DLA Piper’s first senior partner contest in a decade is down to three candidates after the first round of voting closed on Friday (26 January).
London-based international corporate head Bob Bishop, emerging markets managing director Andrew Darwin, and corporate partner Jon Hayes now face 10 days of hustings before the firm’s new senior partner is announced on 12 February.
The trio advanced to the second round from a large pool of eight partners who were vying for the position following last year’s surprise departure of Juan Picón to Latham & Watkins.
Brussels competition partner Bertold Bär-Bouyssiere, Paris employment partner Bijan Eghbal, and Madrid corporate partner Iñigo Gomez-Jordana missed out alongside London’s finance partner Charles Morrison and Iife sciences co-chair Bonella Ramsay.
Darwin and Hayes were both strongly tipped to make the second round, while Bishop was also seen as a strong candidate. Ramsay, the only female candidate, was considered a good chance for a spot in the final three, given her history working alongside co-chief executive Simon Levine after the pair left Dentons for DLA in 2005 as part of an eye-catching 11-partner switch.
The high-profile veteran Darwin is a member of the firm’s global board and was formerly the firm’s chief operating officer, head of corporate, and managing partner in the UK and Australia. A former DLA Piper partner said Darwin’s experience and knowledge of the firm could provide a suitable counter to the relative period of instability caused by Picón’s short tenure and resignation.
Meanwhile Hayes, a former Linklaters corporate partner on DLA’s international board, was described as ‘sensible and a class act’. Bishop is co-chair of the global corporate group and holds the same role for its M&A practice.
The firm is deploying a single transferable vote system, split into two stages because of the large number of candidates. The most popular three candidates from the first round of votes progressed to the second stage.
Picón, who first joined DLA in 2006 from Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, had been elected senior partner in March 2016 after running uncontested. He replaced long-time leader Sir Nigel Knowles , who last year joined DWF to become its chair.
Picón was one of DLA’s biggest billers and during his time he strengthened the firm’s relationship with Vodafone after being instructed on its €7.2bn acquisition of Spanish broadband company Ono. His move to the highest-grossing firm in the world, Latham, from the one that used to hold that position was fuelled by his desire to spend more time in his native Spain.