Lovells’ hopefuls gear up for managing partner race

Five favourites emerge to fill incumbent Lesley MacDonagh’s shoes; decision due in November

Lovells has started the process to replace managing partner Lesley MacDonagh, with five partners emerging as early potentials to fill the role.

It is understood that the firm is in the first stages of the race in which partners can put their own name forward or can be nominated for the position by their colleagues.

The election is taking place one year earlier than expected after The Lawyer exclusively revealed (12 July) that MacDonagh was stepping down before the end of her term.

A hugely popular managing partner, MacDonagh has won the role unopposed three times. Likely contenders for the position span a wide range of practice areas within Lovells, and all of them serve on the firm’s international executive. These include finance group leader David Harris, regional managing partner for Western Europe and head of the EU, competition and trade practice John Pheasant, and head of international property Robert Kidby.

Kidby stood for the role of senior partner to replace the incumbent Andrew Walker, with John Young eventually winning the election.
Other potentials include head of dispute resolution and the international litigation practice Patrick Sherrington and tax partner Don Kelly, who holds the post of regional managing partner for Asia.

The pre-nomination phase will end on 27 August and in early September Lovells’ partnership council will meet to arrange the election process. Equity partners will then vote on their choices, with the top three candidates expected to be revealed by 6 October.

A vote will then take place at Lovells’ partnership meeting in late November.

Lovells declined to comment.

David Harris
Harris is practice stream leader for finance, so this should ensure a decent block vote. However, partners may prefer someone from a more specialist area.
Don Kelly
Kelly is a London-based finance partner and the regional managing partner for Asia. His performance in building up Lovells’ China practice has given the tax partner a high profile internationally. But on the downside, being a tax partner may not help Kelly, given that his department is not as prominent as corporate or litigation.
Robert Kidby
Will it be second time lucky for property head Kidby? The ‘Godfather of the Mexican Wave’ was eliminated after the first round of the senior partner elections. However, Kidby’s general popularity both internally and externally makes him a strong contender.
John Pheasant
Pheasant is the regional managing partner for Western Europe and head of the EU, competition and trade practice. He is likely to be supported by overseas offices.
Patrick Sherrington
As the practice stream leader of dispute resolution, Sherrington also benefits politically from being in charge of a strategically important division.