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Cravath, Swaine & Moore has elected its next presiding partner. Evan Chesler, who was elected to the firm’s top management position at a partners’ meeting Tuesday night, will succeed Robert D. Joffe, presiding partner since 1999, on Jan. 1, 2007. Now the firm’s head of litigation, Chesler, 56, will spend the next year as deputy presiding partner. He joined Cravath as an associate in 1976 and became a partner in 1982. He has served as lead trial counsel for IBM Corp. in most of its major litigations of the last two decades, including antitrust claims Microsoft Corp. agreed to settle in July for $850 million. He also has frequently represented pharmaceutical maker Bristol Myers-Squibb. One of the nation’s most profitable and prestigious law firms, 479-lawyer Cravath is also one of the most conservative, largely eschewing the international expansion and lateral growth embraced by other firms. Chesler said Wednesday he is mindful of globalization and the changes it had wrought on the legal profession. But he also said Cravath’s model of practice had held up extremely well. “The phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ comes to mind,” he said. Richard Clary will become the firm’s new head of litigation.

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