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Former Linklaters global COO to head Baker McKenzie’s London office

Former Linklaters’ global chief operating officer Simon Thompson (pictured) has joined Baker McKenzie’s London office as its new chief operating officer (COO) with effect from August.

Thompson will serve on the firm’s London management committee, led by London managing partner Alex Chadwick.

The new COO will join Bakers from independent legal management consultancy Change Harbour, which he co-founded in 2011 after seven years at Linklaters.   

With responsibility for London operations, he will support the implementation of the firm’s strategy in London, which the firm said included further investment in the firm’s corporate and transactional centres and recruitment of up to 20 transactional partners in London over the next three years, as outlined to Legal Business by Baker McKenzie’s global chair Paul Rawlinson in March

‘We have around 400 lawyers in London but we would want to increase the bench strength in regular M&A, private equity, banking and finance by 10 to 20 partners in two or three years from around 30 at the moment,’ Rawlinson said at the time.

Chadwick told Legal Business that the firm’s London strategy was centred on ‘bolstering our transactional practices with a view to attracting more high-value mandates’.

He added: ‘Simon will play a key operational and delivery role at management committee level as we continue with the strategy implementation.’

The London office, whose revenues jumped 20% to £176m this year, hired partners from Magic Circle firms earlier in the year: David Duncan and Melanie Howard joined the M&A department from Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance respectively in April.

Alex Lewis joined Bakers’private equity team leaving Rope & Gray. Will Holder and Carl Richards also made the move to the firm’s corporate team from Kind & Wood Mallesons at the start of 2017.

The firm also made up 80 new global partners last month, including five in London, as well as electing Matthias Scholz as German managing partner.

Thompson’s career began at British Petroleum where he worked in IT management, before joined Linklaters in 1994. There, he became director of information systems and strategy in 2001 and developed Linklaters’ IT, organisation and governance strategy, before his appointment to COO in 2007.