08 January 2018

Macfarlanes avoids election for senior partner

The firm has opted for a collaborative approach to appointing the next leader as its veteran senior partner Charles Martin prepares to hand over the mantle to the next generation.

London law firm Macfarlanes has chosen a new senior partner to replace the highly respected current incumbent Charles Martin when he retires in 2020 after 12 years at the top. One of Europe's top independent law firms, the firm did not have an election but rather consulted with the partners with Sebastian Prichard Jones emerging as the heir apparent. Mr Prichard Jones is head of private client at the firm and will work with Mr Martin for the next two years in an extended handover. The firm will also soon replace its managing partner Julian Howard whose term finishes in April 2020 and the appointment for the next managing partner will mirror that of the senior partner, avoiding a divisive election.

Contested elections

Management guru Patrick McKenna is a supporter of avoiding high profile election contests. He says that 'A high profile contested election can also become quite distracting to everyone as it is politicised through continuous hallway speculation and various camps develop.  As the competition intensifies, it is not uncommon for partners to take sides for or against particular candidates.  This can result in overt behavior that deters teamwork and knowledge sharing.  It is not at all unusual for some of these partners to also leave with the losing candidates, following the contested election. This all makes for a very emotional and expensive leadership succession process. When are we going to learn?'


Macfarlanes has enjoyed a successful few years, with revenues at £167.6m last year and £1.376m profit per equity partner. The firm has not invested in international offices but maintains good relationships with a range of law firms globally.