Herbert Smith Freehills has chosen intellectual property lawyer Kristin Stammer to succeed Andrew Pike as the leader of the global firm in Australia and Asia.
Ms Stammer’s elevation was ratified by the firm’s global council and the announcement made to staff just before midday on Tuesday. She will serve a three-year term starting on May 1 – the first day of the UK financial year.
The move represents a watershed at Australia’s leading legal firms. Only two of the “big six” – Allens, MinterEllison, HSF, King & Wood Mallesons, Ashurst and Clayton Utz – currently have local women leaders: MinterEllison (Virginia Briggs) and KWM (Renae Lattey).
Women will be in the majority from mid-next year. Like HSF, Clayton Utz will have a new leader, with Emma Covacevich chosen last Friday to succeed Bruce Cooper as chief executive partner from July 1.
From left to right: Emma Covacevich (Clayton Utz), Kristin Stammer (Herbert Smith Freehills), Virginia Briggs (MinterEllison), Renae Lattey (King & Wood Mallesons)
Ms Stammer has been with HSF for more than 25 years, having joined the firm as a graduate lawyer in 1996. She became a partner in 2001, a remarkably short period for a leading firm.
She is based in Sydney and co-leads the firm’s global consumer sector, with her firm profile saying she has “specialised in IP, content and technology transactions and IP structures for 20 years”.
Ms Stammer said she was “honoured to be chosen to lead the firm in Australia and Asia at such an important time for our region”. She is only the second woman to do so, after Sue Gilchrist shared the regional managing partner role with current CEO Justin D’Agostino from 2015 to 2017.
New boss: Kristin Stammer says she is “honoured” to have been chosen to lead Herbert Smith Freehills in Australia and Asia.
“I’m immensely proud of our firm, passionate about our people and clients, and committed to us leading in everything we do …
“From May, I will be building on Andrew’s impressive legacy, and I sincerely thank him for the leadership he has shown.”
HSF announced last month that Mr Pike, who has been executive partner for Australia since 2017 and for the Asia-Pacific since 2020, would step down next year to spend more time with his young family. He will remain part of the executive team, but move to a part-time role.
Ms Stammer was selected by Mr D’Agostino, who conducted interviews after expressions of interest were sought from partners. The global council endorsed his choice.
Mr D’Agostino said her appointment was “strongly received across the firm”.
“She has the global and client-focused mindset and the collaborative and inclusive leadership skills required for one of the world’s leading international law firms,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank Andrew for his immense contribution to the firm, and particularly leading the region through the pandemic and the launch of our global strategy.”
Mr Pike said he was “delighted to be handing the reins over to Kristin”.
“I know that the Asia-Pacific region will thrive in her highly capable hands. She is a wonderful colleague – I congratulate Kristin and wish her all the best in her new role.”
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