Legal Business

Ceasefire or guerrilla skirmishes – Ashurst struggles to reconcile its post-merger factions

Jaishree Kalia reports on the uneasy peace still hanging over the post-merger Ashurst

It’s been over eight months since Charlie Geffen, the high-profile head of Ashurst, suffered a bruising leadership defeat to litigator Ben Tidswell (pictured) in the wake of the City firm’s merger vote with its Australian partner.

There was no doubt the election defeat of the strong-willed Geffen, who divided the City firm’s partnership into staunch supporters and embittered opponents, and the legacy of its merger with Australian leader Blake Dawson had unsettled the firm. The discharge of Geffen as the ‘war-time’ leader who carried the firm’s strategy and brand through the post-Lehman years is still hard to take for some, while the merger has not convinced everyone. The somewhat ill-tempered resignation in November of highly rated corporate co-head Stephen Lloyd for Allen & Overy (A&O) was an all-too visible sign of that tension – and the lack of engagement felt by the ‘boys’ club’ in Ashurst’s corporate finance teams.