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Hammond Suddards Edge this week moved to regain its national momentum with group head of corporate Richard Burns set to be named the firm’s new City chief, and two partner appointments at the firm’s Manchester office.The position of London managing partner was left vacant last week after Gary Watson announced his resignation to move to City firm Ashurst Morris Crisp’s commercial property department.A replacement will be finalised this week with Burns, fellow corporate partners David Armitage and London corporate head David Baylis being sounded out as likely contenders.Respected pensions head Jane Marshall has also been mentioned as a possible contender. Hammonds’ management is hoping to find a consensus candidate to be finalised this week, though in the event of several serious contenders the decision will go to a full vote.One Hammonds source told Legal Week: “Burns is seen as the clear front runner. There is a question of whether he wants to do it. I believe that he does.”Hammonds senior partner John Heller said: “I am very sorry to see Gary go. We are hoping to have something to announce next week.” The move comes as Hammonds is strengthening its Manchester office with the appointment of Paul Scholefield, currently a partner with Australian firm Deacons, and the appointment of senior Linklaters & Alliance solicitor Susan Kelly as a business restructuring partner.Scholefield, who was a department head at Deacons’ Hong Kong office, will lead Hammonds’ six-lawyer Northwest IP practice when he joins the firm next month.

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