Ups and downs in the South East

The South East has seen shake-ups and departures in senior management at both Lester Aldridge and ASB Law.

Lester Aldridge elected head of the dispute resolution group Michael Giddins as its new managing partner on 19 June.

Giddins beat rival candidates Rachel Lapworth, the firm’s head of real estate, and corporate partner Tim Ford to the post.

Head of fast-track Karen Savage, who had announced her intention to stand at the end of last month, withdrew from the race.

The election took place following the decision last month by incumbent Roger Woolley to return to his property practice after six years at the helm. Giddins will take over in November for a three-year term, following a five-month handover period.

Eyebrows were raised across the region last month after ASB overhauled its management structure following the departure of chief executive officer Christopher Honeyman Brown earlier this year (The Lawyer, 29 May).

The non-lawyer chief executive joined the firm in 2001, after ASB was formed by the three-way merger of Argles & Court, Burstows and Stonehams. Honeyman Brown advised on the merger in his role at chartered accountants Horwath Clark Whitehill.

Honeyman Brown oversaw a stormy period in which 11 jobs were cut across ASB’s offices and three private client partners left for London firm Goodman Derrick. As first reported by The Lawyer (20 February), Honeyman Brown left earlier this year to pursue “other interests”, and has been unavailable for comment since.

In the wake of his departure, ASB lawyers voted to dispense with the chief executive post altogether and instead introduce a new role of managing partner. They also voted to hire a new finance director, who will form a new management team with the senior partner and MP.

Head of commercial litigation Andrew Clinton was elected to the managing partner post for a two-year term on 24 May, while Russell Bell was re-elected as senior partner for a further three years.

The firm expects to appoint a new finance director in the next few months, and had reduced the candidates to a shortlist of five, according to Bell.