Olswang elects new chief exec seven months after Stewart departure

Olswang has elected a new chief executive officer seven months after former head David Stewart unexpectedly stepped down from the role half way through his term.

The firm has appointed Paul Stevens (pictured), head of the intellectual property group, to the chief executive position for a three-year term. He takes over from interim post-holder and intellectual property partner Michael Burdon with immediate effect (14 May).

Stewart resigned as chief executive last year just 18 months after he was re-elected to a second three-year term in 2013. He first became Olswang’s chief executive in 2010, when the firm dropped the managing partner position he had held since 2007.

Following Stewart’s resignation the firm appointed a nomination committee to oversee the appointment of a new chief executive. In addition Olswang turned to executive search firm Egon Zehnder, which also looked at external candidates for the role and the selection process, in order to “be as objective as possible”, a spokesperson said.

The selection process saw Stevens emerge as the only candidate nomination recommended by the committee, and he was subsequently endorsed by the firm’s board. His nomination was uncontested and Stevens’ position was confirmed by a partnership vote this week.

Olswang chair Dirk Van Liedekerke said: “The partnership vote, in what was a very high turnout election, is a clear testament to partners’ confidence in Paul.”

Stevens said it was a “tremendous privilege” to be elected to the chief executive role, adding that he believed Olswang was “well placed” to meet the challenges of “the evolving legal market.

Stewart’s profile on professional networking site LinkedIn lists him as “looking for new opportunities”, citing his management experience at his “then firm” Olswang.

His options include a career away from law, with the former litigator adding that he is “interested in opportunities to use [his] dispute and management skills”.