01 May 2020

Macfarlanes hires former Lord Chancellor and no-deal Brexit campaigner David Gauke

David Gauke leaving a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street

David Gauke leaving a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in February last year when he was Lord Chancellor

High-profile Conservative Party Brexit rebel signs up with former firm as head of policy

Leading independent UK law firm Macfarlanes has hired former Lord Chancellor David Gauke in the new role of head of public policy.

The appointment sees Gauke, who was a prominent campaigner against a no-deal Brexit, return to the firm where he worked as a solicitor, specialising in financial services, between 1999 and 2005, before leaving to enter politics. 

Macfarlanes senior partner Sebastian Prichard Jones said: “In recent times we have seen increasing demand from clients for our assistance on topics such as our future trading relationship with the EU and the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“David understands policy and the political landscape; combined with existing expertise within the firm, [he] will enable us to support our clients further as we navigate these uncertain times.”

Gauke added: “I am really pleased to be returning to Macfarlanes in this new role, which will allow me to combine my policy experience and legal background for the purposes of providing insight and advice to clients to support their business objectives.”

His appointment comes in the same week that New York’s Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz appointed Leo Strine, former Delaware chief justice and a leading proponent of governance reform, in a similar advisory role.

Gauke served as a member of parliament for the Conservative Party from May 2005 to November 2019.

He held a number of ministerial posts, most notably as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, where he was well regarded by tax professionals, before subsequently becoming the first solicitor to hold the office of Lord Chancellor, heading up the Ministry of Justice.

Gauke was widely respected by City solicitors for his public opposition to a no-deal Brexit, his commitment to the rule of law and his efforts to build strong relationships with the legal profession and the judiciary.

In a speech delivered in July 2019 shortly before his resignation as Lord Chancellor, he delivered a robust defence of the judiciary, some senior judges having famously been described as ‘enemies of the people’ by The Daily Mail newspaper for ruling that Parliament should have a say in the Brexit process.

“In deploying this sort of language, we go to war with truth; we pour poison into our national conversation,” he said.

He resigned rather than serve in the administration of current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and and subsequently stood unsuccessfully as an independent candidate at the December 2019 general election before leaving front-line politics. 

Gauke’s appointment coincides with the stepping down of veteran senior partner Charles Martin, who has returned to practice as a corporate and M&A lawyer after 12 years of service in the role.

Martin is widely respected by City peers and independent law firm leaders as having led the firm successfully through the global financial crisis and beyond.

The firm also today welcomed two new partners in its 2020 promotions round, both women; financial services regulation specialist Alexandra Green and tax lawyer Alicia Thomas, who specialises in investment management issues.

It is a much-reduced partnership round from 2019, when nine new partners were appointed.

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