Addleshaws’ management faces fresh revolt

Addleshaw Goddard partners are bracing themselves for a contested election, with two names surfacing as challengers to incumbent managing partner Paul Devitt more than a year before his tenure ends.

Paul Devitt
Paul Devitt

Addleshaw Goddard’s former head of real estate Adrian Collins and the firm’s current head of business support and restructuring John Joyce are understood to be the likely contenders in the battle for the top job.

Devitt’s second term as manager partner comes to an end on the 30 April 2015. He was first appointed as managing partner in 2009 and began his second term in January 2012 after an uncontested election (12 January 2012).

Sources close to the firm said that the prospect of another uncontested election was causing concern in some quarters of the partnership, with factions forming over perceived weaknesses in Addleshaws’ leadership and the on-going absence of a significant merger.

The rumblings of discontent come alongside the news that former Eversheds head of finance operations and treasury Colin Brown was appointed as Addleshaws’ finance director in November, with longstanding chief financial officer Martin Gaskin leaving the firm in December.

Addleshaw Goddard confirmed that Gaskin had left and said in a statement: “Martin gave loyal service to the firm over a long period and we are grateful for that and wish him all the very best”.

The firm was unwilling to discuss the circumstances surrounding Gaskin’s departure.

Sources suggest that partners in Leeds have led a campaign for Joyce and Collins to stand against Devitt having heard about Gaskin’s sudden departure, although it is believed that efforts have been made to placate the partners concerned.

A spokesperson for the firm said that there was no formal campaign underway at this stage and it was unlikely to begin before the new financial year.

Addleshaw Goddard has a history of quelled leadership challenges. In October 2012 Devitt sent an email to partners (16 October 2012) telling them that Leeds-based commercial disputes and arbitration specialist Simon Kamstra would run against Burch for the senior partner job. However, Kamstra withdrew his candidacy just weeks later and Burch was automatically re-elected (26 October 2012).

Addleshaws’ latest LLP accounts revealed a £4m increase in its bank borrowing and a 10.5 per cent rise in the value of its debtors from £76m to £83m in 2012/13.

While Addleshaw Goddard posted a revenue drop of 2 per cent from £170m to £167m in May (31 May 2013), the audited accounts show that revenue fell from £168m to £164m at the end of 2012/13.

Recently there has been a period of internatonal growth for the firm. Addleshaws opened its first overseas office in Singapore in May 2012 (4 April 2012), followed by Dubai in September 2012 (11 July 2012) and an association with Nasser al Habsi in Oman in March 2013 (15 January 2013). It was also granted a preliminary license to practise in Hong Kong in May 2013 and announced a new Qatar office (28 May 2013).