Herbert Smith Freehills senior partner Palmer sees off leadership challenge to retake role

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has re-elected James Palmer as the firm’s senior partner, for a second term in the role.

Palmer (pictured), who has been senior partner since February 2015, saw off competition from global intellectual property head Mark Shillito to take another three-year term, which will start on 1 May.

In 2015, he was appointed to the role ahead of three other contenders – Australian deputy senior partner Mark Crean, EMEA head Allen Hanen and dispute resolution partner Tim Parkes, all of who have since left the firm.

He joined legacy Herbert Smith as a trainee in 1986, making partner in 1994. He was equity capital markets co-head from 2005 to 2010, and later became global head of corporate, holding the post for two years from 2010. From 2002 to 2006, he was also a member of legacy Herbert Smith’s partnership council.

He will continue to chair HSF’s firm’s partnership council and will lead the firm alongside chief executive Mark Rigotti.

Palmer said: “I am delighted and greatly honoured to be taking on a second term as senior partner. Our partners and staff continue to help the firm build its reputation and success, winning and helping clients around the world through a deep commitment to our service to them. I look forward to working with all our colleagues and our leadership team in pursuing our strategy and ambitions. The firm continues to perform well in our markets globally and remains superbly placed to strengthen still further.”

Rigotti added: “The senior partner has an integral role to play in representing HSF externally with clients, as well as working with the global council to ensure the ongoing success of the firm, and James has done a fantastic job to date.

“The re-election of James will bring a degree of stability and continuity to the implementation of our strategy. I look forward to continuing to work closely with James in our vision to become a world-class professional services business, bringing together the very best people to achieve the best results for our clients.”

A number of current and former partners had speculated that Shillito had opposed Palmer in order to act as a voice for partners who are unhappy with the firm’s current direction.

Shillito stepped down as US and UK litigation head ahead of his leadership challenge, with that role set to be assumed by banking litigation chief Damien Byrne Hill on 1 May.