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Herbert Smith Freehills confirmed today the appointment of Justin D'Agostino as its next Chief Executive Officer. The appointment by the firm's Council, approved by partnership vote, will take effect from 1 May 2020 for a term of four years. He will succeed Mark Rigotti, who has served two terms as CEO.

Justin has been a successful leader within the firm, both in leading the global Disputes practice and as Managing Partner of Asia. His enthusiasm, integrity and passion for the firm, its people and its achievements are self-evident to those who know him, and he is well placed to lead the firm in the next phase of its strategy. He has widespread support from partners across all regions and practices.

Justin will retain his home base in Asia during his tenure, spending significant time in each of the firm's regions.

Chair and Senior Partner James Palmer commented:

I am delighted to be announcing the appointment of such a popular and strong leader as our next CEO, to take the firm forward and build on the progress of the past few years. Justin combines great ambition for the firm with an ability to inspire, as well as successful leadership experience across our regions and markets. He has always been both client focused and a culture-and-people person, building successful outcomes for clients and for our teams. It is good news for our firm that he has agreed to take on this key leadership role, and I and our partners and other colleagues look forward to working with him.

James added:

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mark Rigotti for all he has achieved during his two terms as CEO.  The firm is in a much stronger position as a result of his leadership. We have professionalised, expanded our global network and practices, and been widely recognised for both individual and team excellence and an enhanced market position. It is a privilege to work with someone so focused on the success of our firm and its people.

Mark and Justin will work together closely as Justin transitions into the role.

Justin commented:

I am delighted to have been appointed CEO of this great law firm. Herbert Smith Freehills has nurtured me throughout my 21 years at the firm and it is an honour and privilege to lead the business.

There are many opportunities and challenges facing us as we move into a new decade. I have no doubt, however, that our people will continue to innovate and flourish. I relish the chance to work with them, and with our clients, to take our firm forward to even greater success.



A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Justin D'Agostino, 47,  graduated with a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Aberdeen in 1996. He joined Herbert Smith Freehills in 1998 and became a partner in 2007.

Justin currently leads the firm's Disputes practice and Asia and US regions, overseeing people, practices, clients and growth strategies. A thought leader and skilled practitioner in arbitration and dispute resolution, Justin has appeared before tribunals around the world and regularly sits as an arbitrator.

He also works closely with many of the firm's largest clients, both in his personal practice role and as a regional and global business leader.

The founder of the firm's first LGBT+ network in 2007, Justin is a strong advocate and active supporter of diversity and inclusion in the firm and the wider community.

He is currently a member of the firm's Global Executive, chair of the Asia and Disputes Executives, and Executive Sponsor of IRIS, the firm's global LGBT+ network.

Justin's recent legal experience includes:

  • representing the Government of Korea on the first investment treaty arbitration under the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (Jin Hae Seo v. Republic of Korea)
  • advising the Government of Malaysia on a US$1.2 billion arbitration against the Republic of Singapore concerning the interpretation of a bilateral treaty
  • advising Grand Pacific Holdings Limited on its high-profile and successful appeal against a decision by the Hong Kong Court of First Instance to set aside an ICC arbitral award in its favour

His professional, business and community roles include:

Key contacts

Justin D'Agostino photo

Justin D'Agostino

Chief Executive Officer and Partner, Hong Kong

Justin D'Agostino
James Palmer photo

James Palmer

Partner, London

James Palmer

Media contact

For further information on this article please contact

Sally Greig

Sally Greig, Head of Communications, Asia

Hong Kong