Leopold von Gerlach

Hogan Lovells has appointed Hamburg-based partner Leopold von Gerlach to replace London partner Nicholas Cheffings as its new global chair.

Von Gerlach, an intellectual property litigator, will assume the post on May 1 for an initial three-year term. Partners are permitted to serve in the global chair role for a maximum of two terms.

Real estate partner Cheffings will have served two full terms after taking over as sole chair from co-chairs Claudette Christian and John Young in 2012, following the 2010 merger of London’s Lovells and U.S. firm Hogan & Hartson.

Von Gerlach, whose key clients include The LEGO Group, Citi, eBay, PayPal and Estee Lauder,  has been a member of the firm’s board since 2014, when he succeeded Madrid partner Jose Maria Balana as its continental Europe representative.

“Hogan Lovells is uniquely positioned in the market—it has unrivaled strengths on both sides of the Atlantic and a strong shared single sense of identity, based on common values which transcend national boundaries,” von Gerlach said. “It has been very impressive to see just how cohesive we are as a firm and how well we collaborate and innovate for the benefit of our clients—something which they see as truly distinctive for us.”

Von Gerlach will work in tandem with Washington D.C.-based CEO Steve Immelt and London-based deputy CEO David Hudd, whose leadership terms were extended last year by two years. The pair, who were elected to their roles in July 2014, will now stay in their posts until the end of June 2020.

Cheffings will return to a full-time, fee-earning role in the firm’s London office, while he also serves as chair of legal social mobility initiative Prime, which was set up in 2011 to provide work experience in the legal profession to schoolchildren from less-privileged backgrounds.

“My greatest sense of satisfaction, as I look back, is having overseen the transition of the firm from a very new venture with lots of energy and ambition but lots of work still to be done, into a firm which is now seen by competitors and clients as a very serious player on the global legal market, with a distinct offering,” he said. “To have been able to get to this point in this timeframe in a very seamless and thoughtful way is always good to be able to look back on.”

Cheffings also said the change is a natural next step for von Gerlach and for Hogan Lovells. “Leo has been an excellent contributor to the board, and he has a very deep sense of the culture, ethos and heritage of our firm,” he said.

Last year, Hogan Lovells announced that it is changing the way it reports its financial results, in a push to more closely align the firm’s international partnership with its U.S. arm.

Global revenues climbed by almost 6 percent to $1.925 billion in 2016, while profits per equity partner stayed flat at $1.253 million. The trans-Atlantic firm generated roughly 52 percent of the year’s turnover in the Americas, with London and continental Europe contributing 41 percent.