Legal Business Blogs

Leadership: Eversheds favours client management specialist Paul Smith in chairman vote

Eversheds has named litigator and former Tyco relationship partner Paul Smith as its next chairman as current incumbent John Heaps steps down.

The partnership voted in favour of Smith in the third week of November against corporate partner Robert Pitcher, who also stood for election. Smith will begin his four year term on 1st May 2014.

Smith (pictured) specialises in environmental law and disputes and has defended a number of multinational companies in criminal investigations in the UK, Europe and North America. However, he has been most commonly known as a pioneering client relationship partner for DuPont and Tyco, and was named Lawyer of the Year at the 2008 Legal Business Awards for his work in securing its revolutionary single-supplier agreement with Tyco.

Heaps was elected chairman in May 2010 for a four-year term and chose not to stand for re-election following turning 60 in Autumn 2013, a spokesperson at the firm confirmed.

Heaps said: ‘Paul’s deep experience of both the firm where he has worked since its inception in the late 1980s and of the international legal market equips him very well for the role. I wish him every success.’

Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes added: ‘On behalf of all Eversheds partners, I would like to congratulate Paul on his election success and look forward to working with him in the years ahead. The combination of his intimate knowledge of the firm, wide international experience and client relationship expertise, makes him an ideal person to take on the role of chairman as the firm continues its global development.’

Smith said: ‘I am honoured to have been selected as Eversheds chairman and am very much looking forward to taking up the role next year and working with the executive team to ensure that our strategy is implemented and playing my part in making Eversheds even more of a worldwide success in the future.’

Smith takes a senior role at a time when the firm has been performing reasonably well financially, with revenues growing 3% to £376m in 2012/13. Profit per equity partner also grew from £515,000 to a record high of £640,000 over the last four years.

However, the election of Smith may be perceived as a response to criticism of the firm’s leadership, which has come under fire for being effective internally but lacking visibility with clients.