Tag: leadership

A&O managing partner Price departs pre-merger as revenue passes £2bn

Allen & Overy has announced the shock resignation of managing partner Gareth Price amid a set of financial results that saw the Magic Circle firm break £2bn in revenue for the first time.

The firm said Price’s resignation was due to ‘personal reasons’ and came as revenue jumped nearly 8% from £1.94bn last year to £2.1bn in 2022/23. While eye-catching, the level of turnover growth fell slightly short of the 10% uptick achieved last year, of which more than half was attributed to A&O’s US business.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped 6.6% from £1.95m to £1.82m, while profit before tax dipped slightly to £892m after a 9% hike to £900m last year.

Price was elected A&O’s managing partner in February 2020. News of his departure has been met by surprise, not least because he had been hotly tipped internally to stand again for managing partner in the firm’s 2024 leadership elections, a move that could be seen as a vote for continuity as A&O faces inevitable challenges posed by its proposed merger with Shearman & Sterling.

‘The board has asked me to step in to cover the [managing partner] role’, senior partner Wim Dejonghe told Legal Business. ‘They will make a decision on a more permanent solution in the autumn. Leadership elections were scheduled for early next year, after the merger vote. The board also has to decide whether they stick to that schedule or not.’

On the financials, A&O reported strong growth in private capital revenue of more than 60% for the last two years. In the US, ‘growth and expansion has remained a high priority’ – unsurprising given the firm’s pursuit of the Shearman merger. A&O pointed to the region as one of its strong performers, alongside Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, which saw its ‘strongest financial performance ever’, driven by what it describes as ‘a hot IPO market’, as well as by opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

A&O’s Advanced Delivery & Solutions (AD&S) business also grew by 13%.

While the US accounted for over 50% of the firm’s revenue growth last year, this year Dejonghe said it accounted for less than half. ‘It’s up in absolute figures, but it’s not 50% of the growth,’ he said.

A&O also reported strong performance in energy transition, technology, and private capital: ‘With the energy transition, there’s a lot of financing needed in the energy and infrastructure space. That’s definitely a strong growth point for us. Technology, both on the litigation and the transactional side, has also seen massive growth, as has private capital on the debt side,’ Dejonghe added.

Dejonghe explained the drop in PEP with reference to macroeconomic conditions and a competitive legal market. ‘We’re in an inflationary environment. Costs generally have gone up. And of course there’s been a salary war in the industry around the world. We’ve defended our position, and we’ve had to spend quite a bit more on salaries to keep and recruit the best talent.’

A&O has no plans to slow its investment. ‘In terms of sectors, we’re focusing on technology, energy transition, and private money. We’re investing quite heavily in those practices around the world.’

But, unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of attention will go to the proposed combination with Shearman. ‘Obviously, the merger will be a priority going forward’, said Dejonghe. ‘There’s no doubt about that.’


This article first appeared on Legal Business

‘A powerful position’: Youle succeeds Trivedi as Skadden London head

Rich Youle, Skadden’s much-admired co-head of private equity, has taken over from Pranav Trivedi as the head of Skadden’s London office.

Youle (pictured) took the helm on 1 July and will continue as global co-head of the firm’s private equity group alongside Ken Wolff in New York.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential dealmakers in the Square Mile, Youle joined Skadden from White & Case in 2017 amid much fanfare.

For his part, Trivedi has been at Skadden for 30 years and is widely held to have been a strategic and effective London leader throughout his ten years in the role.

Commenting on his appointment, Youle said: ‘I’m honoured to take over from Pranav, who has served the office so brilliantly during his tenure. As Skadden celebrates its 75th year anniversary and 35 years in London, with a new home in the City, it is an exciting time to reflect upon our growth. I’m looking forward to working with our talented team to build on that success.’

Trivedi added: ‘It has been such a pleasure to lead the London office for ten years. I’m proud to say that the office has grown exponentially, becoming one of the cornerstones of the firm’s global network. Rich’s impressive leadership capabilities, business acumen and deep understanding of the market, will undoubtedly continue to drive forward our success.’

Executive partner Eric Friedman concluded: ‘Pranav has served the London office with unwavering dedication and leaves it in a powerful position. Rich embodies our core values and has a proven track record of delivering outstanding results for clients and for his exemplary leadership skills. I know we are in good hands as he leads the London office into its next chapter.’

