Freehills has created a new leadership role in a bid to entice a former managing partner back to the firm.
Mike Ferraro was the managing partner at Freehills before taking up the position of chief legal counsel at BHP Billiton in 2007. He returns to Freehills as a senior management team partner.
"This is a new role within the firm," Freehills managing partner Gavin Bell told Lawyers Weekly. "Mike was a very effective and well liked managing partner when he was with the firm, and the experience he has gained at one of Australia's leading companies will give us a tremendous insight into issues from a client perspective."
Bell added that while Ferraro's precise role was yet to be determined, he would be actively involved in senior project and strategic matters. It is also understood that he will assist with practice group management matters in the long-term.
Bell remains as the managing partner and chief executive officer, with Mark Rigotti retaining the position of managing partner - clients, that he assumed in January 2008 after Ferraro left the firm.
Bell said there were no plans to change the management structure of the firm and add Ferraro as a managing partner in the future. He also said that Ferraro was not a replacement for Peter Butler, who stood down as one of the firm's managing partners in February.
Former Blake Dawson partner David Wiliamson replaces Ferraro as BHP Billiton chief general counsel. He was the lead advisor on the company's bid for Rio Tinto.