Justin D’Agostino Reappointed as CEO at Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills has officially confirmed the re-appointment of Justin D’Agostino as Chief Executive Officer for a second term, effective from May 1, 2024. The decision, following a partnership vote, ensures that D’Agostino will continue to lead the firm of over 5,000 people for another four years. 

Over his 25-year tenure with Herbert Smith Freehills, D’Agostino has played a pivotal role in the growth of successful businesses, particularly overseeing the firm’s market-leading Disputes practice and contributing to its rapid expansion in Asia. 

In his role as CEO, D’Agostino will maintain oversight of the firm’s client relationships, its people, practices, and growth strategies. 

This announcement comes on the heels of the first global conference for Herbert Smith Freehills partners since the onset of the pandemic. The conference focused on advancing the Ambition 2025 strategy, emphasizing key areas such as private capital clients, the energy transition, and ESG. It also celebrated the accomplishments of the firm’s global contentious and transactional practices. 

Reflecting on his re-appointment, Justin D’Agostino expressed his honour and pride, stating, “Notwithstanding market challenges and uncertainty, our firm continues to act on some of the most exciting mandates in our markets.” He emphasized his privilege in working with outstanding colleagues and leading the firm as they support clients globally and build on their reputation and success. 

Senior Partner Rebecca Maslen-Stannage highlighted Justin’s international mindset, effective communication, and drive to deliver the firm’s goals. The reappointment signifies the strength of the firm, confidence in its strategy, and the strategic momentum achieved. 

Justin D’Agostino, 51, originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, joined Herbert Smith Freehills as a trainee solicitor in 1998 after first being a paralegal in the firm in 1990. Before assuming the CEO role in May 2020, he led the Global Disputes practice and the Asia region for six years. 

Based in Hong Kong, D’Agostino is recognized as a global business leader and is a member of the Executive Board of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. His reputation in international arbitration extends to appearances before tribunals worldwide, serving as an arbitrator, and holding a Visiting Professor position at Tsinghua University in Beijing. 

A staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion, D’Agostino has played a key role in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment within the firm and the wider community. He founded the firm’s first LGBT+ network and sponsored the launch of the Asia Multicultural Network. Under his leadership as Regional Managing Partner, the Asia region achieved its target for women to make up 30% of its partnership. 

D’Agostino’s other professional roles include co-chair of the Host Committee of International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) 2024 in Hong Kong and co-chair of the Global Steering Committee of the Arbitration Pledge, aiming to increase equal-opportunity representation of women arbitrators. 

Suzan Abdien Hago Taha