The original Allen and Overy – founders George and Thomas – were law’s original odd couple, the former tall, dark and handsome, the latter a rather less imposing figure. According to the official history of Allen & Overy, they may not even have been particularly good friends, but the law firm they created endured to become what is now recognised as one of London’s ‘magic circle’. George Allen’s original criteria for recognising a future partner was apparently “He is a
The original Allen and Overy – founders George and Thomas – were law’s original odd couple, the former tall, dark and handsome, the latter a rather less imposing figure. According to the official history of Allen & Overy, they may not even have been particularly good friends, but the law firm they created endured to become what is now recognised as one of London’s ‘magic circle’.
George Allen’s original criteria for recognising a future partner was apparently “He is a fine chap, he is competent and he has financial ability,” and finance has always been a key part of the firm’s practice. The banking department in particular was traditionally the engine room of the firm and was the driver of the firm’s international growth, which thrived on the syndicated loan market of the 1990s and early 2000s and added to a substantial debt capital markets business.
During this period Allen & Overy was distinguished by its aggressive expansion even by the standards of the time. Key moments came when it opened in Paris through a team hire from its then-ally Gide merged with part of Loeff Claeys Verbeke, which delivered it major practices in Benelux.
There was some turbulence, however, when in 1999 senior partner Bill Tudor John – the architect of the firm’s international growth – was beaten in a partnership election by corporate head Guy Beringer (Tudor John quickly departed, resurfacing at Lehman Brothers the following year).
A key figure of recent years has been David Morley. The firm’s highest-profile banking partner and head of the practice, he moved into management in 2003, becoming senior partner in 2008. Coming from a state school background, Morley was vocal about modernisation and was the driving force behind PRIME, a group that gives legal work experience to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Serving alongside Morley was managing partner Wim Dejonghe: their eight-year tenure at the top was characterised by continued boldness abroad, with an Australia launch to take advantage of burgeoning mining market – also part of a strategy to cover off Asia by launching in Australia, which was subsequently adopted by Ashurst and Herbies.
Morley retired in 2016, with Dejonghe stepping up to the senior partner role and being joined by Andrew Ballheimer as managing partner. Ballheimer and DeJonghe are the first two occupants of the top positions to both be corporate lawyers: in the past, the senior/managing partner roles were traditionally a balance between banking and corporate.
In the mid-2000s the firm’s financial performance lagged the rest of the magic circle – this has since improved dramatically.
Allen & Overy had a long and distinguished history of private client work – George Allen was famously solicitor to King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis – but that finally came to an end in 2009 when the firm demerged its private client department. It is now the boutique Maurice Turnor Gardner.
Allen & Overy was the first magic circle firm to ‘Northshore’ work (moving work from the South to the North in an effort to save money on operational costs), although its Belfast launch in 2011 caused some controversy at the time in terms of job losses as part of the relocation.
The firm traditionally had the longest lockstep in the City, which enabled it to claim the highest partner PEP – but it was limited to fewer partners on a plateau.
|Election||Managing partner||Senior partner|
|1994||John Rink||Bill Tudor John|
|1999||John Rink||Guy Beringer|
|2003||David Morley||Guy Beringer|
|2008||Wim Dejonghe||David Morley|
|2012||Wim Dejonghe||David Morley|
|2016||Andrew Ballheimer||Wim Dejonghe|
What is the trainee salary at Allen & Overy?
1st year trainee: £44,000
2nd year trainee: £49,000
What is the NQ salary at Allen & Overy?
NQ solicitor: £81,000
Number of trainees: 174
ALLEN & OVERY FACTS
Location: Liverpool Street