Bird & Bird partnership appoints Christian Bartsch as CEO to succeed David Kerr

The partnership of international law firm Bird & Bird has elected Christian Bartsch to succeed David Kerr as CEO when his term ends on 31st March 2022. 

David signalled his intention to step down in 2019 when his current three-year term started. Over the past two years, the firm’s Chair Graeme Maguire, the Board and David have worked closely with the partnership, management teams and external consultants on an extensive succession planning and consultation process. 

Christian Bartsch has a deep understanding of how the firm operates, currently serving as co-head of the firm’s international Financial Services sector group and Chair of the firm’s Risk Committee and having previously been elected as a member of the Board for six years.  He manages some of the firm’s biggest client relationships and projects across multiple jurisdictions, with a specific focus on emerging and disruptive technologies. He joined Bird & Bird in 2007. 

Over the coming months, Christian will work closely alongside David - who will stay on as a partner in the firm – and the rest of the management team until his term as CEO commences on 1 April 2022. He remains committed to the firm’s strategy of helping organisations being changed by the digital world, and has a reputation as an individual with an excellent understanding of the future of law, legal tech and innovation. This positions him well to lead the firm into the next chapter of its growth, working closely with clients on some of the world’s most exciting digital transformations. 

David has grown the firm from a small operation of €23m, 70 lawyers and three offices to a €455m business with 1400 lawyers in 30 offices today. He has spearheaded the firm’s expansion into new markets and capabilities, shaped the firm’s approach to client service, championed legal technology and its development and empowered generations of new leaders across the firm, working together with them in unison as one global firm. 

Graeme Maguire, Chair of the Board, says: “On behalf of the Board and the wider firm, I’d like to congratulate Christian on his election. I’ve worked closely with Christian over the past 14 years on supporting our global clients, as sector heads and on our Board. He’s a world class technology lawyer and an inspirational and innovative leader. I know he will work incredibly hard and effectively for our clients and all our people. I look forward to working together closely in the coming months and years to preserve our unique culture and continue to deliver on our strategy.

“Our firm wouldn’t be where it is today without David’s vision and leadership spanning almost three decades. On behalf of the entire firm, I’d like to thank David for everything he’s done – he leaves behind a true legacy.” 

David Kerr, CEO says: “It’s been an incredible privilege and honour to lead Bird & Bird over the past 26 years. We’ve been on a tremendous journey and I’ve learned so much from our clients and our brilliant people as we’ve grown. 

“I’ve always said that Bird & Bird’s unique culture makes it special and I know Christian will preserve our culture while leading the firm into an exciting new phase of growth. I’ve worked closely with Christian on the Board, on the growth of his group and on the firm’s risk group for many years. He holds a reputation as a partner who operates with integrity and fairness and whose close connection with our culture and values inspires confidence in those around him. I look forward to seeing the firm go from strength to strength in his very capable hands.”

Christian Bartsch, CEO-elect says: “The firm has achieved so much under David’s leadership and his vision and strategic insight has enabled the firm to achieve impressive and successful growth. I am committed to building on the firm’s exceptionally strong international platform, ensuring that our much-admired collaborative culture continues to benefit our service delivery to clients. 

“Our people have a vast amount of energy, enthusiasm and passion for client service. We have a fantastic team around our global network. I can’t wait to work with them to unlock a whole world of ideas and solutions for our clients.”

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