Eduardo Leite is set to be re-appointed as chairman of Baker & McKenzie after the law firm regained its title as the world’s largest law firm. Leite, who took charge of the firm in 2010, faced no opposition for the post and partners at the firm understand his re-election will be a mere formality.
His next term is expected to be passed by partners during the firm’s upcoming annual meeting in London in October. Baker & McKenzie typically look to extend leadership positions on a rolling basis, with Leite set to stay on as chairman for between two and four further years. Should he see out the full four years, Leite will become the firm’s longest serving chairman in recent history, with previous incumbent John Conroy having served a four-year term and a two-year extension that ended in 2010 and the firm’s most famous alumni, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, having headed the firm for five years until 2004. A partner familiar with the matter told Legal Business: ‘There is no fixed term but everyone is happy with Eduardo and no challengers have emerged.’
Leite has overseen a period of rapid international expansion at Baker & McKenzie, opening nine new offices in four years, with the firm having launched in Doha, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Lima, Seoul, Dubai, Yangon and Brisbane. This compares to the decade before which saw the firm open in just two new locations.
Despite increased fee pressure following the global financial crisis, revenue has risen 21% from $2.1bn to $2.54bn during Leite’s time at the helm, making it the first law firm to cross the $2.5bn threshold. Profits have also risen by 13% to $910m and the number of lawyers crossed the 4,000 barrier to reach 4,245.
Leite, who became the first Latin American to be elected chairman of an international law firm in 2010, was selected last year by the Obama Administration to also serve a three-year term on the US-Brazil CEO Forum.
John Leadley, who heads Baker & McKenzie’s product and operational risk group in London and manages the dispute resolution department, told Legal Business: ‘Eduardo is very popular within the firm and has overseen international growth and a rise in revenue. London, which is the firm’s biggest office, continues to be busy.’