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‘One man one vote’: HSF set to vote for new senior partner as Jonathan Scott decides to step down early

Jonathan Scott, who began a five-year term as senior partner at Herbert Smith Freehills in May 2010, will step down early, sparking a four-man race for one of the most powerful roles at the firm.

The Herbert Smith Freehills’ 453 strong partnership is set to vote on whether London-based corporate heavyweight James Palmer, London head of litigation Tim Parkes, Sydney-based deputy senior partner Mark Crean or Moscow-based managing partner of EMEA Allen Hanen replaces Scott. The cutoff date to run for senior partner has long since passed and the vote will be concluded by the end of this week.

Hanen ran against Scott (pictured), who was one of the main drivers for Herbert Smith’s merger with Freehills in October 2012, for senior partner in 2009 and has garnered a reputation within the firm for bringing forward innovative ideas.

Scott announced his plan to retire from the firm, after 35 years of service, to the HSF partnership at the end of summer. He will step down on 31 January 2015, three months earlier than scheduled, with his replacement set to head up the influential Partnership Council.

Palmer, who headed the corporate practice between 2010 and 2012, recently lost a partnership vote to Crean for a spot on the Partnership Council. He and Parkes are two of the longest-serving partners of legacy Herbert Smith, having made partner in 1994 and 1987 respectively. Parkes had a successful spell as head of Herbert Smith’s Asia wing and sits on the Partnership Council alongside Crean. Hanen is on the firm’s Executive Committee, with Palmer the only partner in the race for senior partner not to currently hold a management position.   

One partner at the firm commented: ‘It’s dead straight forward. One man one vote. It’s so straight forward that we wouldn’t be able to get it wrong.’

HSF said in a statement: ‘We can confirm that Jonathan Scott will be retiring as senior partner early next year. A procedure to appoint his successor is already in place and we hope to announce the outcome of that process shortly.’

For more Legal Business analysis of Herbert Smith Freehills’ internal dynamics see: Consumed – Can burning ambition from Down Under recast Herbert Smith for the global stage?