New chief aims to keep Linklaters at the leading edge

Charles Allen-Jones is the new standard bearer at City law firm Linklaters & Paines, where he takes over from James Wyness as senior partner this autumn.

Wyness, 58, is retiring from the firm in spring 1997 after six years at the helm.

Allen-Jones, an avid tennis player and traveller to exotic places such as Burma, assumes command of the practice at a time when business is thriving off the back of the latest City takeover boom.

Aged 57, he is one of the Square Mile's best known legal advisers, instructing stockmarket giants such as shipping company Trafalgar House and leisure group Forte, recently taken over by Granada.

Although Allen-Jones is assuming the role of chief diplomat for the firm, he still intends to continue with his corporate practice. “I believe there will be time for involvement in a number of deals, despite the new job,” he said.

He heard about his appointment by phone during a business trip to Switzerland, greeting the news with a celebratory drink that evening – “and the next evening as well, to be frank”.

What plans does he have for the firm when he takes over from Wyness?

“I have several ideas but cannot discuss them in public before talking to other partners first,” he replied.

Allen-Jones does not feel that a Labour government will necessarily be bad for business or scare off international investors. And, naturally enough, he is convinced that Linklaters will continue to be at the cutting edge of corporate advisory work around the world.

He declined comment on the political ructions at Chancery Lane and he also brushed aside reports that the profession is presently plumbing new depths of disillusion and demoralisation.

“Not the case, here, I can assure you,” he remarked.