Allen & Overy gears up for contested management election with eight partners in the running

Eight partners are set to slug it out for the top management positions at Allen & Overy, with the firm gearing up for leadership elections early next year. 

The firm announced the final shortlist today for both the managing and senior partner positions.

Current managing partner Wim Dejonghe, disputes head Tim House, banking co-head Stephen Kensell and competition partner Michel Struys will all contest the election for senior partner, replacing David Morley who is retiring from the firm.

Meanwhile, corporate co-head Andrew Ballheimer, Tokyo corporate finance partner Simon Black, banking co-head Andrew Trahair and London banking partner Michael Castle, will all run for the managing partner post currently held by Dejonghe.

The firm does not hold a formal husting process but candidates for the top positions are encouraged to canvass partners to drum up support over the coming months.

In a statement A&O said: “Elections for Allen & Overy’s senior partner and managing partner will take place in February 2016 and the results will be announced publicly at the end of the month. David Morley and Wim Dejonghe will complete their terms of office on 30 April 2015.”

The elections are being conducted on behalf of A&O by Electoral Reform Services.

Legal Week reported in June that Ballheimer, Kensell and Trahair were all likely to run for firmwide management positions. House and Castle were linked to the senior and managing partner roles respectively in November.

The senior partner candidates in more detail:

Wim Dejonghe – M&A partner Dejonghe has been managing partner since May 2008. Over that time A&O has consistently reported a steady rise in revenue from £1.09bn in 2008-09 to £1.23bn in 2014-15. Profit per equity partner has also risen from £1m to £1.21m.He is regarded as a personable and charming individual, whose track record in firm-wide leadership comes after a successful stint as head of the firm’s Belgium office prior to becoming managing partner.

Stephen Kensell – One of Dejonghe’s  biggest rivals for the senior partner post will be Kensell, who took over as the head of the banking practice alongside Andrew Trahair in May 2008. He was previously head of the global loans group and is dual-qualified in the UK and Australia. He joined A&O in 1994 and became a partner four years later.

Tim House – House became head of the firm’s dispute resolution practice in 2012 and since this point has overseen an increase in the practice’s contribution to the firm’s revenue from 15% to nearer 20%. He is well respected among the partnership.

Michel Struys – Competition partner Struys works from the firm’s Paris and Brussels offices. He acts mostly on cartel investigations, abuse of dominance cases and on complex merger control issues.

The four managing partner contenders in more detail:

Andrew Ballheimer – As co-head of A&O’s global corporate practice, Ballheimer has long been touted by partners as an obvious choice for a firm-wide management role. The practice has grown in scale and significance and he is well known among the wider partnership. He has been co-head of the practice since 2010, when he and Amsterdam-based partner Sietze Hepkema replaced Richard Cranfield and Amsterdam-based partner Jan Louis Burggraaf.

Andrew Trahair – Banking practice co-head Trahair’s name has also been linked with the forthcoming elections for some time. He has headed the firm’s banking practice since 2008 after joining in 1989 and became a partner in 1994. He was appointed to head up the firm’s Singapore office in 2002.

Michael Castle – Finance partner Castle does not currently hold a management role at the firm. He has experience of cross-border banking transactions including general lending, structured finance, asset finance, emerging markets and restructuring.

Simon Black - Corporate finance partner Simon Black is based in the firm’s Tokyo office. He advises on financings and corporate investment in a range of sectors including infrastructure, transport, water, telecommunications, power, and oil and gas. A former navy man, he was previously the managing partner of the firm’s mainland China operation.