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Travers’ former tax head Kathleen Russ elected as senior partner successor to Chris Hale

Travers Smith has nominated former tax department head Kathleen Russ (pictured) as its new senior partner, to succeed long-serving Chris Hale whose term comes to an end 1 July 2019.

Russ is a relative veteran in her own right, acting as a partner in the firm’s tax practice since 2001, and heading the team between July 2007 and January 2017.  

Described as ‘business-savvy’ by The Legal 500, Russ has acted on a number of mandates for property company Zoopla and notably advised TA Associates on the acquisition of the Single Strategy asset management business from Old Mutual Wealth.

Russ told Legal Business she plans to retain a significant amount of her client work upon becoming senior partner, but noted there has been a ‘gradual shift’ in her role after stepping down as head of the tax department last year.

She was coy on specific campaigning initiatives and instead ‘wanted to focus on the future.’ Russ said: ‘Our firm is going from success to success. We’ve got a strong M&A practice and disputes is absolutely flying. I want to showcase everything that is special about the firm.’

On Hale, she commented: ‘Chris has been a phenomenal senior partner and throughout my career someone I have respected and admired. He will have big shoes for me to fill.’

Russ’s elevation brings Hale’s senior partner stewardship to an end, having held the position since 2013. Hale was originally elected in 2013, before being re-elected at the beginning of last year. He stood unopposed after championing a professionalization of the firm’s support services.

Hale said: ‘I have worked with Kathleen Russ for many years both on transaction work and as a member of the Travers Smith partnership board. I have seen how dedicated she is to the firm and that she has all the qualities to make an outstanding senior partner.’

On current trajectory, Russ will be taking over a firm with consistent and healthy revenue growth. The City independent posted its ninth consecutive year of financial growth in the summer, with revenues climbing 18% to £146.9m.

Travers continues to be a well-respected player in the private equity sphere, with long-standing client Bridgepoint proving a fruitful source of business in recent months. In June, Travers advised Bridgepoint on the £1.5bn sale of food chain Pret a Manger to JAB Holding Company.

But the firm’s dispute team has also been making waves. Earlier this year, newly-installed disputes head Rob Fell claimed the team had its ‘best year ever as a disputes practice’.