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‘Ambition, confidence and opportunity’: Eversheds selects new members of its senior leadership team

Eversheds Sutherland has announced several new appointments to its senior leadership team across its practice groups and business services teams.

Succeeding Paul Worth, who is retiring at the end of December following 21 years at the firm, Mark Davenport will take on the role of litigation and dispute management practice group head. Davenport led the commercial dispute resolution team for the last three years. Taking on Davenport’s role as head of CDR is Lisa Barge, the former head of real estate litigation, whose boots will in turn be filled by Will Densham.

Meanwhile, from 1 November, James Trafford will take over from Gurjit Atwal, who has decided to step down after four years in the role of real estate practice group head. Atwal will continue to be a part of the real estate leadership team, as well taking on a new role as the firm’s social mobility partner sponsor.

Finally, Rob Bullough has joined Eversheds as the firm’s chief property officer, taking over from Paul Dunn who is retiring from before the new year after 11 years of service at the firm. Bullough arrives at the firm from UBS, where he spent the last 17 years working in leadership positions within the real estate team.

‘It will be different,’ said Trafford in an interview with Legal Business, explaining what his appointment to the role of real estate practice group head means for his day-to-day. ‘I will be responsible for co-leading our global real estate practice and forming our strategy. I have had various management roles before so I can build on that experience. I have spent 20 years in our real estate team building and leading our teams. I see myself spending more time with our partner group and I will be involved in developing our strategy.’

He added: ‘The last few years I have been leading the financial aspects of our business, which is a really important part of the practice head role. I was also involved in the recruitment of lateral hires in Dubai, Paris and Edinburgh, where I got to understand those markets really well and appreciate them as areas of growth for our business.’

Asked how he will split his time between fee-earning client work and management, Trafford responded: ‘I will maintain my client partner roles. We are very keen for practice heads to retain client-facing involvement. We are better at leading our teams if we do, as clients lie at the heart of everything. I am keen to understand what drives them and their pressures.

‘I will spend less time leading projects and working as a fee earner though. There is a long lifespan for the kind of energy and infrastructure work I do, so going forward my time is going to be weighted heavily towards management.’

Trafford detailed his approach to taking over the role from his predecessor and making it his own: ‘I have spent a while working with the two preceding practice heads and I have tried to learn from them. I have a clear understanding of what the role entails, which I see as a link between the partners and the executive team. Communication is super important, and I also care deeply about the next generation – I want to foster the right environment for them to progress.’

Probed further on what his appointment represents for the firm and its overall strategy, Trafford replied: ‘It means that real estate is core to our firm. I wouldn’t want to do the job if that wasn’t the case. We offer solutions to complex real estate mandates and we are well-placed to win and deliver competitive work. We spend a lot of time developing a one team working culture which works really well, and I have been encouraged by other firms who see us as a competitive threat to their business.

‘In three words, I would say our practice group strategy is: Ambition, confidence and opportunity.’