As you’re sipping your double espresso this afternoon, spare a thought for Charlie Geffen. The Ashurst senior partner must have been on tenterhooks all night, waiting to receive the good news that partners voted overwhelmingly in favour of the full financial marriage of Ashurst with its Aussie mate, Ashurst Australia (née Blake Dawson).
Ashurst’s equity partners in the UK, Europe and Asia had their last chance to cast an electronic ballot at 5am UK time this morning, while the firm’s Aussie cohort travelled to Sydney for a show of hands at the same time.
In a particularly romantic touch, the vote came to an end on the second anniversary of the firm’s initial vote in favour of the combination back in September 2011.
While this morning’s vote cemented the merger, insiders reckoned that the financial tie-up was already a done deal. They may well have a point. Blake’s name change, tweaks to both firm’s equity structures, and a new management set-up had already set the ball rolling for a process which was effectively a rubber stamp on the firm’s marriage certificate.
In many ways, however, the vote was just the prologue to the real party – Ashurst’s upcoming election on its newly-established chairman role, which is due to kick off tomorrow. Geffen is expected to face off against popular litigator Ben Tidswell and Sydney-based competition and consumer protection partner Peter Armitage.
If Tidswell or Armitage triumph, it’ll put a full stop on Geffen’s five-year supremacy. Would having a disputes partner at the helm signal a change in direction for Ashurst? And would the firm really go for an Aussie chief?
At the moment, Ashurst is posing more questions than answers – but the wedding party is always much more revealing than the ceremony itself.