Simmons & Simmons set for global management shake-up

Simmons & Simmons is planning a radical overhaul of its management structure to increase representation for its international offices.

At the moment none of Simmons’ partners outside London are represented on the firm’s executive, despite accounting for some 25 per cent of the firm’s turnover.

The firm has two committees – a strategy committee and an operations committee. The strategy committee is chaired by senior partner Bill Knight, with managing partner David Dickinson sitting ex officio. Seven or eight other elected partners represent the junior, mid-tier and senior partnership.

The operations committee is chaired by Dickinson and includes Knight ex officio and the other heads of department.

The firm is considering a new structure which would introduce one board with representatives from all the offices, and individual executive committees in each jurisdiction.

Knight says: “It’s something we’re discussing because as the firm has more of a foreign component we have got to find a way to make sure we get adequate representation across the world. That’s what we are struggling with at the moment.

“What we are looking at, and it hasn’t been decided yet, is to have an executive committee for London and the others run by the international managing partners.”

Simmons had a turnover of £117.3m for 1999-2000, with a quarter of that coming from the overseas practices. The Hong Kong office had a particularly good year – most notably winning new client Pacific Century CyberWorks, and advising it on its merger with Cable & Wireless and on an alliance with Telstra.

The firm has 11 offices outside the UK, with strong representation in southern Europe. It also has the recent addition of a Düsseldorf office in Germany through a merger with local firm Kaiser.

Knight says: “When we set up [the current system] in 1994 we had separate committees because we wanted to make sure that strategy was never overlooked and the trouble is that if you have a single order the day-to-day things tend to crowd out the longer-term view.

“The firm has grown, and now we can have day-to-day dealt with around the world and just bring the board together from time to time.”