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Who are the world leaders in the international law firms?

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Being appointed the head of a large firm is the greatest recognition a lawyer can have

It is in their offices that the most important decisions about the strategies and operations that the large firms of the world must follow are made. They are the top managers of the most important firms by turnover who, always supported by the rest of the management, and have behind them teams of sometimes thousands of lawyers.

Among the elite, there is currently only one Spanish lawyer. This is Luis Fernando Guerra, who leads Deloitte Legal not only in Spain, but also in the rest of the world. However, it was Juan Picón who was the first Spaniard to head a global law firm, as he was the worldwide co-managing partner of DLA Piper before joining Latham & Watkins to boost its Madrid office.

Reaching the top is not easy, but there is no doubt that it is the perfect end to a career in which they have had to prove not only that they are brilliant lawyers, but also that they have other skills: leadership, communication skills, people skills or teamwork, as bicephalic skills are increasingly common at the top of firms. The formulas are varied, as some firms, such as DLA Piper, Eversheds Sutherland or Watson Farley Williams, have two managing partners, while others, such as Allen & Overy or Linklaters, prefer to divide responsibilities between their senior partners and their managing partners.

In any case, the size of large firms is forcing them to share power. With offices on every continent, it is even common to have a territorial distribution in which, although there must be a consensus in strategic decision-making, each of the directors is responsible for one part of the world.

Although it is normal for global managing partners to complete one or two four- or five-year terms, there are cases of true veterans. These include David Kerr, who has been supported by Bird & Bird partners since 1996, and Stephen Brogan, managing partner of Jones Day since 2002.

A year of changes

In 2020, the mandate of several of the world's leaders ends, so it is expected to be a busy year with different open electoral processes.

Hogan Lovells is the only one who, now, is clear about who will be leading the firm from July 1st. This is Miguel Zaldívar, the current partner responsible for Asia Pacific and the Middle East who, at the end of 2019, was approved by the other partners to be the new CEO.

For Allen & Overy this week will be key. Today he will announce the name of his senior partner as of May 1, a position that Wim Dejonghe hopes to repeat. In addition, this Thursday will see the election of the managing partner, a position held by Andrew Ballheimer, who has already announced that he is retiring from the firm. In principle, also ends the mandate in 2020 of Jane McCornick at the head of the legal and fiscal part of KPMG; Mark Rigotti, in Herbert; Michael Chissick, in Fieldfisher; or David Pollitt, in DAC Beachcroft, amongst others.

You can see the full article in Expansión.

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