Ashurst partners oust Geffen in shock chairman vote

It’s been a month of tough questions for Ashurst partners. First they had to vote on the firm’s full financial tie-up with Aussie mates Ashurst Australia, before deliberating over which of the three partners jostling for the firm’s newly-established chairman role – incumbent Geffen, popular litigator Tidswell or Sydney-based Armitage – would best fit the post.

We predicted that the latter vote was one to watch, and boy did it deliver. As partners cast their final ballots yesterday, it became clear that litigator Ben Tidswell had unexpectedly pulled ahead to knock the firm’s senior partner off Ashurst’s top spot which he has held since 2008.

As of 1 November, the longstanding board member will begin his five-year term as chairman, taking a key strategic role at the firm alongside current global managing partner James Collis.

So, as Geffen prepares to clear his desk, and Tidswell looks forward to putting his feet up in his swanky new office, one question remains: How much difference will the transformation in management really make?

While Tidswell says that “there’ll be no major change in emphasis,” some insiders reckon that his disputes background could hail a new era of litigation-focused leadership for the firm.

Either way, we look forward to finding out what tricks Tidswell has up his sleeve.

For more on Ashurst’s recent shape-shifting adventures, see our timeline Ashurst and Blake Dawson: countdown to merger and our blog, Election fever.

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