Pinsent Masons faces management shake-up

Pinsent Masons partners are warming up for the firm’s first contested leadership elections since incumbent managing partner David Ryan was elected in 1999.

David Ryan
David Ryan

It will also be the first election since Pinsent Masons merged with McGrigors in May 2012 (6 February 2012).

Both managing partner and senior partner elections had been due to take place in October 2012 but were postponed in light of the merger.

Renewing or extending Ryan’s term and changing the retirement age in the partnership deed to allow the top rung of management to serve for longer is thought to have been part of the merger package for Pinsents partners, with the election rolled over to the 2014/15 financial year.

Pinsent Masons said in a statement: “We can confirm that the firm is likely to hold management elections at some stage in the next financial year although no dates have been decided.”

The first election is expected no sooner than the autumn and it is unclear whether it will be Ryan or senior partner Chris Mullen who will face the first ballot. Sources close to the firm suggest there is an appetite for a change of management but said Ryan and Mullen are expected to discourage an open election.

Ryan was elected managing partner at legacy Pinsent Curtis ahead of his opponent, the firm’s Birmingham head of litigation, Carl Garvie (18 October 1999).

He ran uncontested at the end of 2008 and was elected to serve a further four-year term from March 2009 (1 October 2008).

Meanwhile, Mullen took over as senior partner mid-term in 2004 when Julian Tonks stepped down due to illness and was re-elected to serve a four-year term in 2008 (30 June 2008).

One former partner mooted the McGrigors acquisition as one good reason to maintain the status quo and said: “Two years into a merger you probably want to avoid a contested election because its not fully integrated yet.”

Another highlighted the difficulty the firm will face identifying suitable alternatives to the incumbents with the firm is split into four distinct constituencies of Pinsents, Masons, McGrigors and laterals.

Addleshaw Goddard recently confirmed it would be holding its management election a year early due to managing partner Paul Devitt’s decison to stand (17 March 2014).