For more on Youle, read Legal Business’ 2018 Life during Law interview


This story first appeared on Legal Business

‘An excellent foundation from which to build’: Clifford Chance appoints new office managing partner in New York

Less than two weeks after Clifford Chance revealed the opening of a new office in Houston, the firm has announced the appointment of long-time CC real estate lawyer Ness Cohen as managing partner for its New York office, while also continuing to serve as real estate practice leader of the Americas.

Speaking to Legal Business, Cohen said: ‘The firm decided that it would make sense to have a New York office manager generally, especially with New York being one of our largest offices and also with our growth ambitions in the US.’

Cohen said that regional managing partner for the Americas, Sharis Pozen, approached him and said many of his fellow partners put his name forward for the new role. Pozen is based in CC’s Washington office, although she will be in New York for one week a month.

‘We just had an offsite meeting in Philadelphia for the US partners, as well as our colleagues in São Paulo, mainly to talk about our overarching global strategy. The alignment between the two is very clear. The global strategy identifies, among other things, that the US is a focus area,’ Cohen explained.

Cohen started at New-York based Roger & Wells back in 1998. The following year, the firm merged with Clifford Chance and Pünder Volhard Weber & Axster in Germany in a three-way merger. ‘[It] was really ambitious. To do one merger is feat, imagine pulling off a three-way merger that brought together three best-in-class firms,’ he added.

He was promoted to CC partner in 2007 and his practice focuses on real estate private equity, joint ventures, acquisitions, dispositions and financings involving real estate.

Earlier this month, the firm announced the opening of a new office in Houston, bolstering its global energy and infrastructure practice in the US.

‘Our entry into the Houston market is underway by an extremely appealing range of lateral candidates, which exemplifies the essence of our US strategy. The New York strategy is very similar, and we’ve brought in a fair number of laterals recently, integrating them into our office and the region,’ Cohen said.

‘There are some other ambitions that are underway with respect to potentially other locations. It’s safe to say that the firm as a whole sees the US as a region it can really achieve outsize growth.’

Cohen explained that the firm’s key focus areas are energy and infrastructure, technology, life sciences and healthcare, while it also seeks to build on other sectors.

‘We see our existing team as an excellent foundation from which to build further and grow out further. In other areas where the firm outside the US is extremely strong, we can use that and leverage it to build further. Houston is a good example of that.’

Cohen has also headed up the firm’s Personal Committee since 2011. He said ‘I really enjoy that role. It deals with everything, including our lawyers’ work-life balance. But that’s something that probably we’ll be looking to transition, since it wouldn’t make sense for me to keep that role with this.’


This article first appeared on our sister publication Legal Business

Russ to step down as Travers Smith senior partner

Kathleen Russ has taken the decision to step down as senior partner of Travers Smith, following a leave of absence for ‘exceptional family reasons’.

Russ (pictured) will return to her role as senior partner in a part time capacity, sharing responsibilities with Siân Keall, who has been acting senior partner since January. Russ will stand down as a partner and senior partner on 30th June, after which she will remain as a consultant at Travers, focusing on areas of strategic importance such as ESG, D&I and client listening.

The firm will hold an election for a senior partner successor in the autumn, after the summer break. Keall will continue in the role of acting senior partner until the election.

Russ first took on the role of senior partner in July 2019, succeeding long term leader Chris Hale. She has been a tax partner at Travers since 2001, leading the tax team from July 2007 to January 2017. Russ was re-elected for a second term as senior partner in November 2022.

Keall is a partner in the firm’s employment department and a member of its diversity & inclusion board.

A spokesperson for Travers Smith said: ‘The partnership board recognises that Kathleen has made a significant contribution to Travers, and they are delighted that she will be continuing as a consultant.’

Edmund Reed, managing partner of Travers, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Kath back after her leave of absence for exceptional family reasons and the inevitable impact of those circumstances on Kath. We prioritise the wellbeing of our people ahead of anything else, and enabling Kath to share the responsibilities of the senior partner role with Siân Keall will allow her to balance her personal situation at home with the time-pressures that can come from performing the senior partner role, at a leading city law firm.’


This article first appeared on Legal Business

‘People are at the core’: ESG-focused Butterworth named TLT senior partner

TLT has elected a new senior partner, with head of pensions Sasha Butterworth set to assume the role at the beginning of 2023.

Taking over from Andrew Glynn, who has vacated the position after seven years, Butterworth will assume a range of new duties within the firm. These include chairing both the renumeration and promotions committees.

