With a month to go before nominations open, several names are already emerging in the Allen & Overy (A&O) leadership race to replace senior partner David Morley and managing partner Wim Dejonghe next year.
Some sources believe corporate chair and financial institutions co-head Richard Cranfield could put himself forward for the senior partner role, having lost out to Morley back in 2008. However, others question whether he will go for the position again remarking he “may have been around too long”.
Cranfield, who joined A&O back in 1985, could be going up against long-serving dipute resolution head Tim House, who is described by one source as a “safe pair of hands”. Both Cranfield and House are expected to stand against Dejonghe, who has been managing partner since 2008, while Morley is set to retire from the position when his term ends.
Another source noted that while House would have support in London, he could find himself up against former Amsterdam head Arnold Croiset van Uchelen who is “quite charismatic and pretty popular in the other offices”. Dejonghe himself is also a former European office head, having managed A&O’s Belgian offices from 1996 to 2008.
Meanwhile banking co-head Stephen Kensell is believed to be throwing his hat in the ring for the managing partner position, with several sources saying he “fits the profile”.
He could run against corporate co-head Andrew Ballheimer, who “may want to do something like that to prolong his management positions”, while other contenders include finance partner John O’Connor and corporate partner Richard Browne.
One source close to the firm said Browne has “effectively been managing partner of the corporate department for a long time and has taken his role very seriously”. The source added he is also “a relatively aggressive manager to ensure the department is run as effectively as possible”.
Other potential contenders for the managing partner role include employment partner Karen Steward, with a source saying she is “a strategic operator, who has turned the employment team around”.
Meanwhile other sources cite banking partner and board member Cathy Bell-Walker as another possible candidate, particularly if she wants “more of a figurehead role”.
Candidates will be able to put themselves forward from mid-December, with the election expected next February. One A&O partner noted “it would be important to consider what combinations would work well” in the election, saying the firm had been “led very well under the pairing of Dejonghe and Morley”.
A&O and all candidates declined to comment.