Slaughter and May has appointed David Wittmann as the firm’s practice partner with the role’s current holder, partner Paul Olney, stepping down at the end of the year.
Wittmann will be responsible for the firm’s overall practice strategy and development both within the firm and its ‘best friends’ relationships with leading law firms outside the UK.
Slaughter and May has offices in London, Brussels, Beijing and Hong Kong, and Wittman rejects the view that Slaughter and May is a UK focused firm. ‘We operate from four offices,’ he said. ‘The competition like to paint us into a UK domestic firm but a large amount of the firm’s work is international across all out practice areas.’
Wittman told Legal Business that while ‘it will be business as usual’, he will focus on maintaining the firm’s culture. ‘We are not a heavily managed firm, we are a true partnership and this is very central to the way we operate. We don’t direct partners on how to manage their practices but try and build a consensus,’ he said. ‘M&A has been somewhat patchy this year, but we have been busy in disputes, regulatory work, competition and investigations.’
The role, when it goes into effect on 1 January 2015, will see him work closely with senior partner Chris Saul and executive partner Richard Clark. He succeeds Paul Olney who announced previously that he would retire from the firm at the end of 2014, after six years in the role and having been a partner at the firm since 1990.
Wittmann became a partner in 1997, having joined Slaughter and May as a trainee solicitor in 1988. His time at the Magic Circle firm has seen him advise on corporate, corporate finance and private equity work.
Meanwhile, Clifford Chance has re-elected Malcolm Sweeting as senior partner to serve a second four-year term and chair the firm’s Partnership Council. Sweeting said, ‘The legal landscape is not immune to change, and it is clear that our clients are increasingly challenging us to innovate and adapt. It is also clear from discussions with our clients, across sectors and from around the globe, that there are fantastic opportunities for Clifford Chance to support them as they look to achieve their ambitions and navigate this rapidly changing environment.’