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London head Rawlinson takes chair post at global giant Baker & McKenzie

Baker & McKenzie has appointed its first British chairman with London head Paul Rawlinson winning an election to replace current chair Eduardo Leite.

Joining the firm in 1986, Rawlinson (pictured) made partner in 1996 and has served as London head for the past three years. The IP lawyer currently sits on Baker & McKenzie’s policy committee and has previously led the firm’s global IP practice group for six years from 2004 to 2010.

Rawlinson won the role, edging out competition from Latin America chair Claudia Prado, EMEA chair Gary Senior and former Paris managing partner Eric Lasry who also put their names up for the top job.

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. Baker & McKenzie said a sucessor to the London office head role would be appointed in September.

The global chair elect said: ‘I look forward to building on the great work of Eduardo and his predecessors to continue to reinforce Baker & McKenzie’s position as the premier global law firm.’

Rawlinson will take up the role on October 23 following the firm’s annual meeting in Barcelona, replacing Eduardo Leite who was elected to the role in 2010. When his previous term ended in 2014, Leite had the option to stay on as global chair for between two and four years as there was no opposition. Leite 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.

However under Rawlinson’s management, London revenue at the firm rose 9% in the same period to £145m, as the firm’s City headcount remained flat.