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City duo in four-strong group running to replace Leite at helm of global giant Baker & McKenzie

With Eduardo Leite set to step down as Baker & McKenzie‘s global chair at the end of October after six years at the helm, Latin America chair Claudia Prado, London managing partner Paul Rawlinson, EMEA chair Gary Senior and former Paris managing partner Eric Lasry have thrown their hats in the ring to take the top job at the firm.

Leite, who was elected to the role in 2010, had the option to stay on as global chair for between two and four years when no opposition emerged for the global chair role when his previous term expired in 2014. However, he is to step down by the end of October after the first year of his extension saw revenues down 4% to $2.43bn and profits sink 12% to $799m. With last year’s performance, which covered the 12 months up to the 30 June, largely blamed on currency movements and the US dollar having strengthened further against most currencies during the first eight months of its current financial year, some Bakers partners are expecting another year of falling revenues before Leite departs.

Prado, who is very highly regarded internally, is the first woman in the running for global chair at Bakers since Christine Lagarde, who led the firm for five years from 1999. With Leite the first chair of an international law firm to hail from Brazil, Prado would make herself the second if she were to succeed her compatriot at Baker & McKenzie. Prado joined Brazilian law firm Trench, Rossi e Watanabe in 1985 and became a partner seven years later. (Bakers has a cooperation agreement in place with Trench, Rossi e Watanabe.)

Senior, arguably the most experienced of the four, became EMEA chair in 2014 after a decade long stint as London managing partner. He is respected for his role in building up the firm’s relationships with FTSE clients during his time as London managing partner but is seen as a continuation of what has gone before.

Rawlinson, Senior’s successor as London managing partner, played a key role in executing the FTSE strategy after building a strong relationships with the likes of Unilever and British American Tobacco.

The race to succeed Leite is the second global chair election entered by Lasry after running against the Brazilian in 2010. The former managing partner of the Paris office, Lasry is a member of the firm’s executive committee and chairman of the European Regional Council.

Leite said: ‘We have a fantastic and diverse pool of candidates for our next chairman, which is the result of careful succession planning, something we have done well at Baker & McKenzie. It’s an internal process and when we are ready to formally announce the successful nominee we will communicate externally. This should be by the time of our October annual partnership meeting. Until then we will not be commenting further.’