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Linklaters appoints German COO as director of legal operations

Linklaters has appointed its German COO, Stefan Schwarz, as director of legal operations, following the resignation of Stewart Chippindale at the end of last year. Schwarz will be the magic circle firm’s first functional head based outside of the UK.

The director of legal operations role was created in June 2019 to head a 400-strong function that brought together four existing teams:

Alternative Legal Services – including paralegals and Legal Project Managers to technology specialists and contract lawyer Re:link – led by global head of alternative services, Jas Mundae

Innovation – led by head of innovation Shilpa Bhandarkar

Knowledge and Learning – led by global head of knowledge and learning Rachel Manser

Matter Pricing – led by global head of pricing Peter Sawko

Schwarz joined Linklaters in 2007, and before serving as Regional COO in Germany, he worked in the firm’s strategy team in London. Schwarz will perform this role based from Düsseldorf.

Gideon Moore, firmwide managing partner, said: “Clients more than ever are looking for innovative solutions and our Legal Operations function plays a critical role in meeting this demand. I’m looking forward to working with Stefan as he leads the next chapter of our Legal Operations journey and collaborates with our exceptional lawyers around the world to deliver value for our clients.”

Private practice law firms are increasingly mirroring their clients’ legal operations function in a bid to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet.’ Other major law firms to introduce a legal operations role include Baker McKenzie (the role was first filled by David Cambria in 2018) and Herbert Smith Freehills. HSF launched its global legal operations function in 2018, led by director of legal operations, Ian Gilbert. That function, too, brings together the firm’s legal project management, pricing, legal process improvement and innovation teams into a single unit to provide a more efficient and joined up service to clients.