Herbert Smith Freehills launches management elections as co-CEOs retire

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has kicked off the process to appoint new leadership with current joint CEOs David Willis and Gavin Bell set to retire from the firm.

Willis (pictured left) and Bell (pictured right), who have been in the roles since the legacy firms Herbert Smith and Freehills merged in October 2012, will step down in April 2014.

The Herbert Smith Freehills Global Council – the firm’s governance body – will decide whether the dual role will be replaced by a single CEO or whether the role will continue to be undertaken jointly, with the appointments process expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Before merger talks between Herbert Smith and Freehills began, Willis’ term as managing partner of Herbert Smith had been due to end in April 2013. He agreed to a 1-year extension because of the merger.

Bell has been managing partner of Freehills since 2005 and has decided to devote more time to his family following a major health issue earlier this year from which he has now fully recovered.

Senior partner Jonathan Scott said: “David and Gavin are two of the principal architects of the merger. We are hugely appreciative of their outstanding work in the period leading up to the merger and they have been very successful and effective joint CEOs. That the transitional management structure more broadly has worked well is in no small way down to their contributions.”