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‘Evolution, not revolution’: New A&O management team sets sights on US, Europe and China growth

Continued and steady growth is the key focus for Allen & Overy‘s new management team, with senior partner Wim Dejonghe and managing partner Andrew Ballheimer setting their sights on growth in the US, China and Europe.

Elected until 2020, Dejonghe (pictured left) and Ballheimer (pictured right) say their goal is to ‘keep growing in a quality way’. With Dejonghe describing it as ‘evolution, not revolution’, international growth was pinpointed as a goal for A&O’s management, with a focus on clients and sector focused organisation. This is a change that Dejonghe sees as a cultural shift away from the firm’s traditional corporate, finance and litigation practice focus.

The pair list a focus on the funds industry, the finance industry, private equity, TMT and regulatory compliance as sectors the firm will be looking to grow.

Both Dejonghe and Ballheimer acknowledge the importance of US growth to the firm, but will not put a time frame on expansion, with the firm open to possibilities. ‘We know a lot of people, we talk to a lot of people, I think the reality is there are two legal systems that are exportable in the world; it’s English law by definition and US law. American law is gaining market share and we are building our practice to deal with that.’
He added: ‘There’s no one quick fix and there’s no one conversation, it’s just a steady building of our practice which I think we’ve done pretty well, and will continue.

Dejonghe also said the firm’s US focus was not confined to the states, there are plans to expand its US law offering across the firm’s international offices.

‘There’s a misconception that it’s just about New York, it’s about growing US law capability across the world. It’s not about how big your US office is, it’s about how credible your US law offering is around the world. We’ve got a US practice here, we’ve got one in Hong Kong and Singapore, we’ve got one in Germany, one in the France, and that’s how we have to look at it, and that’s how you come to this kind of size.’

The firm’s new management team also plan to grow in both Europe and China. Dejonghe said: ‘There’s a bit of growth to be done in one or two areas of [Europe], we’re 90% there.’

On the China question, Ballheimer added: ‘In terms of China, obviously the outbound play is a very important and we need a good offering there with probably a bit more [growth].
Outside those three areas I think our firm is very well built, in terms of both the quality and coverage, and also client mix so it’s more of the same.’

But with eight years of management experience under his belt and steady growth across his tenure as managing partner, Dejonghe doesn’t see immense change to the firm’s successful structure.

He added: ‘Obviously I’ve been in Andrew’s role for the past eight years, so don’t expect a huge change. We’ve had a good run in the last seven or eight years, I think we’ve really taken market share, we’ve built our network and focused on the innovation space, and we will continue doing that so expect more of the same. We’ve got a clear direction and we’ll just keep on going.’