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White & Case has overhauled its global management structure in the wake of a review by consultants McKinsey & Co, with the firm moving to reposition itself by region rather than by office.

The changes, effective this week (1 December) will see power shifting from individual offices in preference of key regional groups – with the Americas, Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) each gaining a separate operations council made up of partners from different practice groups.

The firm has also put in place a 16-member global practice council and overhauled the management of its two largest offices – London and New York.

London senior partner Peter Finlay is to be replaced by employment partner Oliver Brettle, who will take up the new position of executive partner.

New York, meanwhile, gains a new executive partner in the shape of corporate partner Neal Grenley, who replaces David Koschik. Koschik now chairs the Americas operations committee, with London projects partner Philip Stopford chairing the EMEA operations group.

All of the committees sit below chairman Hugh Verrier, who brought in McKinsey to conduct the review in spring this year. The revised global strategy is intended to help the firm boost profits.

Other changes include a new focus on target clients internationally with the firm piloting five global client teams, in a project led by Finlay, with the intention of expanding it further in 2009.

Verrier said: “If every lawyer in this firm is bringing in whatever clients they can with the strength of the brand and their individual reputations, you end up with a huge client base that starts to conflict with itself and trip over itself. We need strategic decision making with the clients we choose.”

He added: “We are not content with the status quo and we think we can close the gap with any firm that we view as a competitor.”

The new management structure replaces the executive committee and partnership committee structure put in place last year after Verrier was elected as chairman. In recent months White & Case has announced the closure of three offices in Dresden, Milan and Bangkok, and announced a redundancy consultation that will affect 70 associates and 90 staff – the firm has insisted that none of these decisions were related to the McKinsey review.

Americas operations council

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