Two-partner race set for top HSF post

It’s corporate versus litigation in the Anglo-Australian firm’s coming senior partner election

Two-partner race set for top HSF post

The race to the top of the Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) partnership has become a two-partner affair.

James Palmer and Mark Shillito are standing for election as the Anglo-Australian firm readies to select its new senior partner in mid-March. The firm is expected to conduct just one voting round and require that the winner receive more than 50% of the vote.

It has emerged that Shillito is challenging the incumbent Palmer, shedding more light on his move to hand over the reins of the firm’s UK and US disputes practice to long-time partner Damien Byrne last week.

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Palmer, who was widely expected to stand for election again, is a legacy Herbert Smith partner. He has more than 30 years at the firm, which he joined in 1986 as a trainee solicitor. He became partner in 1994.

Palmer he has been a leader of HSF’s corporate practice, having led the global equity capital markets group from 2005 until 2010, when he became the global head of corporate.

Palmer stood down as global head of corporate in 2012 and was elected as senior partner in 2014. He edged Australian deputy senior partner Mark Crean in the final voting round. London litigation head Tim Parkes and Europe, Middle East, and Asia managing partner Allen Hanen were also considered in the selection.

Shillito is also an HSF lifer. He also joined the firm as a trainee and became a partner in 1996. When legacy Herbert Smith combined with Australia’s Freehills in 2012, he became the head of the global firm’s UK and US disputes practice. Shillito was the disputes group’s leader as it opened in New York in 2012. He is still the firm’s global IP head.

There were earlier rumours that Paula Hodges QC, the firm’s global arbitration practice leader, would also run for the office.

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