Legal Business Blogs

Cook flies the coop: Bird & Bird consultancy head quits after leadership challenge

Bird & Bird‘s IT consultancy Baseline has been left leaderless after the exit of long-term partner Dominic Cook following a leadership challenge to the firm’s chief executive David Kerr.

Cook’s sudden departure at the end of May has not yet seen his role as head of Bird & Bird’s transformational projects group or his position as chief executive of Baseline filled.

A Bird & Bird spokesperson said: ‘Dominic has indicated that he wishes to focus his efforts on the development of multi-disciplinary platforms for the delivery of solutions to major technology enabled projects outside of the traditional law firm model. We are very grateful to Dominic for his contribution to the firm over many years and wish him success in his future. Baseline will be announcing a new chief executive in the coming weeks.’

Legal Business understands Kerr was challenged by Cook (pictured), who had been at the firm for more than 25 years. However partners opted to stick with the status quo, and Kerr was re-elected in March this year, meaning he will hit at least 23 years in charge by the end of his current term.

A former partner said Cook had supported making changes at the firm and working on innovative new projects, such as Baseline. Cook had leadership ambitions for some time, having stood against former chair Michael Frie during the firm’s 2013 election for chairman. Frie stood down in 2016, with Italian partner Massimilano Mostardini taking on the role this year.

The spokesperson added: ‘The firm treats the election process as the internal business of partners and as such, strictly confidential.’

Cook had helped found Baseline last year and the firm said since leaving the partnership Cook would support Baseline ‘for a transitional period’. According to the last Companies Housing filing for Baseline, had a turnover of £1m for the year 2014, making a small loss of £3,500.

Partners at the firm said Baseline would keep running and had a strong pipeline of work, despite the departure of Cook. The project has seen partners invest their own capital in the joint venture with ASE Consulting through the subsidiary body AVES Enterprises.

During his time at Bird & Bird Cook worked with major clients such as BT which he advised on its multi-billion pound IT contract for the NHS.

Cook declined to comment.

Read more on the firm in the Focus Feature: ‘David made Goliath – Kerr on Bird & Bird’s re-invention as a leading global TMT shop.’