David Stewart, Olswang's long-term CEO, has stepped down 18 months early.

Stewart was only re-elected as CEO last year, and has headed the firm since 2007. The decision clearly came as a surprise to the partners. Michael Burdon, the firm's Head of European Patent Litigation, has stepped in as interim CEO while the partners try and find a permanent replacement. Insiders say that Burdon, whilst undoubtedly an excellent lawyer and kind to animals, is a surprising choice for CEO. So this looks like an appointment made in a hurry.

Stewart wouldn't comment on his reasons for stepping down, nor on whether he plans to leave the firm entirely. A spokeswoman for the firm was also remarkably coy, issuing a statement which just banged on about how well Olswang was doing and how Stewart "steps down with our deep gratitude for all his hard work and our best wishes for the future".

    Where might he be?*

There has been a great deal of infighting at Olswang over the last few years, with some partners wanting the firm to stick to its knitting and remain a TMT boutique and others looking to expand and become a more generalist, international firm. The smart money is that Stewart has had enough of the ceaseless bickering and will crop up at a US firm on massive dollar. Watch this space.

*A: Frantically polishing up his CV for Gibson Dunn

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 10 October 14 08:21

My bet is that Stewart was pushing for a US merger and that the other partners didn't fancy being beasted 24 hours a day (with many de-equitised to help make a deal work), so gave him the old 'blood on the carpet' move.
RoF seems totally right that he'll reappear at a US firm, maybe Cooley, who once would have been an ideal merger candidate.

Anonymous 10 October 14 11:58

Presumably Stewart has lawyered-up and no one at the firm is allowed to comment.

Be very interesting to see where he turns up.

Anonymous 11 October 14 01:14

So means the door is open for Paul Wilson ceo of Shakespeares who has been spotted at the offices

Anonymous 11 October 14 20:49

Unlikely Stewart was pushing for a U.S. merger at his age and given his need for power and control. If he's lawyered up as suggested he needs to get a better lawyer - suspicious silence, no damage limitation. Why fuel gossip if there's nothing to hide? People know more about this than they're letting on.

Anonymous 13 October 14 09:26

Anonymous @19.49
'Unlikely Stewart was pushing for a U.S. merger at his age and given his need for power and control'

If the US firm did not have a major presence in the UK already then a merger would have given Stewart considerable power still. As you know, US firms tend to let the non-US parts of the business 'just get on with it', meaning he'd have had more $$$, global reach via the US firm and would have had little oversight. They'd probably throw him some nominal firm wide title such as Co-Chairman in addition. If one wanted power, then this would not be such a bad choice.
As to age, not sure that counts in US firms. If you want to work then US firms will let you keep going. That is one good reason to join them - you die at your desk (if that's what you want).