Cabal of top partners sought Rink's exit last year; leadership vote in December
Allen & Overy (A&O) managing partner John Rink - who resigned last Tuesday (8 October) - was asked to step down by an influential group of partners a year ago, The Lawyer can reveal. According to several well-placed sources, a deputation of partners, including corporate head Richard Cranfield, banking head David Morley and capital markets partner Boyan Wells, asked Rink to consider standing down early. The request - summarily rejected by Rink - came amid mounting concerns among key partners about the strained relationship between Rink and senior partner Guy Beringer. The news reveals a long-running power struggle at the heart of the A&O management team and Rink's departure will underline Beringer's grip on the management of the magic circle firm. Rink, who had been managing partner since 1994, was close to former senior partner Bill Tudor John. One source close to the firm told The Lawyer: "The relationship between John and Guy was difficult because Guy was voted in over Bill. There's no question that John and Bill were seen as a team." Another partner confirmed: "There was a lack of harmony between him [Rink] and Beringer and the firm was in limbo. [The deputation] was possibly a little heavy-handed." Another source said: "Rink was becoming increasingly more isolated." The Lawyer understands that Rink's move last week was of his own making, and that in recent times the tension between Rink and Beringer had eased. One partner said: "Things did improve, mostly because John's taken more of a back seat. John's affectionately regarded in the firm." Rink told The Lawyer: "Stepping down is entirely my decision. The firm itself is surprised." Rink's departure will hasten the managing partner election, originally scheduled for the end of next year. The vote is set for December, after which Rink will stay on as part of a handover period until the end of April next year. He will remain on the board until May 2004 as a non-executive director. Rink said: "Guy Beringer asked me to do it so the board can tap into my expertise and experience. I was delighted to be asked."