Gowling WLG names asset management head next UK chair

Emma Pioli to succeed incumbent Andy Stylianou in May

Emma Pioli Image courtesy of Gowling WLG

Anglo-Canadian law firm Gowling WLG has named real estate partner and asset management head, Emma Pioli, as the next chair of its UK LLP. 

Pioli will take over in May from Andy Stylianou at the end of his four-year term. Stylianou became chair in 2020 after his predecessor, Andrew Witts, decided to return to his practice full time after eight years at the helm and multiple mergers. 

For her part Pioli began her legal career in 1991 as a trainee at legacy Birmingham firm Wragge & Co, which merged with London firm Lawrence & Co in 2014 and two years later joined forces with Canadian outfit Gowlings to create Gowling WLG. She has been a partner in the firm’s real estate practice for more than 20 years and will continue to lead the asset management team while serving as chair.  

Her clients include La Salle Investment Management, M&G Real Estate and Savills Investment Management, which she has advised in connection with the Diageo Pension Fund on numerous lease transactions. She also represents the Government Property Agency in relation to the management of Central Government real estate and UK Power Networks on the property side of its distribution network.  

David Fennell, chief executive of Gowling’s UK LLP, said Pioli was an exceptional team leader and partner.  

“Those who have worked with Emma will know how much energy and experience she brings to what she does. I’m looking forward to working with her to deliver our strategy for growth and to provide the best possible experience for our clients,” he said.  

“I’d also like to thank Andy for everything he has achieved during his time as chair. He’s been the consummate team player, a fantastic ambassador for the firm and a huge support for me personally and for all of our people.”

Gowling said that Stylianou had played a key role in accelerating the firm’s growth in Europe and the Middle East during his time as chair, including launches in Abu Dhabi and Leeds in 2022. Last year the firm also hired a quartet of capital markets, M&A and private equity partners from Taylor Wessing to open its third office in Germany, in Frankfurt. The firm now has 10 offices across the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and the UAE. 

Gowling also credited Stylianou as being a “driving force” in its diversity, equality and inclusion strategy, Inclusion for All, and its achieving Mansfield Certification, which means that at least 30% of candidates for leadership roles at the firm are women, people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ+, or people with disabilities.

“It’s been a privilege to be chair and I’m thrilled for Emma to be appointed my successor,” Stylianou said. “The global economy has faced some major challenges during this time, not least those linked to the pandemic and war in Ukraine, but we have continued to go from strength-to-strength. I’m confident there will be plenty more success to come and will be giving Emma my full support.”  

Stylianou will remain a partner and member of Gowling’s central leadership team upon stepping down from the chair role. 

Commenting on her appointment, Pioli said: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role of chair alongside my role in asset management. I’m excited to have the opportunity to be more involved in supporting our people and clients and I’m looking forward to putting my energy into this new challenge and strengthening relationships and collaboration across our global firm.” 

Pioli’s appointment sees Gowling become the latest UK law firm to appoint a woman senior leader. Last year Lewis Silkin named IP specialist Jo Farmer as co-managing partner alongside Richard Miskella, shortly after pensions partner Sasha Butterworth began her term as senior partner of top 50 UK firm TLT.

Earlier this week, Norton Rose Fulbright announced that Farmida Bi has been elected to serve a third term as chair for Europe, Middle East and Asia. Bi, a partner in the banking and finance team and head of Islamic finance, Europe, will start her third term on 1 May. It runs for three years.

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com