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Changing of the guard at Shakespeares and Shoosmiths with CEO appointments

Regional player Shakespeare Martineau and national firm Shoosmiths have both implemented change at the top with the appointments of new chief executives.

Shakespeares made a rare leadership hire from another firm, bringing on Browne Jacobson chief operating officer Sarah Walker-Smith (pictured) as chief executive. Walker-Smith replaces long-serving chief executive Andy Raynor, who announced his intention to step down earlier this year, at the Midlands firm.

Shakespeare’s senior Partner Andrew Whitehead commented: ‘The appointment of our next CEO comes at a pivotal time for our business, as we look to roll out the next phase of our ambitious growth strategy, building on the strong financial platform which Andy leaves us with.’

The UK top 50 firm recorder turnover of £73.9m for the 2017/18 financial year, up a sluggish 3%. Walker-Smith takes over in February next year, following a process where a number of candidates were considered. She will work alongside the existing leadership team of COO Victoria Tester and chief financial officer Lesley Spencer.

Shoosmiths also announced a new chief executive, with real estate partner Simon Boss replacing Claire Rowe. Boss, who has been at the firm for 14 years, will start his new role from 1 January next year after being elected by the firm’s partnership. Rowe, meanwhile, bows out after a decade at the top of the firm, having been Shoosmiths’ first female chief executive.

Shoosmiths, also a UK top 50 firm, increased revenue 10% to £128m in the most recent financial year. Revenue is up 47% in the last five years.

Firm chairman, Peter Duff, commented: ‘Simon was elected by partner vote and is a worthy candidate to succeed Claire and build upon her achievements as chief executive. He has a proven track record that he can build and lead substantial teams to success and is wholeheartedly committed to leading Shoosmiths on our growth journey. I am very much looking forward to working alongside Simon in his new role at such an important time in the firm’s history.’