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‘Cementing KWM’: Australian chief exec Kench elected as new global managing partner

After going months without a global managing partner, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has appointed Australia chief executive partner Sue Kench to the role, effective 1 June 2017.

Kench succeeds Stuart Fuller, who stepped down from the role at the end of 2016 during the collapse of the firm’s European arm, and has since returned to full time practice.

Kench has been chief executive partner in Australia since 2013. She is also currently a member of the firm’s global executive committee and the international management committee. In her new role, she will work with recently-appointed global chairman Wang Jungfeng.

Kench joined legacy Mallesons in 1996 and held leadership positions such as managing partner of the real estate and construction practice, sector lead in real estate and construction and board member.

KWM said in a release that Kench will lead the firm’s global strategy and operations ‘with a focus on cementing KWM as leading international firm in Asia’.

Speaking to Legal Business, Kench said: ‘The key for us really is to bring the firm closer together, integrate the businesses better and harness the opportunities that are out there for us. When coming into Asia, we should be the first firm that people recognise. And if Asia clients want work done outside the region, our other capabilities should be capturing that work as well.’

‘We will have a stronger focus on all of the component parts that make up integration, and what work should we be attracting beyond Australia and China. There’s no other firm like us in the world. That’s the differentiator, and we have to use that to the maximum.’

The firm has also announced the appointment of Rupert Li as global chief operating officer (COO) and Berkeley Cox as Kench’s replacement, as chief executive partner in Australia. Li was international partner within China and Hong Kong, and is also a current member of the international management committee and the China management committee. Cox was deputy managing partner for Australia.

Last month Legal Business revealed KWM Europe partners who took out personal loans from Barclays for their capital contributions had received payment ultimatums. Former KWM staff have also come together earlier this year to take legal action over the way redundancies were handled, as the administrators’ investigation into the collapse of the legacy SJ Berwin business.

Read more: ‘Shattered – The final days of ‘SJ Berwin’