Herbert Smith restructures

Herbert Smith is carrying out a radical review of its internal structure, which could lead to the reintroduction of the role of managing partner.

The review has been commissioned by incoming senior partner Richard Bond, who is chairing a six-strong committee. The committee is made up of representatives from each of the firm's practice areas – property, corporate and litigation – as well as Paris managing partner Neil Brimson and Hong Kong managing partner David Willis representing Europe and Asia.

The firm has commissioned Harvard Business School professor Jack Gabarro as a consultant. Gabarro teaches the university's professional services management course.

It is understood that one of the main considerations is to better represent the firm's foreign offices in its management structure, possibly by putting representatives on the firm's executive.

Another idea being mooted is to bring back the role of managing partner which was scrapped when Andrew Congreve retired in 1993.

After an external review by management consultants, the firm replaced the job with a partnership council to deal with strategy and an executive that deals with day-to-day matters.

Parkes oversees the support functions of the firm, and chairs the executive.

But it is understood that some partners now believe this is an unwieldy management structure for a firm of Herbert Smith's size and that the firm needs stronger day-to-day management.

Executive partner Tim Parkes' term comes to an end on 1 April.

He says: “It is because the firm has grown since the present structures were put in place, which goes back to when Edward Walker-Arnott became senior partner seven years ago.

“Richard Bond thought it was maybe time to look at the firm and rejig the structures. I would expect that in a month or two there will be proposals to look at both the practice side and the management side.

“In 1993 when Edward Walker-Arnott became senior partner we must have been just over half the size we are now.

“The focus [of the review] is general, right across the board. I hope the results will be very interesting.”

The results of the review are subject to a worldwide consultation process with partners.