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Frontrunner eliminated as Linklaters cuts managing partner race to three

Linklaters’ banking chief Gideon Moore, dispute resolution head Michael Bennett and Asia managing partner Marc Harvey have made a final three-man shortlist to replace Simon Davies as the firm’s managing partner.

Moore, a powerful figure within the Magic Circle firm, has emerged as the strongest candidate for managing partner post now that frontrunner Michael Kent has been eliminated from the leadership race, along with Western Europe managing partner Pieter Riemer and co-head of operational intelligence Tom Shropshire.

Sheffield-born Moore has headed Linklaters global banking group since 2011 and his tilt at the top job was boosted recently by his reappointment to the role, despite his candidacy for the managing partner post. Moore faces fierce competition from global dispute resolution head Bennett, a late addition to the managing partner race, and Harvey.

The leadership race, sparked by Davies’ early resignation from managing partner to join Lloyds Bank as chief legal, people and strategy officer, is expected to conclude by 17 November when the firm’s new managing partner will be unveiled at its annual partner conference. The Magic Circle firm’s 12-person partnership board, headed by senior partner Robert Elliott, will put one of the three remaining candidates forward as its nomination for the role, and then the partnership will vote to ratify the appointment.

Hong Kong-based Harvey, who has spearheaded Linklaters aggressive push in Asia since his appointment as regional managing partner in early 2014, is viewed as one of the firm’s top strategic thinkers and has strong support among the firm’s younger partners. At 46 years old he is the youngest partner on the three-man shortlist, but has held a string of management positions at the Magic Circle firm since being appointed head of Hong Kong in 2004. Having spent just six of his 25 years at Silk Street in London, his appointment would herald a departure from the London-centric nature of the firm and reflect Asia’s increasing importance to its top line. 

Bennett, who replaced Harvey as global dispute resolution head in 2014 after his Hong Kong-based rival took on the Asia managing partner role, has been one of the firm’s biggest billers for a number of years and counts oil major BP, scandal-hit security giant G4S and sugar maker Tate & Lyle among his clients. He has strong international support, as he trained at Linklaters’ Tokyo office and has spent time in New York and Hong Kong before settling in London.

Moore, the oldest and the most experienced of the final candidates, is the only partner on the final shortlist not to have been trained at Linklaters, having started his career as a barrister before stints at Magic Circle rival Clifford Chance and DLA Piper. Nonetheless, he has still spent equally as many years as a Linklaters partner as Bennett, and one more than Harvey.

Having spent all of his Linklaters career at Silk Street, Moore has a large following in London and runs a banking group that accounts for almost 25% of the firm’s turnover. Before becoming banking chief Moore spent 10 years as head of leveraged finance with partnership board member Nick Syson.

The winner of the managing partner race will most likely work alongside corporate heavyweight Charlie Jacobs, the out-and-out frontrunner for the senior partner position set to be vacated by Elliott this time next year.