Olswang’s chief executive officer David Stewart has stepped down from his role after seven years leading the firm, either as chief executive or managing partner, and is currently considering his options.
The firm announced this morning that Stewart has stepped down from his chief executive role four years after being elected, with intellectual property specialist Michael Burdon assuming Stewart’s position with immediate effect.
Senior partner Mark Devereux said: ‘David has been doing this for seven years and has taken the decision to step down. He created an incredible legacy and has been in charge of the international strategy – it’s a big job.’
He added: ‘The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, not always planned but these things happen.’
Elected as CEO in 2010, Stewart had previously served as the firm’s managing partner since 2007. It is still unclear as to why Stewart decided to step down, but Devereux did say there was a difference in views on strategy, upgrading elements of the firm, office expansions and firm spending, but he also confirmed there will not be a strategic change following Stewart’s departure.
Stewart’s most recent role also saw him chair the firm’s executive committee and implement its global strategy. In addition, he was a member of Olswang’s litigation and arbitration group having joined the firm as a partner and head of commercial litigation in December 1997. Previously he was a partner at legacy firm SJ Berwin & Co.
Burdon heads the European patent litigation team and is a partner in the intellectual property group. He originally qualified in Australia and has experience of advising businesses on maximising the protection, enforcement and extraction of value from their intellectual rights.
The firm confirmed that its partnership will elect a new permanent CEO with a full partnership vote in due course, and that Burdon will continue his client work while taking on the leadership role.
Olswang board chairman Dirk van Liederkerke said: ‘We are extremely grateful to Michael Burdon for agreeing to step in as CEO. He will have the full support of the board while arrangements are made for the election of a new CEO on a permanent basis.
‘In the meantime, the board will continue to oversee the execution of our strategy. We have built an unparalleled TMT practice as well as a commanding reputation for changing the face of business in a wide range of other industries, from real estate to retail and life sciences to leisure. The firm will continue to grow, in line with the investment priorities agreed with the partners.
‘David has been at the head of the firm for more than seven years and he has done an excellent job implementing the firm’s strategy and managing the business. During David’s tenure as CEO, Olswang has grown successfully, with the firm opening offices in Europe and Asia. He steps down with our deep gratitude for all his hard work and our best wishes for the future.’