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Eversheds starts talks on new management structure as leadership election looms

Eversheds has begun talks to forge a new leadership team as the firm strives to avoid a divisive contest after current chief executive Bryan Hughes steps down next May. Current managing partner Lee Ranson is expected to take Hughes’ role in a management structure with two other partners.

Legal Business understands that current international managing partner Ian Gray’s post will change or a new role may be created, while global company commercial head Keith Froud is likely to be appointed as the new managing partner by Ranson.

A senior partner at the firm said: ‘Ian’s role is likely to change, possibly a new role will be created for Ian but ultimately they are still talking about it, basically none of it is firmed up.

‘Keith and Ian are likely to be Lee’s two lead partners on the executive working alongside him in the running of the firm. I don’t think we are going to get too hierarchical about it, they will both have extremely important roles.’

The talks have been regarded by some partners as part of a bid to avoid a divisive leadership contest pitting Ranson against Gray. The change of leadership comes also as a sensitive point for Eversheds, which has consistently struggled to sustain growth since the banking crisis.

However, senior partners are divided as to whether there will be much change in the current strategy once Hughes steps down.

One partner said: ‘I guess the guys need to consult with the partnership and Lee will, I’m sure, do that as part of the process. I wouldn’t have thought anything too radical though.’

However another added: ‘Every new exec team brings its own strategy so I would be very surprised if they don’t bring their own ideas and an innovative approach going forward. I would be very surprised if it is a roll on situation.’

Ranson (pictured) declined to comment but last September said he was positioning himself for the chief executive role after being tasked with leading a ‘Growth Agenda’ following the firm’s subdued performance for the financial year 2014/15.

Ranson said: ‘Where I am at the moment, the next logical step for me would be chief executive – all things being equal in 12 months’ time.’