Withers has elected New York partner Ivan Sacks as its new chairman. He is the first U.S. lawyer to serve as chair of the London-founded firm. In the United States, the firm is known as Withers Bergman, a result of a 2002 merger with Connecticut-based Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds, creating one of the world's largest private-client firms. Withers has about 370 lawyers worldwide, including about 50 in New York, Sacks said.

Sacks, who once practiced at Sullivan & Cromwell and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, joined Withers as a partner in 2003. He provides trust, estate and tax planning advice to wealthy U.S. and international families. He was previously U.S. regional senior partner and managing director of Withers' New York office. The firm's new managing director in New York is David Guin. As chair, Sacks succeeds Milan-based Anthony Indaimo, who stepped down after serving the maximum two terms allowed under firm rules.

Sacks, 50, said his new role is a non-executive position. The firm's managing director, London-based Margaret Robertson, oversees day-to-day management, while Sacks said his duties include helping to set and lead firm strategy and collaborating with partners in all offices. Withers' election of a chairman in the United States, he said, reflects the success of the firm's merger. "It's very gratifying that the firm's partners have seen fit to elect an American to that role," Sacks said. He added that the firm plans to grow its offices overseas and in the United States, with possible new locations in the United States, although he declined to specify cities of interest.