In a move that brings its German practice in the spotlight, Hogan Lovells has announced that Hamburg-based Leopold von Gerlach will replace Nicholas Cheffings as chair of the board on 1 May for a three-year term.
A member of the board representing continental Europe since 2014, IP, media and technology partner von Gerlach was voted into the new role by the partnership after the board put forward his name following a firm-wide consultation process. He joined the firm in 1995.
Members of Hogan Lovells’s board make up the compensation committee, which looks after the firm’s annual bonus scheme and reviews equity partners’ remuneration every second year. They are also part of the equity elevation and partner advancement committees, working with the firm’s management on the promotion of associates and counsel to the partnership.
The board provides input to the international management committee and oversees the affairs of the firm, but has no executive responsibility for strategy.
Speaking to Legal Business, Cheffings said von Gerlach had a ‘broad combination of attributes’ that made him the right choice for the role: ‘He has been with the firm for a long time, he understands the culture, he is very focused upon collaboration and people being at the heart of our business – very good with clients.’
Real estate disputes co-head Cheffings was Hogan Lovells’ first post-merger sole global chair, taking over from co-chairs Claudette Christian and John Young in 2012, two years after the merger between Lovells and Hogan & Hartson. He was re-appointed in the role in 2015 and is now stepping down after reaching the maximum two terms set by the firm.
He said his main achievement in his six years as chair was ‘overseeing the transition from a firm which was seen as a new kid on the global block – with a lot of energy and excitement but clearly challenges in terms of delivering on its plans – to what’s now a very mature player and one of the most highly respected global law firms with a very distinct place in the legal market.’
Cheffings will continue to lead Hogan Lovells’ real estate disputes group along with Mathew Ditchburn.
Meanwhile, Travers Smith re-elected David Patient as managing partner after he stood unopposed.
Patient, who will manage the firm for a second three-year term starting on 1 July, told Legal Business: ‘Last year went by in a flash, and politically we seemed to be lurching from one crisis to another but we sailed through it all. Clients were very busy in lots of areas, regulatory has been very busy and disputes has been firing on all cylinders. Private equity and M&A have also been strong.’
He added he was ‘pretty positive’ for the year ahead. ‘There will be some bumps in the road ahead but I’m confident that this year is going to be good in lots of areas.’
Travers-bred corporate lawyer Patient became a partner in 1999, when he established its Paris office, and replaced Andrew Lilley at the helm of the firm in January 2015 . He had previously run for the managing partner role in 2009 losing out to Lilley, who went on to serve a second term in 2012.
The firm’s most recent financial performance showed a 4% rise in revenue to £125m in 2016/17, marking eight consecutive years of growth. But profit per equity partner dropped 4% to £970,000, with Patient saying at the time the firm was ‘right in the middle’ of a period of significant investment .