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Slaughter and May partners are preparing to choose a replacement to senior partner Giles Henderson who is nearing the end of his eight-year reign. Although Henderson still has 12 months to run in his second term, Legal Week’s sources said the internal debate over his successor has already started, with four candidates emerging so far. They are corporate partners Nigel Boardman, Michael Pescod and Tim Clark, as well as banking partner and management committee member Richard Slater. All four are drawn from the firm’s commercial, corporate and financial group, the engine room of the firm and the traditional background of the firm’s senior partner. Slaughters’ senior partner is usually chosen by the old-style City method of taking soundings among the firm’s 117 partners, a process that starts in the autumn and will be finalised next February. But it is understood that contested elections have taken place in the past. Henderson was first elected to the post in 1993, for a five-year term.Legal Week understands he was initially reluctant to serve a second term, but was persuaded to continue when it became clear no other partners were interested in the role. He agreed on the proviso that the term was shortened to three years. During his tenure, the firm has consolidated its position as the most profitable in the City.One source praised Henderson’s management skills: “He is one of the few senior partners who can relate to assistants, instead of treating them as dogsbodies.”Asked whether he wanted the post, Boardman denied interest. Comparing fee earning to management, he commented “One is fun, the other is not”. News of the election at Slaughters comes in the same week that Allen & Overy’s senior partner Bill Tudor John retires from the firm that he led for most of the 1990s.

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