and Stephan for their outstanding leadership of the firm and for giving us an excellent foundation to build on. I look forward to working closely with them over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition at the end of the year.’

Freshfields veterans Braham and Pugh initially canvassed separately and were set to go head-to-head for the firm’s senior partner elections but the duo united on a single platform. The firm saw three competing tickets formed at hustings at the firm’s partner conference in Paris in May, where teams were pitched to the partnership and were required to receive a minimum 5% of a partnership vote to become an official nominee.

Against the former corporate and disputes leaders was Anglo-German duo, corporate partner Simon Marchant, who ran against Braham for the senior partner seat, alongside Germany and Austria regional managing partner Klaus-Stefan Hohenstatt, for the managing partner position. Another team comprising two German-based partners was also understood to be in the running.

The new leadership will replace current senior partner Will Lawes and managing partner David Aitman who will both stand down at the end of this year. The management handover period will begin in October and will last three months.