Addleshaw Goddard elects Middle East and Asia head as new managing partner

Andrew Johnston to succeed John Joyce following latter’s decision to stand down early

Andrew Johnston Image courtesy of Addleshaw Goddard

Addleshaw Goddard (AG) has chosen Andrew Johnston as its next managing partner.

Johnston, who has served as the firm’s head of Middle East and Asia since 2019, will begin his four-year term at the start of next May. He succeeds John Joyce following the latter’s decision to stand down a year ahead of the end of his third term as managing partner. 

The appointment follows an uncontested election and marks the first time that AG has named a lawyer based outside the UK as managing partner. Johnston will return to the UK from the UAE to take up his new role, the firm said. 

“My ambition is for AG to double in size by 2030,” Johnston said. “I am looking forward to the firm capitalising on the strong platform created under John's leadership and using it as a springboard for greater success. We will continue to invest where clients need us the most and I will be giving as much focus as I can to ensuring that we flourish as a thriving global business, dominant across the UK, with greater influence in the City."

Johnston joined AG in 2013 from K&L Gates to lead its M&A practice in the Middle East and became a member of the firm’s board the next year. Earlier in his career he worked for Clifford Chance in London before being seconded to the Middle East.

AG said Johnston had led it to a record performance in the Middle East. It was the firm's fastest growing region in the financial year ending April 2023, posting 43% income growth in a year when the firm’s global revenue grew 18% to £443m. Earlier this year the firm also announced plans for a new office in Riyadh, its fourth in the region, and said it is targeting revenue growth in the Middle East of 60% over the next five years. 

For his part Joyce will step down at the end of next April after a decade at the helm, having become managing partner in 2014 and being re-elected in 2017 and 2021. 

Commenting in September on his decision to stand down early, Joyce noted he’d introduced a two-term limit for managing and senior partners and had “never intended” to serve a third term, but had done so to avoid the firm having an election during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As managing partner Joyce has steered AG through mergers with Scottish firm HBJ in 2017 and Ireland's Eugene F Collins in 2022. He has also overseen the firm’s international expansion over recent years, with four offices opening in Germany, and one in France and Luxembourg. Today, non-UK revenue represents half of what was the firm’s entire turnover in 2013.

Over the past nine years AG said its partner count had grown from 178 to more than 380, while income had risen from £166m in FY2013/14 to £443m and profits for the same period had risen by more than 200%. The firm's balance sheet is also noticeably stronger, with a closing cash position at the end of FY2022/23 of £146m compared with a deficit in FY2014-15 of £16m.

AG's senior partner, Aster Crawshaw, said: "Thank you again to John who has been instrumental in Addleshaw Goddard becoming one of the most successful UK-headquartered international law firms and many congratulations to Andrew.

“I am hugely excited about the next phase of Addleshaw Goddard's development with Andrew as managing partner. The energy he will bring to the role will drive forward the firm's strategy, performance, culture and client relationships."

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