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University of Law boss stands down in post-sale top-tier shake-up

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Exclusive: Chief executive goes and top finance man is also thought to be heading for door

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Whizz-kid Russian legal education boss Aaron Etingen has launched his first major shake-up since buying the University of Law, as the institution’s two top staff head out the door.

Legal Cheek has learnt that John Latham — who became the university’s president and chief executive less than two years ago — is waving good-bye along with chief financial officer Tim Boucher.

The top-deck clear out is the latest in a series of ructions at the university since 36-year-old Russian-Israeli private education entrepreneur bought ULaw two months ago for an undisclosed sum.

Since then, the London office of global law firm Baker & McKenzie announced that it was shifting its deal for the Legal Practice Course provision for its trainees to ULaw’s arch rival BPP Law School.

The Baker McK move compounded pain already being felt as it followed similar commercial desertions by Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance. Still, magic circle firm Linklaters remains with ULaw, alongside a host of other big names, including Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Pinsent Masons. Indeed, in a June show of strength ULaw snaffled Trowers & Hamlins from Kaplan in a three year deal to educate the firm’s GDL and LPC students.

It is less than two years since Latham took over as chief executive from his renowned predecessor, Nigel Savage. He joined from Laureate Education — a Baltimore-based private company — where he was vice-president for international business development.

Before that, Latham spent 13 years with Russell Group universities, including Manchester and Liverpool universities, becoming the latter’s first chief operating officer.

Nonetheless, Latham’s appointment as head of Europe’s biggest law school was controversial, as he had no legal education background.

A ULaw spokeswoman told Legal Cheek that Latham “will be leaving the university by mutual consent”.

The university said that current chief operating officer David Johnston will replace Latham in the top slot, with the current provost, Andrea Nollent, becoming chief academic officer.

The spokeswoman also said that Latham would “continue to provide consultancy to the university’s chairman and advise on the new owners — Etingen’s Netherlands-based Global University Systems — on a “strategic options review”, adding:

He will continue to advise our board on regulatory matters.

ULaw declined to confirm or deny the position regarding Tim Boucher.