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Old or new BLP: Which way will the firm turn with its next managing partner?

Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s (BLP) head of employment Lisa Mayhew will face off against corporate chief David Collins in the battle to replace Neville Eisenberg (pictured), the firm’s managing partner for the last 16 years.

Eisenberg, who is set to finish his fifth term as managing partner on 30 April, has already announced his intention to replace Harold Paisner as senior partner late last year.

One partner described the two-person shortlist as a ‘battle of old BLP versus new BLP’, with Collins putting forward a vision to return the former glories of the firm’s finance and corporate groups, while Mayhew hopes to continue the firm’s successful push in real estate.

Mayhew, who was elected head of the firm’s employment, pensions and incentives practice in late 2013, has been a board member for the past two years and was the driving force behind the firm’s commitment to make 30% of the partnership female by the end of 2018.

She has close relationships with head of real estate Chris de Pury, who backed her gender diversity target amid criticism from other parts of the firm, and chairman Robert MacGregor.

MacGregor, who was parachuted in from Clifford Chance in 2004 to resurrect what was at the time a flagging real estate team, is known to be backing Mayhew. One partner told Legal Business: ‘Lisa is a good political operator. She’s very well liked and would tow the Robert line. The support of Chris de Pury could be crucial as he could be the kingmaker. He calls a lot of the shots.’

Highlighting the contrast between the two, a source at BLP said: ‘David Collins is not MacGregor’s man. Collins represents old BLP and he has more power now than he did have following the exits of several senior partners last year.’

Collins, who has been a partner at BLP since 1996, has also been on the board for the last two years, gaining a seat when he was appointed head of corporate in April 2013. He has been involved in the firm’s strategy for longer than Mayhew, having sat as a member of the firm’s strategy group, a position he gained when he was made head of corporate finance in 2001.