Rigotti will take on the role of managing partner (clients and industries) when the full-equity merger takes effect on 1 October.
“I feel part of my role is to be a culture carrier, so to take a little bit of the Freehills way of doing things and bring it across to Herbert Smith,” said Rigotti.
“Part of it is also to learn about their perspective on things and how they do things differently because the merger is really about finding the best of both worlds.”
The message that “we ran it together from day one” is one we’ll be hearing a lot from the merged firm, said Rigotti.
His responsibility will be to ensure the client and industry strategies of Herbert Smith Freehills line up and support the firm’s vision to be globally elite and a leading firm in Asia.
Acting for really good clients, strongly pursuing Asian opportunities, and ensuring a best-practice client management system will all be in his mandate.
“It’s a big business, it needs almost $6 million a day in revenue, so you don’t get that unless you’re managing clients and not just standing in the market waiting for the phone to ring,” he said.
Rigotti became Freehills managing partner in January 2008, 20 years after he first joined the firm.
When he transitions to the British capital he will have to come to terms with an entrenched global orientation.
“Over here it’s all about the Big Four [banks] and the rest,” said Rigotti.
Last week on a call to England he said “the English guy was going through the banks that he’s currently doing work for and he was up to about 30; they’re banks you’ve never heard of. It’s just that global orientation that is very, very different”.
Herbert Smith’s London solicitor floor is diverse (half the staff are Eastern European) and their 164 partners are working all over the world, said Rigotti.
"About 70 per cent of the corporate work is not in England. They might sit in London but be off to Kazakhstan, or some other ‘stan’, or Africa doing different things, so it’s got a very international flavour to it,” said Rigotti, adding that he is mindful of the need to respect Freehills’ past, but also to respect Herbert Smith’s past.
There will be different ways of doing things, he admitted, “but not better or worse”.
Look out for next week’s magazine copy of Lawyers Weekly for a full Legal Leaders profile of Mark Rigotti.