Ashurst to replace senior partner with elected chairman role

Ashurst is to scrap its senior partner position, currently held by Charlie Geffen, after its proposed full financial merger with Ashurst Australia, which is expected to take place later this year.


Charlie Geffen
Charlie Geffen

The senior partner position is to be replaced by a newly-elected global chairman and vice chairman, one of which will come from Ashurst and one from Ashurst Australia, formerly Blake Dawson. 

The new global board with have 14 members in total, also including the firm’s managing partner, four elected legacy Ashurst LLP partners, an elected Asia partner and three elected legacy Ashurst Australia partners. Partner votes on all elected positions will be held later this year. 

In May, the firm announced that new non-executive directors Robert Gillespie and David Turner are to be the merged firm’s independent board members (29 May 2013), while former Allen & Overy chief finance officer Brian Dunlop has been named as the board’s non-voting CFO (29 April 2013).

Other management roles will remain broadly in line with their current set up, with current managing partner James Collis taking the global managing partner role and Ashurst Australia’s standing managing partner John Carrington maintaining his position at the head of the firm’s Australian practice. Singapore-based Matthew Bubb will continue in his role as Asia managing partner. 

The firm has also introduced a new global divisional structure based along four business lines, each of which will be co-led by one Ashurst and one Ashurst Australia partner. 

Corporate, commercial and competition will be led by London-based global corporate head Stephen Lloyd, and Sydney-based corporate partner Phil Breden. 

Disputes, intellectual property and employment will be jointly led by London-based head of disputes Simon Bromwich and the Sydney-based leader of the firm’s Australian IP, competition and technology group Lisa Ritson. 

Current global head of energy, transport and infrastructure Mark Elsey in London will lead the energy, resources, real estate and infrastructure line alongside Perth-based head of energy and resources Geoff Gishubl. Finance will be co-led by Paris-based partner Laurent Mabilat and banking and finance partner Paul Jenkins in Sydney. 

Energy partners Tony Denholder in Brisbane, and Logan Mair in London will become client partners, responsible for the development and implementation of Ashurst’s global client strategy. 

Geffen said the firm is moving towards integration “step by step”, announcing in a statement: “The management structure and team we have put in place reflects the ambition of the firm and gives us a strong global platform to achieve our strategy and vision for the merged firm. Our new structure will ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible and will help us to deliver excellence in client service.” 

In June, Ashurst decided to bring forward the timetable for the proposed full merger which could see partners on both sides voting on the deal in October. 75 per cent of UK partners need to vote in favour of the merger if it is to go through. It is understood that partners at Ashurst Australia will vote on the same day. 

The full merger, if voted through, would see all partners at both firms on a single managed lockstep with a single global profit pool (28 June 2013 ).