Baker McKenzie EMEA chief executive Fiona Carlin (pictured), Hong Kong managing partner Milton Cheng and North America head Colin Murray have made the final stage of the election process to become the firm’s next chair.
Bakers’ seven-strong appointments committee drew up the shortlist of three candidates earlier this week following soundings with partners over the summer, whittled down from a list of six contenders who had initially been in the running.
The firm’s equity partners will vote to elect the next chair in the next two weeks.
Latin America head Jamie Trujillo, who took over as acting chair when Paul Rawlinson stepped down from the role in October last year, was among the candidates putting their names forward at the beginning of the summer. London competition partner Samantha Mobley and Sydney-based TMT head Anne-Marie Allgrove were the other two who failed to make the final cut.
The process took place on an unusually quick timetable in exceptional circumstances, after the election was triggered by the unexpected death of Rawlinson in April.
The three remaining candidates represent the firm’s three key regions, with Bakers long intending to establish three separate profit centres – in Europe, America and Asia – by 2020.
Brussels-based Carlin was previously chair of the firm’s antitrust practice and was elected to her current role in February 2018 after the firm agreed to integrate London and eight of its EMEA offices into one profit pool for the first time. The number of offices in the group has since grown to 16.
With some partners expecting the next chair to stem from the firm’s Asian partnership, Cheng is also a strong candidate. As well as managing the Hong Kong office, he is the chief executive overseeing eight of Bakers’ Asia Pacific offices. He joined the firm as a trainee in 1990 and has since also worked in its London and Singapore offices.
Meanwhile, San Francisco-based litigator Murray manages the firm’s practices in the US, Mexico and Canada. He joined Bakers in 2000 after spending seven years as deputy district attorney in San Diego.
The next chair will take over from Trujillo at the end of the firm’s global partnership meeting, to be held in London in the week starting 14th October.
A spokesperson for Bakers said in a statement: ‘We don’t comment on internal matters and will make an announcement about our new chair in due course once they have been appointed.’