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Slaughter and May appoints first female leader

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Deborah Finkler takes up newly-created managing partner role next spring

Slaughter and May’s Deborah Finkler

Magic circle law firm Slaughter and May has elected its first female managing partner as part of a wider shake-up across its upper ranks.

Disputes partner Deborah Finkler will take up the newly-created role in May next year, and in the process will become the firm’s first female leader in its 132-year history.

At the same time, Slaughters will do away with the positions of practice partner and executive partner following the planned retirement of David Wittmann and Paul Stacey.

Finkler, who joined Slaughters as an associate some 35 years ago, will work closely with current senior partner Steve Cooke as part of a new-look management team which will also feature the firm’s first chief operating officer. The search for a COO, which could be filled by a non-lawyer, is ongoing, according to the firm.

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Commenting on her appointment, Finkler said:

“The creation of the managing partner role marks a significant change for the firm. It is an exciting challenge for me, and I am grateful for the support of my partners as I step up. I am looking forward to shaping the role of and hiring the COO over the coming months, but my focus will remain on fee earning work until I begin a handover period with David and Paul early next year.”

Finkler joins a growing number of women lawyers to secure senior positions within their firms in the past 12 months.

Georgia Dawson, for example, made history by becoming the magic circle’s first female leader when she assumed the role of senior partner at Freshfields earlier this year. Other notable appointments include Ashurst‘s global chair, Karen Davies, Linklaters’ senior partner Aedamar Comiskey, and Herbert Smith Freehills‘ senior partner and chair Rebecca Maslen-Stannage.

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