Eight Allen & Overy partners in running to lead A&O Shearman

Elections at UK Magic Circle firm will determine transatlantic giant’s leadership team

Khalid Garousha Image courtesy of Allen & Overy

Eight Allen & Overy (A&O) partners are in the running to lead the firm as it completes its landmark merger with New York’s Shearman & Sterling.

The UK Magic Circle firm has today confirmed that the two individuals assigned with the crucial task of bedding down its merger with Shearman will be drawn from its ranks.

Three candidates, including interim managing partner Khalid Garousha, are seeking to replace Wim Dejonghe as senior partner on 1 May at the completion of Dejonghe’s second four-year term in the top job.

A further five partners, drawn from the US, the UK, Paris and Hong Kong, have put their names forward to become managing partner. Voting will take place in February.

The successful candidates will take up the reins in the same month that A&O’s landmark merger with Shearman to create A&O Shearman is due to go live, forging a transatlantic law firm with revenue of around $3.5bn, housing 3,950 lawyers across 48 offices.

Significantly, it is now settled that A&O – much the larger of the two merger partners – will supply both A&O Shearman’s global leaders. Previous transatlantic mergers, including those that created Hogan Lovells, Eversheds Sutherland and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, have adopted dual leadership teams, at least in their first years.

Today’s A&O statement said: “Shearman & Sterling partners will hold very significant leadership positions globally and regionally in the combined firm, including within the firm’s executive committee, board, practice group and regional leadership. These positions will be announced in due course.”

Of the three contenders for senior partner, Garousha catches the eye, given that he was chosen to step into the role of interim managing partner in July at a delicate time in the merger negotiations following incumbent Gareth Price’s surprise resignation for personal reasons.

Garousha, an M&A and equity capital markets specialist, is regional managing partner for the Middle East and Turkey and has been based in the United Arab Emirates since 2000.

If he does get the nod, he will be emulating Dejonghe, who was global managing partner before his elevation to senior partner in 2016.

Garousha is up against two London-based partners who head up heavyweight practices: Philip Bowden, who ran against Dejonghe for senior partner four years ago and co-heads of the firm’s global banking practice, and David Lee, chair of the global projects, energy, natural resources and infrastructure board.

While all three contenders for senior partner are men; two women feature in the five-way tussle for managing partner: Angela Clist, head of advanced delivery – legal services, and Vicki Liu, co-head of banking and Hong Kong managing partner.

The line-up is completed by Paris head Hervé Ekué, New York-based David Lucking, who heads up the global international capital markets group, and Dirk Meeus, a compatriot of Dejonghe who co-heads the global corporate team. The Brussels-based partner stood for the role in the last round of elections.

The merger to create A&O Shearman was approved by both firms’ partnerships in October.

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