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27 May 2021

Ashurst elects UK corporate head as first woman chair 

Karen Davies to replace Ben Tidswell in August as he heads for Competition Appeals Tribunal 

By Madeline Anderson

Portrait of Karen Davies

Ashurst’s UK head of corporate, Karen Davies, has been elected as the firm’s global chair, becoming the first woman in the firm’s history to take on the leadership role.  

Davies will begin her five-year term in August when she replaces longtime chair Ben Tidswell, who is leaving the firm to serve as chairman of the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) in July.  

Davies was one of two women in the running for the role, alongside fellow London partner and global loans head Helen Burton. London corporate partner Jason Radford was also in consideration for the role.  

At Ashurst, the chair role is a non-executive one, meaning Davies will oversee the firm’s strategic direction parallel to the operational leadership provided by global managing partner Paul Jenkins.  

She has been a member of the board since 2017 and will continue in her capacity as a corporate partner advising clients on domestic and cross-border corporate finance, M&A and equity capital markets transactions. 

"It is an honour to be elected as Ashurst's chair," she said. "I am excited about the future and what Ashurst will achieve.” 

Jenkins added: "I have worked very closely with Karen as UK head of corporate and a member of our board and her ability to combine management and leadership roles with a very successful practice is truly impressive.” 

He also paid tribute to Tidswell, chair for the past eight years, for “his exceptional contribution to Ashurst”. 

Tidswell joined Ashurst in 1993 and has been a partner in the London dispute resolution team since 2000. His appointment to the CAT was announced in March. 

With Davies’s appointment, Ashurst joins a number of top firms recently electing women to senior roles. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer became the first Magic Circle firm to appoint a woman leader when it named Asia managing partner Georgina Dawson as its next senior partner back in September. Earlier this month, Linklaters followed by electing global corporate head Aedamar Comiskey as its first female senior partner in its almost 200-year history.  

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