Lisa Mayhew, Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) head of employment, pensions and incentives, has beaten the firm’s corporate chief David Collins to become the firm’s next managing partner.
Mayhew will replace current managing partner Neville Eisenberg, who is seeking support to become the firm’s next senior partner, as he steps down after 16 years at the helm. The vote concluded earlier this morning, with Mayhew confirmed this afternoon as one of the few female managing partners in any of the UK’s top 20 law firms alongside Herbert Smith Freehills’ co-chief executive Sonya Leydecker.
Elected head of the firm’s employment, pensions and incentives practice in late 2013, Mayhew 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 will take up her new position on 1 May 2015.
Prior to her arrival at BLP, Mayhew was co-head of employment at Jones Day and has also been a partner at Hogan Lovells. Lisa Mayhew said: ‘BLP has come a really long way in a relatively short space of time. We’re a progressive and ambitious firm and everyone recognises that a change in leadership creates opportunity to drive positive change. When I take up the role in May, I want to build on the innovative, high performing and inclusive culture that we already have to help ensure that our great people work collaboratively across the globe to provide a first-class service to our clients.’
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 pushed for the expansion of the firm’s successful real estate team.
Eisenberg added: ‘The election process was positive and constructive. Since joining the firm, Lisa has demonstrated her leadership qualities as an elected board member and in leading a number of firmwide initiatives such as our inclusivity Programme. Lisa’s vision for the firm clearly resonated with partners and I very much look forward to working with Lisa during the handover period.’
Her opponent in the election, Collins, has a longer history at the firm having been a partner at BLP since 1996 and has been involved in the firm’s forward planning since he gained a seat on the strategy group when he became head of corporate finance in 2001. Alongside Mayhew, he has also been on the board for the last two years, gaining a seat when he was appointed head of corporate in April 2013.
However, during the election campaign, Mayhew gained the support of real estate head Chris de Pury, who backed her gender diversity target in 2014 amid criticism from other parts of the firm, and chairman Robert MacGregor.