Fenwick Elliott rings in new senior partner after 23 years

Karen Gidwani to succeed veteran leader Simon Tolson at helm of UK construction and energy boutique next April

Karen Gidwani Image courtesy of Fenwick Elliott

UK construction and energy firm Fenwick Elliott has named a successor to longstanding senior partner Simon Tolson.  

Karen Gidwani will take over leadership of the London-based firm on 1 April 2025. She is only the firm’s third senior partner since it was founded in 1980 by Robert Fenwick Elliott, who served in the role for more than 20 years before Tolson took over in 2002.  

During his time at the helm Tolson has overseen Fenwick’s partnership grow from 10 to 25, while overall lawyer headcount has more than doubled to 97. The firm has also expanded internationally, becoming active in nearly 50 jurisdictions and opening an office in Dubai in 2015. Meantime revenue has increased from around £2.5m when Tolson took over to £22.5m. 

Tolson has been with the firm since 1987 as a newly qualified solicitor and was made an equity partner in 1989. One of the UK’s top-ranking construction disputes lawyers, he regularly represents clients in court proceedings relating to terminated contracts and defect claims. He has run more than 20 major reported cases in the High Court (TCC) and Court of Appeal and been involved in legal actions relating to major building and engineering projects including Heathrow Terminal 5 and Wembley Stadium.  

A chartered arbitrator and registered adjudicator, Tolson has also conducted cases before international arbitration tribunals and acted in more than 120 adjudications over the past 15 years.  

“I’m proud of what Fenwick Elliott has achieved during my time as senior partner,” Tolson said. “When I joined the firm in 1987, I didn’t plan on staying 37 years, but being part of this firm’s journey continues to energise me to this day. There have been defining periods, like when we branched into major engineering procurement construction dispute work, a move that supported our expansion into key international markets and international arbitration.”

He added that the firm’s growth had been underpinned by its specialist expertise and the diversification of its work in contract negotiation, non-contentious cases, litigation, arbitration, adjudication and mediation.  

“I have worked with Karen for many years and have complete confidence that she will do an exceptional job as senior partner, leading the firm into its next chapter,” Tolson said.  

Gidwani is herself a veteran of Fenwick Elliott, where she has been a partner since 2006. She regularly advises and represents international and domestic large-scale main contractors and private equity investors in in litigation, international arbitration, mediation and adjudication, and is noted by The Legal 500 for her work in the offshore wind sector.  

“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to take this role in the firm,” Gidwani said. “Fenwick Elliott enjoys an unrivalled reputation for its specialist knowledge of construction and energy law, and I am looking forward to leading our talented team of lawyers and staff, and working with our clients, to ensure continued growth and the development of that talent.

“Simon has been an exemplary leader and will always be a respected and admired member of the firm. I’m delighted that he will continue as a partner and know that everyone associated with the firm will benefit from his experience and expertise.” 

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