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Gowling WLG appoints corporate partner UK chair as Witts steps down

Gowling WLG has elected a corporate partner chair of its UK LLP, with incumbent Andrew Witts standing down after more than eight years and multiple mergers.

M&A and private equity partner Andy Stylianou (pictured) will become the firm’s chair from May 2020 on a four-year term, the firm said today (12 November). He was already chair of Gowling’s UK partnership’s representative council and a founding member of its diversity forum.

Stylianou assumes the role from Witts, who will return to his fraud and asset recovery practice full-time. This follow’s the firm’s recent launch in Brazil in September, which Witts was closely involved with, and growth in the firm’s international fraud and disputes team.

Witts held the position for many years having been re-elected as chair of legacy Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co in 2015, following on from an initial two-year term after the merger between Wragges and Lawrence Graham (LG) in 2014. Before that, Witts was chairman of LG for three years. WLG merged with Canadian firm Gowlings in 2016.

Stylianou commented: ‘It’s an exciting new role for me – and we’re very ambitious about where the firm is headed. We’ve always been famous for our people, our culture and going above and beyond for clients – and we’re now competing on a much bigger international scale.’

UK chief executive David Fennell added: ‘Andrew has been a huge part of the firm’s success and there’s no one who has put in more travel by planes, trains and automobiles to be there for our clients and our people.  Andy is very much in the same mould.  We’ve known each other for a long time – and he’s a great ambassador for everything we stand for.’

Growth at Gowlings was muted this year, as revenue climbed just 1% to £461.7m, following a strong performance in 2017 which saw a 17% uptick in turnover to £455.5m. Legal Business estimated profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm, which does not report a global PEP figure, was £510,000 last year.

LLP accounts in January showed that revenue and profit at the UK arm of the firm fell in the year to 30 April 2018, however, dropping 5% to £179.9m and 14% to £51.9m respectively. The Canadian combination is structured as a UK company limited by guarantee, with both profits and partnerships kept separate.