Last Monday (5 February) Olswang sent a few ripples through the legal market when it revealed that its iconic chief executive Jonathan Goldstein was quitting.
Goldstein, at the ripe old age of 40, already has almost a decade of experience as a law firm head under his belt and was keen to try something new. Consequently, when client (and home of long-time Goldstein buddy Gerald Ronson) property business Heron International came knocking, Goldstein listened and eventually succumbed to the offer to become joint managing director.
Goldstein’s exit coincided with the other major management appointment of the past seven days, that of Linklaters’ incoming managing partner Simon Davies (www.thelawyer. com, 2 February). The firm’s Asia chief won out first against head of banking John Tucker and ultimately capital markets head Nick Eastwell in the magic circle firm’s fiercely fought managing partner battle, with Linklaters’ 500-plus partners voting for Davies following a recommendation from the firm’s international board.
At just 39 Davies will become Linklaters’ youngest-ever managing partner when he takes over from incumbent managing partner Tony Angel in January 2008.
However, his arrival is unlikely to herald any major strategic shift at Linklaters.
“I’ve been a member of ExCom [the firm’s executive committee] for many years,” says Davies, “and have had much input into the current strategy of being market leaders. I want to ensure we continue to provide our high level of service to our clients and ensure our people have the opportunity to grow and develop within the firm.”
French finance partner makes Ashurst board
In what was a busy month for management moves, Ashurst expanded its management board to include French finance partner Laurent Mabilat (www.thelawyer. com, 19 January), increasing the representation of Continental Europe on the firm’s board.
Two incumbent Ashurst board members, litigation partner Edward Sparrow and transport, energy and infrastructure partner Logan Mair, were also reappointed following a contested partnership vote.
Outside the City, Bristol-based Osborne Clarke reappointed Simon Beswick as managing partner for another four-year term following an uncontested election (www.thelawyer. com, 25 January).
The move followed a period of extensive management reshuffling at Osborne Clarke during 2006. In May the firm replaced IT partner Simon Rendell, who was in charge of its London office, with partner Paul Gardner as head of the commercial practice group.
Rendell succeeded Tim Birt, who was elected to the post of senior partner last March, taking over from the retiring Leslie Perrin on 1 May 2006.
National firm Davies Arnold Cooper also made a managing partner appointment, installing litigator Rowan Planterose as its new head, effective from 2 January (www.the lawyer.com, 5 January).
Planterose replaced former managing partner David Hertzell, who stood down after 14 years in the role.
Camerons’ all-equity dismissal shocks market
The few remaining all-equity partnerships in the UK legal market have been under threat for some time now, yet it still came as a major surprise when one of the arch-proponents of, and recent conversions to, the all-equity partnership structure performed an astonishing U-turn.
On 25 January www.thelawyer.com broke the news that CMS Cameron McKenna was overhauling both its partnership structure and management committee. Most significantly, the firm that had embraced an all-equity partnership structure only three years ago revealed that it was ditching it to allow for the creation of a layer of salaried partners.
The development coincided with the news that Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, another all-equity partnership, was to introduce a discretionary bonus into its managed lockstep. Together with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer‘s equity partnership revolution, the portents for the remaining all-equity partnerships are not good.
Camerons’ Dick Tyler, whose tenure as managing partner will end next year after two four-year terms, denies that the move away from all-equity is a major departure for the firm. He insists that it gives flexibility to the partnership and says the salaried tier is not a precursor to de-equitisation.
“This isn’t a major departure from our previous approach,” Tyler claims. However, the all-equity partnership structure was only introduced in 2001, at which point the distinction between junior and senior partner was removed.
Camerons also appointed three new practice heads for its UK-based corporate, banking and insurance groups. Will Meredith becomes the new UK head of banking, while Andrew Sheach takes over corporate and Liam O’Connell now leads the insurance group. Respectively, they have taken over from Duncan Aldred, Guy Billington, who is retiring, and Anthony Hobkinson, each of whom having served eight years, the maximum amount of time allowed.
A&O associate achieves global management team placement
One of the most surprising recent management moves came from Allen & Overy (A&O), which last month appointed an associate to its global management team as part of its ongoing associate retention scheme (www.thelawyer.com, 2 February).
Employment associate Penny Caven has joined the firm’s management team, which is made up of key practice heads, international heads and support function heads.
Caven’s influence may give heart to some of the ranks of associates who are rejecting partnership prospects, a fact revealed in The Lawyer’s inaugural YouGov survey of the legal profession (29 January).
The survey, the largest-ever statistical research project of its kind, found that nearly two-thirds of solicitors in the UK’s top 10 firms were not aiming for partnership.