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En masse management shakeup at Baker & McKenzie as chairman Eduardo Leite handed a two-year extension

Chairman of the world’s largest law firm Baker & McKenzie, Eduardo Leite, has had his term extended by two years after not being opposed as the firm swaps three of its executive committee.

The two-year extension will take effect at the end of the firm’s annual meeting this week in London, which will be attended by more than 700 partners from the firm’s 77 offices. Leite has been chairman since 2010 and has increased the budget for practices, which predominantly covers the cost of lateral hires, by 10% as he seeks to parachute more dispute resolution and compliance lawyers into the firm’s offices.

Talking to Legal Business, Leite said: ‘We’ll be strengthening areas that clients are insisting more and more that they need our help with. I would put them in three baskets: transactional, dispute resolution, compliance. I see weakness everywhere I go. I see places we need to improve and we need to innovate and keep on filling practice gaps. There are opportunities to grow but we need people on the ground.’

Three of the firm’s eight-person executive committee have stepped down, with M&A partners Koen Vanhaerents in Brussels, Winston Zee in Hong Kong and Phil Suse in Chicago being replaced by Amsterdam-based tax partner Erik Scheer, Hong Kong-based co-chairman of compliance in Asia Gary Seib and Chicago-based head of the firm’s global pharmaceutical & healthcare industry group Mike Wagner.

Meanwhile, executive committee members Bruce Hambrett based in Singapore, Gary Senior in London and Jim Holloway in Toronto are assuming regional chairmanships for Asia Pacific, EMEA and North America respectively while Claudia Prado continues as Latin America chair.

In a wide ranging refresh of its leadership, Baker & McKenzie also made new appointments to head its global capital markets, compliance, dispute resolution, employment, IT, real estate and tax and trade practices.

London litigator Tom Cassels has stepped up to spearhead the firm’s dispute resolution group, overseeing 700 lawyers globally. London-based Harry Small has been replaced as head of Baker & McKenzie’s global technology practice group and is succeeded by Sydney-based Anne-Marie Allgrove.

Other global heads of practice include Mini vandePol, compliance; Guenther Heckelmann, employment; Jose Larroque, real estate; Koen Vahaerents, capital markets; Duane Weber, tax and Edmundo Elias, trade and commerce.