Management changes at Slaughter & May have seen the Magic Circle law firm dispensing with its executive partner and practice partner roles, replacing the positions with chief operating officer from outside the firm partnership.
The move echoes what firms are beginning to practice or at least examine as they modernize their management structure to make them more competitive.
The firm is to create a new managing partner role, taking over the practice partner position and key parts of the executive partner position. Elections for the managing partner will be held later this year.
The firm added that despite the changes, the senior partner role — currently held by Steve Cooke — will remain intact.
In order to fulfil the managerial and operational aspects of the executive partner role, the firm has decided to create an additional chief operating officer (COO) position. The COO will work alongside and report to the managing partner and sit on the firm’s partnership board.
To deal withe ‘growth in responsibilities’ of the role, the firm’s partners decided the COO will be a manager who does not come from within the partnership.
“Continuing to deliver the highest quality legal services to our clients and creating an attractive and rewarding place to work for our employees are both critical to our success and we’ve thought carefully about how the executive team roles enable and support this.
“Given the growth in the responsibilities of the executive function, we believe the structure of a managing partner and chief operating officer will bring benefits to our clients and staff alike. David and Paul have done an outstanding job over their respective terms and I’m looking forward to making the most of their support until their retirement in April next year.”
Tony Williams, principal of Jomati Consultants, said: “Taking a partner out of a fee-earning role to fill an executive one can have a high cost for firms like Slaughters, so some firms have stood back and asked themselves whether they have reached a level of complexity on the operational side that merits the creation of a full-time executive role.”