Today is an important day at White & Case.
As I write, the firm’s New York lawyers will be yawning themselves awake, rubbing their tired little eyes and remembering that today (21 January) is the deadline to vote on their new global management committee.
Of course, in Europe – and more pertinently in London – most of White & Case’s equity partners will probably have already ticked their boxes.
Throw in the fact that three London partners, including celebrity London banking head Maurice Allen, are standing for a coveted place on the eight-member committee, and you’ve got yourself a real tussle.
Up against Allen is existing committee member Peter Finlay and partner Tom Stopford. Sources close to the firm say the three don’t always see eye to eye, so there could be plenty of drama in the making.
For a committee where Europe is woefully under-represented, the White & Case vote, and a contribution from the successful London office, is actually very important for determining the future for the firm.
Less than a week ago, White & Case sources were saying that it looked pretty certain Allen would get elected. One told The Lawyer: “Even though New York partners roll their eyes when you mention [Allen], they do recognise that he’s done good things for the London office.”
And anyway, who could forget all the managerial experience Allen gained while running Weil Gotshal & Manges‘ London office all those years ago?
But in the last couple of days there’s been a shift. I’m now being told by well-placed sources that Allen doesn’t have a chance of winning a place on the committee (lawyers are such fickle creatures).
Still, this may not bother Allen. One source claims that Allen didn’t really want to stand in the first place, that he’s not really bothered about it and he hasn’t even put together a manifesto and only did it because lots of people asked him to.
Strange, then, that someone so casual would have a campaign manager in the guise of banking partner and ex-Weil colleague Rachel Hatfield.
If Allen does end up getting a place on the White & Case committee, it is a clear indication that the firm’s European partners are flexing their muscles.
And if the conservatives in New York hold sway? Well, they’ll need a modernising influence from somewhere. There’ll be a few more power struggles yet.