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“No lawyer with a U.S. firm would dream of giving up his practice while being managing partner” says Kurt Wimmer. Wimmer recently relocated from the Washington headquarters of Covington & Burling to its London office and he manages it jointly with Olga Hartwell. “Don’t do it,” says Richard Gerstein, who was managing partner of Finers Stephens Innocent for nearly three years. Duane Wall has recently been appointed as managing partner for London’s White & Case, one of the largest international firms, with about 1,000 lawyers in its 38 offices worldwide. He says: “We have just changed our management structure because it was too difficult for our managers to practice and manage.” “I will manage more or less full-time. The executive partners in each of our offices do still practice and manage at the local level but I think even this will change as our offices expand.” Size is definitely a factor but not necessarily a determining one according to David Clossey, who oversees the international practice of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. The firm has a total of 1,300 lawyers in its 23 offices. “I continue to represent clients about half of my time and would not want to lose touch with the business,” he says. Clossey says that even Patrick McCartan, the managing partner firm-wide, continues with his litigation practice. Clifford Chance is currently the world’s largest law firm. Peter Charlton has been managing partner of the London office since the beginning of the year, having been head of the firm’s corporate practice. He says: “This year only 20 percent of my time has been spent on chargeable work as opposed to 50 percent when I managed the corporate group. “There is no reason why one should not be able to re-establish client relationships after a management tenure.” Charlton admits this is more difficult if fee-earning work is totally given up but says: “It will be a challenge but you can work at it.” Robert Bostrum is the managing partner of Winston & Strawn’s New York office. He says: “It is not a lifetime job — you need to continue to keep a finger in client relationships and knowledge of the substantive law.” David Gordon, who heads up the New York office of Latham & Watkins, echoes this. “I don’t plan to stop practicing law. The firm is going to want a turnover in management and I will want to keep a practice.” Gordon does admit that having a full time practice and managing is very difficult. He also thinks it is important for a managing partner to obtain and keep the respect of the younger lawyers as well as his or her peers and the more senior lawyers. “People will respect a functioning lawyer.” Gerstein says that both he and his clients suffered while he was managing partner. “I passed some of my clients on to other partners.” “As a result of this and the fact that I was unable to give full-time input I lost some.” Scott Smith is head of corporate for Covington & Burling and is on the executive committee of the firm. HOURS He says: “Part of management is being a lawyer. Some, but not many, U.S. managing partners will give up their practice.” He admits it is not easy but he says; “U.S. lawyers in general work many more hours. “The people who run the best firms will typically work 3,000 hours a year of which half to two-thirds will be billable.” Charlton, of Clifford Chance, disagrees: “I think this is a misnomer and that U.K. lawyers work just as hard as their U.S. counterparts. The client demands the service.” Bostrum, of Winston & Strawn, says: “Being a managing partner can be a job to retirement.” “The managing partner in each of our local firms still practices but the overall managing partner who is 57 years old doesn’t.” Age is not a deciding factor in the case of Bob Link who is managing partner of the New York office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. The firm has 400 lawyers in its four offices and is essentially a financial services boutique. It is one of the oldest law firms in the U.S., with a very young professional staff. The average age of the partners is 41, and Link is probably not much older. He says: “I have been managing partner for about four years and stopped fee-paying work about six months ago.” Link claims he is still very much involved in client relationships and he remains chairman of the firm’s capital markets group. Cadwalader lists all the large investment banks among its clients and generates between 30 and 40 percent of its revenue through fixed-fee income. The nature of Link’s practice does not interfere with his management role as much as another might. It is not dissimilar to that of Duane Wall at White & Case, who still maintains part of his bank advisory practice. U.S. firm Buchanan Ingersoll opened a London office at the beginning of this year. Barry Francis is managing partner and is building up the firm’s corporate and biotechnology practices in Europe. He says: “Obviously as a start-up year I have spent and would have expected to spend a large amount of time recruiting on a personal level.” “As we grow, I will be able to delegate the practical aspect of recruitment to the relevant department head.” Francis anticipates his management time will reduce from 70 to 50 percent of his total working hours. He also has his own philosophy on the whole business of being a managing partner. “The firm is your client so you must balance the interests of the firm with those of your other clients rather than sideline the management role and business.” Size of firm, the individual’s age and practice, as well as each firm’s structure and culture are all relevant to whether or not a managing partner continues to practice and, if so, to what extent. Implicit in all these comments is that a firm’s profitability and how this is best maximized is the bottom line and each firm must find its own way.

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