Roll up, roll up: the runners and riders in Lovells’ senior partner race

Lovells partner John Young has emerged as another contender in the firm’s hotly-contested senior partner race.

Young, a star of the corporate insurance practice, is being put forward by a group of Lovells partners. It is not yet clear whether he will accept the nomination.

Four candidates have already declared their candidacy (see right).

Despite the firm’s cosmopolitan management structure, however, no foreign partner is involved in the race.

At the end of this month, the three partners with the most nominations will move through to the second round.

Andrew Walker: 3-1 favourite
The status quo candidate. Might not be seen as the progressive option and unlikely to be the London partners’ favourite, particularly if they are under 45. However, Walker has significant overseas support because he has been waving the Lovells flag across the globe throughout his tenure. Will also get credit for the huge strides the firm has taken in the past few years under inspirational managing partner Lesley MacDonagh.

Robert Kidby: 5-1
The Godfather of the Mexican Wave. Guitar-playing Bob will have cross-practice appeal because of his easy manner and general popularity. The fact that he is head of property is unlikely to be of any help given that the department is not as strategically important as either corporate, which is Hugh Nineham’s turf, or litigation, which is Andrew Walker’s. On the other hand, Kidby has considerable profile outside the firm and might be perceived as a good ambassador.

Hugh Nineham: 5-1
The corporate candidate. Nineham is head of the corporate department, which is now at the heart of Lovells’ strategy, which should stand him in good stead. His profile externally is also high – he acted on the mega Carlton-Granada merger, which is still bogged down before the Competition Commission. However, the downside to all that is that not everyone will want a corporate lawyer and Nineham is not a great compromise candidate should the partnership reject Walker.

John Young: 10-1 outsider
The stalking horse. Young’s performance in building up Lovells’ corporate insurance practice make him a highly-regarded partner. Plus, he must have something going for him if partners are still trying to persuade him to stand when a full range of other candidates have already declared. However, on the downside, partners might be loath to see him leave the niche practice he has built. Plus, a low international profile.

Philip Collins: 10-1 outsider
The outsider. Collins is a highly-regarded practitioner in his field of competition law, but is an outside bet. He might get points from overseas offices because he works in Brussels. Difficult to advise a flutter on either Collins or Young because only three can progress to the next round, but one might squeeze through as a compromise candidate.