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‘Challenges ahead’: Ashurst litigation veteran Ed Sparrow takes on top CLLS job

Ashurst litigation veteran Ed Sparrow has taken on the chairman post at the City of London of Law Society (CLLS), amid a turbulent time for legal representative bodies.

Sparrow (pictured) takes the job as the legal sector moves closer to substantive reform of its representative bodies, with the government exploring making legal service regulators independent from their representative bodies.

Sparrow, who will remain at the firm as a full time partner, has more than 20 years’ experience running major litigation. He will bring his expertise in dealing with City-related, M&A and financial disputes, financial services regulation, and professional negligence and fraud claims. He has been a partner at Ashurst since 1981 and previously sat in the firm’s management board.

Sparrow replaces outgoing chairman and former senior partner of Travers Smith Alasdair Douglas who announced he was stepping down from the role after five and a half years in June. Douglas is to become the new chairman of solicitors’ pro bono charity LawWorks.

The CLLS, which was largely created as a reaction to the Law Society’s focus on High Street law firms at the expense of large City firms, represents around 17,000 City lawyers. Senior figures in the legal market have suggested the CLLS take up a more prominent role, with better funding, should the Law Society be stripped of its practicing certificate fee income if the SRA wins its bid for independence. The body’s critics, however, feel it is too lightweight to influence the government.

Sparrow said he was ‘honoured’ to take on the role where he will be responsible to represent the views and concerns of member firms and promote good relationships between City firms, policymakers and other key stakeholders. He added: ‘[I] look forward to building on the progress that the CLLS has made under Alasdair’s chairmanship. As he rightly says, there are many significant challenges ahead’.

CLLS chief executive David Hobart said: ‘Edward Sparrow has a deep understanding of the issues currently facing the profession, and recognises the core priorities of City firms. I am very pleased to welcome him to the role.’

Read more on Ed Sparrow’s career in: ‘Life During Law – Ed Sparrow

For more on the representation in the City see: ‘Taxation without representation – would you pay for the Law Society to represent you?’