SJ Berwin partners vote on governance shake-up in wake of failed merger

SJ Berwin partners are today voting on changes to the firm’s governance as part of new managing partner Rob Day’s push to improve communication at the firm.

SJ Berwin partners are today voting on changes to the firm’s governance as part of new managing partner Rob Day’s push to improve communication at the firm.

Under the proposals, the current strategy committee would morph into a partnership board and reduce in size from 10 to eight members. Instead of comprising practice group heads, the new body would be made up of six elected partners along with managing partner Day and senior partner Jonathan Blake.

The practice groups head who currently sit on the strategy committee would join a new management committee which would deal with day-to-day management rather than firm strategy.

The final change would see the establishment international executive committee to replace the existing international strategy committee.

If the proposals are voted through by the necessary two thirds majority, as widely expected within the firm, elections for the new partnership board are expected to take place early in the New Year.

The current strategy committee came in for criticism from some partners who felt frustrated that details of the failed merger talks with US firm Proskauer Rose were poorly communicated to the wider partnership over the course of the nine-month negotiations.

Following his election in October Day admitted that communication had been an issue at the firm and pledged to improve transparency (1 November 2010).

One SJ Berwin partner said of the proposed revamp: “They are pretty low-key changes but they’ll have important consequences. It will mean a few new people will be brought in [to the committee].”

Talks with Proskauer came to an end last month. Last week, the firm was hit with the latest in a string of partner exits when corporate partner Tandeep Minhas joined Taylor Wessing (8 December 2010).