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Withers re-appoints longstanding chief Robertson to fourth term after uncontested election

Private wealth specialist Withers has re-appointed Margaret Robertson as chief executive for a fourth term following an uncontested election, meaning she will lead the firm until 2021.

Longstanding leader Robertson has overseen the rapid internationalisation of the firm from one to 17 offices and a decade of consecutive revenue growth in which Withers added almost £100m to its top line.

She joined the firm in 1984, becoming head of litigation and employment in 1992. As strategy partner, she oversaw Withers’ merger in 2002 with Connecticut-based law firm Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds, as well as its conversion to LLP status in the UK.

Since her appointment as sole managing director in 2007, Robertson has driven huge overseas expansion across America, Asia and Europe in a bid to push into markets for high net worth clients.

She was re-appointed three other times at the helm of the firm, most recently in 2015 following another uncontested election.

In its most recent financial results, the firm grew revenue by 8% to £174.5m and profit per equity partner (PEP) to £381,000 in 2016/17. Top line grew by 54% in the previous five years.

In 2015 Robertson secured a formal alliance with Singapore law firm KhattarWong. That year Withers also opened a tax practice in Tokyo, Withers Japan Zeirishi Houjin, and three new offices in California with a team of 9 partners, most of them from McKenna Long & Aldridge before its merge with Dentons. Having launched a tax practice in Dubai in 2016, Withers now has over 160 partners in 17 offices across America, Asia and Europe.

In July 2017, a team of 12 lawyers including three partners, led by Mabel Lui from Winston & Strawn, joined the Hong Kong office.

Withers has also been expanding its partner promotion rounds lately. The firm announced today (16 July) that it had promoted 14 to the partnership, up from eight last year, in what Robertson described as a ‘reflection of the strong performances across our international business’.

Five of the newly promoted partners are based in London, including tax lawyers Alana Petraske and Lara Crompton, banking lawyer Xanthe Lok, inheritance expert Alessia Paoletto and commercial litigation lawyer Lesley Timms.

Robertson said in a statement: ‘We are glad to promote talented new partners across our practices and to bring them into the firm’s leadership across our European, US and Asia offices.’