Trowers senior partner-elect set to refresh the brand

Trowers & Hamlins’incoming senior partner has vowed to refresh the firm’s brand when she takes office next year.

The Lawyer revealed yesterday (11 July 2012) that the firm’s’ private equity co-head Jennie Gubbins would replace Jonathan Adlington as senior partner when he retires next year after 12 years in the job. The firm also announced yesterday that it is opening an office in Malaysia and that net profit at the firm in 2011-12 rose 13 per cent.

Gubbins told The Lawyer that she put herself forward for the senior partner job because she “felt very strongly about Trowers & Hamlins”.

“I’ve been here my entire career and I feel like I’ve helped build up the firm,” said Gubbins. “We’ve got a strong firm and a strong brand in a number of sectors and we need to expand that into more sectors. I have a history in both [private and public] sectors and believe I can boost the private sector practice but at the same time keep the public sector practice going strong.”

Gubbins would not comment on the process by which Trowers chooses its senior partners and whether she was appointed or elected, but said that she would continue to fee earn in her new job. Gubbins is a private equity specialist and includes GI Partners and the Housing Finance Corporation among her clients.

Gubbins added that she expects Trowers to continue to look at international opportunities, but that alternative business structures were not high on the firm’s agenda.

“Real estate is a big focus for us,” said Gubbins. “It always has been but it’s not something we’ve shouted about as much as we could have done. We’re seeing the investment deals coming out of Malaysia and believe a firm of our size and footprint is in a good place to do some serious deals. Also, we have a strong construction team.

“My role isn’t about changing the firm or the message; it’s about refreshing the brand.”

Trowers is set to become only the second UK top-50 firm with a female senior partner when Gubbins takes the helm. Addleshaw Goddard is the only other UK top-50 firm (ranked by turnover) with a female senior partner at present, after electing Monica Burch in 2010. A number of women hold similar leadership roles at firms, however, such as Sharon White, who is chief executive at Stephenson Harwood.

Gubbins has been at Trowers for her entire career, joining in 1980, and has held various management roles within the firm. Between 1998 and 2009 she was head of corporate, she has been the firm’s finance partner since 2001 and has co-led the firm’s private equity practice along with Dominic O’Neil since 2006. She will step down as the firm’s finance partner when she begins her new role as senior partner. No replacement has yet been named.

Gubbins declined to comment on whether Jonathan Adlington will return to fee-earning after he steps down as senior partner.