Top Clifford Chance Executive Joins MC As Chief Executive

Published: Thu 3 Nov 2022 12:29 PM
New Zealand’s largest litigation firm, MC, has attracted a top executive from world-renowned “Magic Circle” law firm Clifford Chance to return home to become its new Chief Executive Officer.
Sophie Schwass, a New Zealander, with 13 years' experience in global leadership roles in large multinational banks is currently Clifford Chance’s Chief Operating Officer for the UK region and a member of its Global Executive Operations Group steering strategy for the firm across its 34 offices in 23 countries.
In 2020/21, Clifford Chance had the highest revenue of any London “Magic Circle” firm, with revenues of close to £2 billion or NZ$3.9billion. It ranks as one of world’s ten largest law firms measured both by number of lawyers and revenue.
MC Managing Partner Steve Haszard, who led the recruitment process, said Ms Schwass’ appointment followed an extensive search for an organisational-wide leader to take MC to the next stage of its development.
Mr Haszard said Ms Schwass would report directly to the Management Board and would absorb his role as managing partner when he retires from the partnership on 30 June 2023 after nearly 25 years with the firm.
“Sophie agreeing to return to New Zealand to take over the firm’s leadership is a major endorsement of MC as one of Aotearoa’s top law firms and number one in litigation,” Mr Haszard said.
“For our partners and all our team, Sophie’s appointment is a huge opportunity to work with and learn from one of the world’s most accomplished leaders in the management of professional-services firms, and underlines our ongoing commitment to generational change, continued evolution and growth.
Ms Schwass said, “I am excited to be coming home and joining Meredith Connell as CEO. It is rare to have the opportunity to lead an organisation that plays such an important role in upholding trust in our communities combined with being a successful commercial organisation with an appetite to grow and innovate. I am honoured that the partnership are entrusting me to take up the leadership of the firm and impressed by the commitment to shaping MC’s future success.”
While starting her career at Wilson Harle in Auckland, Ms Schwass has lived and worked in Asia, Europe and the UK. She enjoys creating and supporting high performing teams and a positive work environment.
Ms Schwass starts at MC on Monday 20 February 2023.

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