Ashurst has elected formidable M&A veteran Karen Davies to succeed Ben Tidswell as its global chair, making it the latest major law firm to elevate a senior female partner.
Davies, who is currently UK head of corporate and a member of the global board, will begin her four-year term as chair in August.
She has long been recognised as one of the City’s most prolific and influential dealmakers, no mean feat given the historical boys’ club environment that was certainly still in existence as she climbed the ranks.
Speaking to Legal Business, Davies said: ‘I’m really proud, I feel privileged. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being on the board over the last four years and acting as UK head of corporate. For me, it’s the opportunity to serve the firm and to take us to the next phase of our growth, which is going to be a really exciting time. We’ve got our defining strategy and we’ve had a fantastic year and it’s now about taking us to the next level.
‘I absolutely want to carry on with the fee-earning – doing deals is what I love. We have a fantastic business in corporate, we have hugely talented senior partners, excellent junior partners that I’ve helped to bring through over the last few years and some really strong senior associates. We have a very strong bench that will support me on transactions. Being close to clients and doing the transactions is important for you to understand client issues, so I definitely want to strike that balance.’
Tidswell noted: ‘Karen has an outstanding track record in delivering for our clients, our people and the business and I know she will make an extraordinarily good chair.’
Global managing partner Paul Jenkins echoed the sentiment: ‘I have worked very closely with Karen as UK head of corporate and a member of our board and her ability to combine management and leadership roles with a very successful practice is truly impressive. Her incomparable commitment, client focus and drive will be invaluable to the firm in her new role.’
For his part, Tidswell has been much-admired for helping steer Ashurst through some difficult years following its 2013 merger with Blake Dawson, alongside Jenkins. He is standing down from the partnership and has accepted a judicial appointment as a panel chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
The new configuration of the board will be: chair Karen Davies (London), global managing partner Paul Jenkins (London/Sydney), partners David Jones (London), Tobias Krug (Frankfurt), Phil Breden (Sydney), Kylie Lane (Melbourne), chief financial officer Mark Herbert (London) and independent board members Wu Gang and Robin Lawther.