Nabarro’s Johnston stepping down early from senior partner role

Nabarro senior partner Simon Johnston is set to stand down from the position roughly three years earlier than planned, the firm has announced.

Johnston will step down at the end of this year, remaining at the business “for a time” during a transition period once it has selected a replacement, the firm said.

His successor is is set to take over at the start of 2013, with the election process effectively underway already.

Partners will receive information about the election procedure imminently, with the firm aiming to complete the vote and announce a senior partner-elect by the end of October before the partners’ conference in November. The process will be overseen by the partnership board, which Johnston chairs, but the management of the procedure will be handled by managing partner Andrew Inkester and David Sargison, the secretary to the board.

Johnston’s five-year term was set to end in 2016 following his re-election to a third term effective in May 2011 (3 February 2011). His decision to stand down means he will have been in the role for 12 years.

During his term, he oversaw Nabarro Nathanson’s rebrand to Nabarro (28 February 2007) and, earlier this year, a process to slimline the partnership to improve profitability (28 May 2012).

It is understood that he had been considering standing down mid-way through his third term and took the decision this summer to pass the job on to a successor.

He told The Lawyer he was keeping his options open with regard to his next move, with options including a role in industry, although a purely legal in-house position is unlikely.

He said in a statement: “This has been a very difficult decision for me to make. I had originally intended to step down in 2010 after two terms in the role, but did not feel then that it would be in the best interests of the firm to hand over the reins given the general economic climate and that we were involved in detailed discussions regarding our London head office property needs. Given we are now growing both the top and bottom line, and we are in the process of finalising our property needs, I am now able to take this step.”

He added: “Although I will miss the job, the time is now right to bring a fresh perspective to the leadership of Nabarro and, with our legal market rapidly changing, it is appropriate for the firm to have as senior partner someone who can commit to staying with the firm in the longer term.  It will also give me the chance to explore some of the opportunities that have been presented to me over the last few years outside the law.”

The firm is in advanced negotiations over a move from its Theobald’s Road address to 125 London Wall, amid plans to lease space for its City headquarters from JP Morgan Chase.

Inkester, who was appointed to his position last year, said: “Although I understand Simon’s rationale, we are sorry he is standing down. His dedication to the firm and his passion for its business and its people will be missed. The good news is that Simon is handing on Nabarro in good shape to his successor.”