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Ashurst leadership contest – Mary Padbury for vice chairman

The latest instalment of Ashurst’s senior management elections has seen Ashurst Australia’s chair Mary Padbury voted in as vice chair of the newly-merged firm just days after partners said no to incumbent head Charlie Geffen for the chair role in favour of Ben Tidswell.

Padbury, who was widely-tipped for the vice chair post, held a number of management roles at legacy Australia Big Six firm Blake Dawson, which formally merged with Ashurst in September, including as the firm’s resident London partner from 2001 to 2003 and as an executive partner with responsibility for the firm’s national corporate, competition and intellectual property practices from 2003 to 2005.

Having served as a member of Ashurst LLP’s board since March 2012, Padbury – who will take up this latest five-year term with effect from 1 November 2013 – led the merger talks on behalf of her firm.

In the interest of democracy, the vote on the vice chairman role was open only to Ashurst Australia.

Tidswell, who the firm announced on Wednesday (16 October) had been elected into the chairman role, said: ‘Mary will play a critical role in the firm’s future and I congratulate her on her appointment. Mary’s substantial leadership experience as chairman of Ashurst Australia combined with her intellect, energy and strategic insight will be invaluable to us as we enter this next stage to our development.’

Padbury added: ‘I am really excited to take on this role and to get an opportunity to work closely with Ben and James Collis, our managing partner, to realise the benefits of the full merger for all our clients and people wherever they are situated across the firm’s practice. I feel particularly privileged to be part of the team with the responsibility of taking our new merged firm forward.’

While Tidswell is said to have the social skills needed to draw together the partnership and was a popular member of the board, his election was nonetheless a surprise defeat for Geffen.

The result is being interpreted in some quarters as a backlash against Geffen’s efforts to push through the merger, a claim denied by Tidswell, who as a board member was heavily instrumental in the merger.

Elections for Ashurst’s board will take place shortly. The board will comprise 14 members including the elected chair and vice chair, along with the managing partner, four elected legacy LLP partners, an elected Asia partner, three elected legacy Ashurst Australia partners, two independent members, and a non-voting CFO.

For more details on Ashurst’s merger and leadership contest, including the recent election of Bed Tidswell as chairman, see Ashurst says no to Geffen for chairman in surprise election result and Comment: The air of unreality – can the big deal deliver for Ashurst?