Speaking to Legal Business, Butterworth outlined her priorities going forward: ‘People are at the core of everything we do. One of our initiatives is TLT World, which means that people can work where they want and how they want, as longs as they are meeting client needs. We have some people in the office all the time, some who work completely from home, and some who do a mixture of both. We are completely committed to that model going forward, and I am just looking to continue the great work done by my predecessor Andrew Glynn.

‘We have also started to integrate the new routes to solicitor qualification. We have had our first cohort of legal apprenticeship and graduate legal apprenticeship candidates begin their programmes; my secretary is one of them. I’m sad to lose her, but it shows how great she is! The legal solicitor apprenticeship is now open to external candidates, and the graduate solicitor apprenticeship is only open to internal candidates for the moment.’

Another of Butterworth’s duties will be leading TLT’s responsible business agenda. Earlier this year, the firm had its commitment to reach net zero by 2040, verified by the Science Based Targets initiative. On the subject, she added: ‘Responsible business is another key thing for us. We recently received ISO 14001 certification, which is basically the gold standard for sustainable business. We are also committed to reaching net zero by 2040, which is a really ambitious target.’

In addition to her senior partner responsibilities, Butterworth will continue to act as head of pensions and maintain a practice that includes advising on the pension aspects of outsourcing from the public sector and reducing scheme liabilities with medically underwritten buy-ins.

‘I’ll be focusing on key pensions clients,’ she confirmed. ‘I won’t have the complete caseload I have now, but I will be doing around 50% alongside my new duties as senior partner.’


This article first appeared on Legal Business

Happy 200th birthday: Ashurst chief Jenkins re-appointed for four-year term

In an emphatic endorsement of five years’ sustained revenue growth, Ashurst global chief executive Paul Jenkins has been reinstated for a further four-year term from 1 November 2022.

Having originally been elected CEO in 2016, Jenkins has successfully guided Ashurst through a tricky post-merger period, with revenues far exceeding expectations. Turnover stuttered in the years immediately following Ashurst’s 2013 merger with Australian firm Blake Dawson, but over the course of Jenkins’ tenure the firm’s revenue has jumped by 40% with an average annual growth rate of over 7%.

In the latest round of financial results in July 2021, Ashurst breached the £1m-profit-per-equity-partner barrier for the first time since the global financial crisis, while revenues received a double-digit boost to reach £711m. 

Just like in 2019, Jenkins’ appointment was based on extensive consultations with the firm’s partnership and staff as conducted by Ashurst’s board – underlining his popular internal support.

Ashurst’s global chair Karen Davies, who was elected in 2021 as successor to Ben Tidswell , said of Jenkins: ‘This significant growth has been achieved through setting a clear vision and direction for the firm and disciplined strategic planning. It has included sharpening the firm’s sector focus, strengthening our capabilities in key markets and focusing on our clients and people. Inclusion, diversity and belonging has been a particular priority, as has advancing our responsible business and sustainability agenda.’

Jenkins said he relished that his appointment will coincide with Ashurst’s 200th anniversary in 2022, before setting out his key priorities: ‘Ashurst, like any other business, will be managing the lasting effects of the pandemic during 2022 and beyond. Continuing to adjust to the societal and economic impact of the pandemic will be key, including prioritising the ongoing health and well-being of our people, and encouraging new ways of working.

‘We are focused on unlocking growth for our clients, and see opportunities across our five priority sectors arising from the significant investment by our clients in sustainability, energy transition, digital transformation and new digital assets. The opportunities for growth point to a future that is very different to the past.’

In terms of strategic highlights from his current term, the firm points to ‘significant investments’ in its new law business Ashurst Advance as well as its consulting arm, Ashurst Consulting. Ashurst claims that the Advance platform has nearly doubled in size each year of Jenkins’ tenure, while Ashurst Consulting has turned over more than £10m in revenue since its 2020 launch.

Since the 2020 financial year, Ashurst has achieved 30% revenue growth in Continental Europe. And in more people-focused achievements, the firm has reached a 30% target of women in senior leadership roles, with 50% on Ashurst’s global executive team and 61% in senior business services roles.

Looking ahead, Jenkins told Legal Business: ‘Generally law firms have had a solid 12 months. I don’t want to speak too soon but common with the market, we are seeing very strong activity over the last nine months. All the signs are positive.’


This article first appeared on Legal Business.