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Diversity guaranteed in Linklaters senior partner race as Jacobs takes JP Morgan role

Charlie Jacobs, senior partner, chairman and rainmaker of Linklaters has taken the road less travelled for outgoing law firm leaders, landing himself the role of co-head of investment banking at JP Morgan.

The audacious move will see Jacobs (pictured), who in January announced he was leaving the Magic Circle firm in October after 30 years, replace banking industry stalwart Ed Byers as he is promoted to the solely client-facing role of vice chair of UK investment banking. Jacobs will join existing co-chair David Lomer in the dual role.

Jacobs was elected senior partner and chair of Linklaters in 2016, moving into management from the position of being one of the most high-profile M&A lawyers in the City. He has garnered much respect from peers and partners alike for a dynamic management style that put team building, collaboration and client relationships at the fore.

According to an internal memo sent to JP Morgan staff, Byers – a leading corporate broker who led the integration of Cazenove to become a wholly-owned part of JP Morgan in 2010 – actively had a hand in hiring Jacobs as his successor. Byers, Jacobs and Lomer will all report to Dorothee Blessing and Conor Hillery, co-heads of EMEA investment banking.

Meanwhile Linklaters will be holding a contested election to replace Jacobs in May and looks increasingly likely to follow in the footsteps of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which last September elected its first-ever woman as senior partner in the form of Asia disputes head Georgia Dawson.

Corporate head Aedamar Comiskey, a true M&A heavyweight and one of the most influential partners in the Square Mile, is hotly-tipped among the candidates, alongside London corporate partner Sarah Wiggins, Milan-based Western Europe managing partner Claudia Parzani and Tom Shropshire, a former London corporate partner and now US practice head.

The election looks likely to herald a vote for diversity, whichever way the ballot goes.

Jacobs’ move into the rarefied world of investment banking may not exactly open the floodgates for law firm leaders to swerve the common course of consultancy and non-executive director positions for an industry switch, but it will be interesting to see if other grandees try.