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Ashurst board to select next managing partner as Collis prepares to step down in May

Ashurst is on the look-out for the firm’s next managing partner as current head James Collis is to stand down after completing his term at the end of May 2016.

The firm has started a selection process to find its successor and will announce the successful candidate in due course. The new leader will be Ashurst’s first board-selected head since its chairman Ben Tidswell was elected to the run the firm in 2013.

Tidswell said: ‘During his term [Collis] has successfully guided us through a large merger, the substantial growth of our business in Asia, the establishment of a highly successful legal and business support office in Glasgow and the implementation of our new strategy.’

Collis added: ‘I feel that now is a good time to return to the finance practice and let someone else direct the firm in this next stage of its development.’

Collis was appointed as the firm’s head in May 2012 when he was 41 years old. He trained at Ashurst and became a partner in 2005 and was a banking partner in Paris before taking on the management role

He succeeded Simon Bromwich who stepped down to become head of the firm’s dispute practice.

Collis will continue in his role as managing partner until the end of his term and will support the board in their search for his replacement.

The board, which includes Tidswell, vice chairman Mary Padbury, chief financial officer Brian Dunlop, partners Cristina Calvo, Mark Vickers, Jennie Mansfield, Roger Davies and Angela Pearson; as well as independent board members Robert Gillespie and David Turner – will select the successor.

Many partners have cited Simon Beddow, the firm’s global co-head of its corporate, competition and tax division, as a likely forerunner, although some have argued a finance partner would be a better option given the firm’s changing direction.

One partner told Legal Business: ‘The next head will have to accept the direction is changing from corporate to finance. The firm is moving towards a focus on investment banks so you query whether the next managing partner should come from corporate or finance.’

Another added: ‘The managing partner role is effectively the executive arm of the board so its members will pick a person whose ideas are in line with the board.’

Another partner indicated that the role could be offered to a partner not based in the City and said: ‘The firm has gone through a lot of change these past few years. This role is not about covering London but a global firm. It could well fall into the hands of a partner not based here.’