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Some joy for UK partnership as Hogan Lovells board backs City-based litigation chief as deputy CEO

While missing out on the firm’s top management role, Hogan Lovells’ London office is all but certain to see one of its most prominent partners appointed as deputy leader for the second time in a row.

Two weeks after the board recommended him as the firm’s next chief executive, Asia Pacific head Miguel Zaldivar nominated today (12 December) litigation head Michael Davison (pictured)  as his proposed deputy from July 2020. Both nominations are subject to a confirmatory vote by the partnership later this month.

With Zaldivar relocating to the firm’s Washington DC headquarters, today’s announcement means Hogan Lovells will once again have a US-based chief executive and a UK-based deputy, with the duo  replacing US litigator Steve Immelt and the City’s former finance head David Hudd.

Like Hudd six years ago, Davison had earlier this year put his name forward to become chief executive and was regarded as the strongest among the three London-based candidates due to his global role and profile. The other two City names in the list, UK and Africa head Susan Bright and corporate veteran Peter Watts, were by comparison little known outside the UK.

While candidates are technically not allowed to campaign, it falls to the 12 members of the firm’s board to recommend a name for approval by the partnership following soundings.

A member of the firm’s management committee since 2013, Davison joined the firm in 1986 and is one of its most influential London partners, leading what is arguably one of the most successful practices of the firm globally.

Hogan Lovells’ chair Leopold von Gerlach said the board had been ‘unanimous in supporting Miguel’s choice and is very pleased that Michael has agreed to bring his leadership experience and capabilities to the role of deputy chief executive’.

With Zaldivar having little connection to much of the UK partnership, Davison’s appointment will be welcome as a sign of support for the London office, the biggest of the firm, which since the 2010 transatlantic union of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells has never seen one of its partners take up the sole leadership role.