Magic circle firm Slaughter and May has elected a new senior partner.

Steve Cooke (pictured), who joined the firm as a trainee in 1982, will take up his new role on 1 May for a five-year term.

Cooke became a partner in 1991. He has headed the firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice, and been a member of the partnership board since 2001.

According to the firm’s announcement, Cooke acts for a number of listed clients including Aggreko, ARM Holdings, Barratt Developments, Centrica, Diageo, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, International Airlines Group and Rolls-Royce.

Cooke succeeds Chris Saul, who retires in April after 39 years at the firm.   

Cooke paid tribute to Saul, who joined the firm as a trainee in 1977, was made a partner in 1986 and elected senior partner in 2008.

‘On behalf of the whole firm, I want to thank Chris for the skilfulness, energy and warmth that he has brought to the role over the last eight years,’ Cooke said.

‘He has been an inspirational leader who has done so much to take the firm forward while maintaining our distinctive strategy and culture. There are many unique aspects to Slaughter and May, and I look forward to working with our exceptionally talented team.’

Slaughter and May has 713 lawyers, including 112 partners, and a total staff of 1,243 worldwide.

The firm’s announcement states that 22% of its partners are female.