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Eversheds chair joins DWF as non-executive director

David Gray to play a ‘key role’ in driving further growth

4 June 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Top-100 UK law firm DWF has today announced that it has appointed David Gray as a non-executive board director.

Gray was chair of Eversheds International for four years and was previously chief executive for six years. He is also pro chancellor and chair of council elect at Leeds University.

Gray's arrival follows several mergers and acquisitions by DWF between January 2012 and February 2013, namely Crutes, Buller Jeffries, Biggart Baillie, Fishburns and Cobbetts.

Commenting on the appointment, managing partner Andrew Leaitherland said: “We’ve had a number of great opportunities recently which have allowed us to significantly expand our national presence. As part of the next phase of our strategy we will also be looking to further drive expansion, both nationally and internationally and with David’s experience and guidance, we believe he will play a key role in helping us achieve this.”

London in particular will be a key focus for further development. "I think we have a really dominant position in the regions now, particularly on the M62 corridor across Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. I think we're where we wanted to be, with maybe a bit more insurance to go in there. Birmingham will continue to grow, Bristol will continue to grow, London will grow significantly and we will look for the right opportunities overseas," said Leaitherland in a recent Managing Partner interview.

"In the next few years, I'd say we'll have opened half a dozen or so international offices, but none of them massive and all of them client specific," he added.

The appointment forms one of a few in which former leaders of international law firms have been recruited by smaller firms as non-executive directors, with most non-executive directors having been recruited from the corporate or professional services sectors. It follows, for example, SJ Berwin’s appointment of Tony Angel, formerly Linklaters’ firmwide managing partner, as a non-executive director in March 2011. Angel subsequently joined DLA Piper as global co-chair.

“NEDs can play an invaluable function in law firms as senior advisers, sounding boards, grey hairs and introducers of potential clients,” commented David von Simson, managing partner at Europa Partners, in his Managing Partner article Upward view: Why law firms need non-executive directors.

“Perhaps the most useful advice NEDs can give is to change the firm’s corporate structure away from a partnership to a PLC form, with a view to: radically overhauling compensation structures; building up corporate financial reserves to substitute for fickle bank financing; and making good use of the firm’s most underutilised asset: its goodwill.”

 

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