Travers’ new boss to focus on London

Chris Hale to shore up London HQ as Travers Smith senior partner


Prerequisites for being a good senior partner include respect among colleagues, longstanding internal knowledge of the firm and a way with people that makes you an impressive representative of the business.

Chris Hale has these attributes as, perhaps, Travers Smith’s most illustrious corporate rainmaker of recent times and a giant of the private equity world. He confirmed widely held expectations he would move up from head of corporate when Chris Carroll retires this year, and got the job after partnership soundings left Hale as the standout candidate.

Early indications are that Hale will do things differently from Carroll, most notably in international relationships.

Among other things, Travers has carried out a review of its US referral relationships following moves by some allies such as Goodwin Procter, Proskauer Rose and Ropes & Gray to bulk up in London. It has also started focusing on Miami and the BRIC nations.

But while Carroll spent a lot of time travelling the world building referral ties, Hale will focus more on shoring up the centre of gravity in London as well as, presumably, the small Paris base.

The central focus for the new boss is business development, something this traditional firm has been looking at more carefully recently.

In particular, Hale is completing a review of its sector initiative and could add a sixth industry group, probably natural resources, to its roster of leisure, retail, financial services, infrastructure and media. The focus to date has been on leisure, but following a successful trial in this area, Travers is now looking to push ahead with the strategy in the other sectors.

Hale will spend around 30 per cent of his time on fee-earning, in contrast to Carroll’s almost total dedication to the leadership role.

He is also the first Travers figure since Christopher Bell 13 years ago to become senior partner without stepping up from managing partner, a path both Carroll and predecessor Alasdair Douglas took.

For a firm like Travers, that’s what you call change.