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Pinsent Masons scraps leadership for life amid top-down management restructure

Pinsent Masons has made a series of changes to its management structure, including the introduction of fixed terms for those in leadership positions, the formation of an operations committee and the cession of decision-making control to the board.

Board members, which include both the managing partner and senior partner, will now serve a four-year term, with a maximum of two terms, while group heads and sector heads will serve three-year terms, also for a maximum of two stints. The changes mean senior partner Richard Foley’s current term ends in 2018, while the length of John Cleland’s term as managing partner is currently under review.

The changes also see the nine-member board become the primary decision maker for the firm, while an operations committee, chaired by Cleland and comprised of both sector heads and practice group heads, will deliver and execute board decisions.

According to Foley (pictured) the changes, which have been made over the last year, are designed to help speed up decision-making and create opportunity by ending ‘jobs for life’.

Speaking to Legal Business, he said: ‘We decided on the changes as a package and we have been implementing them as we have been rolling them through. Partners didn’t vote. We had some really good consultation. We went out to a number of partners and we were very open with them. We said: “Look, we aren’t going to consult with everybody, but we are going to consult with a really broad cross-section.”‘

Foley added: ‘Both John in his process of election to managing partner and more so with me with my election to senior partner, signalled that there were some ways we could reorganise ourselves to make us more successful. The partners knew it was coming and it has been warmly received.’

Substantive changes to the leadership structure were last considered during the firm’s merger with McGrigors in 2012. It is understood that the firm had not considered installing fixed terms for its leaders before because the series of mergers over the last two decades made continuity at management level more desirable.

In addition to these changes, the firm has recently made a number of senior appointments as part of a wider process of modernising its leadership.

Pinsents, which was named the 2016 Legal Business Law Firm of the Year last month, is enjoying a period of sustained growth, including a 12% increase in revenues for the financial year 2014/15, recently appointed Alastair Mitchell as its first chief operating officer and Pauline Egan as the board’s first non-executive member.