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New brooms for Travers Smith as partnership elects Gillen to senior partner

Travers Smith today (6 November) announced the election of Andrew Gillen as senior partner.

With a term commencing on 1 January 2024, Gillen will succeed acting senior partner Siân Keall, who has been in the role, first in a part-time capacity since January 2023, and then full-time since 30 June following Kathleen Russ’s decision to step down from the role. Keall will remain a member of the firm’s partnership board until the end of her final term in June 2024.

Legal 500 Hall of Famer in equity capital markets, Gillen is Travers’ head of corporate M&A and ECM and is credited with establishing cross-border M&A as a core focus of the firm’s strategy. Gillen also has experience sitting on the firm’s partnership board, having helped guide the firm through the pandemic lockdowns.

Additionally, Gillen heads the firm’s international board, having helped to formalise its approach to international work, including the establishment of an international secondment programme. He also led the introduction of Travers’s PRIME work-experience scheme.

Alongside Gillen’s appointment, the firm has named Heather Gagen as head of dispute resolution, succeeding Rob Fell, Tim Gilbert as head of employment, succeeding Ed Mills, and Susie Daykin as head of pensions, succeeding Daniel Gerring. The partners will start their terms on 1 January 2024.

Gillen said: ‘As senior partner, one of my first priorities will be to retain and enhance our position as a leading independent UK law firm operating internationally. We will continue to develop our core areas of international asset management, complex transactions and global disputes and investigations, whilst seeking to further develop our corporate and institutional client relationships. I look forward to working with all of our partners to further strengthen our business and in delivering outstanding results for our clients.’

It has been a turbulent year for Travers, which suffered disappointing financial results in July. Revenue rose a meagre 1% to £197.5m and PEP flatlined at £1.1m. The firm also saw a steady stream of partner departures earlier in the year. Respected head of private equity Ian Shawyer left for Cleary, while its head of M&A tax Jessica Kemp moved to White & Case. Travers also lost private equity secondaries specialists Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond to Simpson Thacher. Meanwhile, respected private equity partner Genna Marten moved to Linklaters and Dechert poached Samuel Kay for its London financial services and investment management practice.

More recently Freshfields appointed leading environment and regulatory lawyer Doug Bryden to its global ESG and sustainability practice. Bryden was previously Travers Smith’s head of environment and operational regulatory and its co-head of ESG and impact.

Edmund Reed, Travers’s managing partner said: ‘Many congratulations to Andrew on his appointment as our next senior partner. We have known each other for a long time having worked closely as corporate partners and sat on the partnership board together. We have both spent a large portion of our careers at Travers Smith and share a joint passion for the firm’s values and culture, which continues to set us apart from our competitors.’

‘I am very much looking forward to working with Andrew to navigate the next stage of the firm’s evolution and push forwards with our plans for the future. I would also like to thank Siân for taking up the role of acting senior partner earlier this year – she has done an outstanding job. The firm is in a much stronger position as a result of her sage counsel and I’m grateful that she will continue as a member of our partnership board until next summer,’ Reed added.