Herbert Smith Freehills elevates 14 women in record 34-strong promotions round

UK and Australia account for majority of new partners as gender balance puts firm on course to meet latest target
Headshot of Justin D’Agostino

Justin D’Agostino

Top 10 UK law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has accepted 34 lawyers into its partnership in what amounts to its largest promotion round on record. 

This year’s bumper crop marks a significant increase on the firm’s previous record tally, which came in 2020 when the firm elevated 26 lawyers

While the latest batch of partners skews male, with 14 of the 34 partner slots (41%) going to women, it reflects an improvement on last year when 30% of the 30 promoted lawyers were women. HSF set a gender diversity target in 2019 for a 35% female partnership by 2023.

This year’s batch of partners cover all of HSF’s regions across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the UK and the US. Most of the promotions were made in the UK, where 13 lawyers got the nod – 12 in London and one in its low cost centre in Belfast, Lyn Harris, who heads the New York alternative legal services team and its disputes arm globally.

Australia followed with ten partners, while HSF’s Asia and EMEA networks each gained five across its offices in Tokyo (one), Jakarta (one), Singapore (two), Hong Kong (one), Johannesburg (two), Dubai (two) and Paris (one). 

Half of the Australian contingent are based in Melbourne, while the rest were promoted in Perth (three), Brisbane (one) and Sydney (one). HSF hired financial services partners Maged Girgis and Andrew Bradley in Sydney from MinterEllison last month, a move that added a collective 50 years of experience to its Australian financial services team.

Just one lawyer – corporate crime and investigations specialist Jonathan Cross – moved up in the US. He joins the firm’s partnership in New York, where it received a significant boost in November when it hired Marc Gottridge, Hogan Lovells’ global head of financial services litigation, and financial services and administrative partner Lisa Fried to bolster its global financial services offering. 

Justin D’Agostino, HSF’s chief executive officer, said: “This is a diverse, outstanding group of bright, talented lawyers and future leaders of our firm. In a world that's changing very rapidly – and with many challenges on the horizon – these new partners have demonstrated the skills and leadership qualities that we need to cement our position as a leading international law firm.”

HSF is the latest of several UK firms to announce bumper promotions rounds, including Allen & Overy, which earlier this week unveiled a 39-strong partner class and Ashurst, which last week promoted a record 25 partners.

Meanwhile, the gender balance of HSF’s latest round places it in the company of City rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, whose cohorts each also comprised 41% women. That meant Freshfields met its diversity target for a second year running for at least 40% of all new partners to be female. 

HSF was one of the first law firms to announce diversity targets in 2014, achieving a 53% increase in the proportion of women partners in the period to 2019 at which point just over a quarter of its partners were women (26%).

The firm's turnover broke through the £1bn barrier last year, when it recorded a 5% increase in fee income to £1.04bn against a 28% increase in profit per equity partner. 

The full list of new partners

James Allsop, Tokyo – International Arbitration/Corporate Crime and Investigations  
Cellia Cognard, Jakarta – Corporate/M&A*  
Harry Evans, Singapore – Corporate (TMT/Life Sciences) 
Jin Kong, Hong Kong – Corporate (Capital Markets)*  
Dan Waldek, Singapore – International Arbitration/Construction and Infrastructure Disputes 
Stephanie, Jakarta – Corporate/M&A (on secondment with Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung)  

Patrick Clark, Melbourne – Competition  
Rachel Dawson, Perth – Employment/Industrial Relations  
Wendy Fauvel, Brisbane – Employment/Industrial Relations  
Mark Hatfull, Perth – Corporate (Energy and Resources)  
Nerida Jessup, Sydney – Work, Health and Safety  
Jason Jordan, Melbourne – Corporate/M&A  
Olga Klimczak, Perth – Employment/Industrial Relations  
Alex Mackinnon, Melbourne – Corporate (Equity Capital Markets)  
Niresha Mudalige, Melbourne – Real Estate  
Aoife Xuereb, Melbourne – Commercial Litigation/Class Actions  

Cameron Dunstan-Smith, Johannesburg – Corporate Crime and Investigations  
Phil Hanson, Dubai – Projects and Project Finance  
Jonathan Ripley-Evans, Johannesburg – International Arbitration  
Laurence Vincent, Paris – Corporate/M&A  
Chris Walters, Dubai – Corporate/M&A
Dhananjaya (DJ) Chak, London – Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance   
Kathryn Coveney, London – Real Estate  
Joseph Dennis, London – Private Equity  
Heidi Gallagher, London – Corporate/M&A  
Lyn Harris, Belfast – Alternative Legal Services (Disputes)  
Josh Lom, London – Corporate (Tax)  
Ajay Malhotra, London – Banking Litigation 
Antonia Pegden, London – Disputes (Insurance, Professional Negligence and Pensions) 
Rebecca Perlman, London – Corporate (ESG and Impact Investment) 
Siddhartha Shukla, London – Corporate (Cross-border M&A/Tech)   
Sebastian Taylor, London – Real Estate  
Andrew Wells, London – Disputes (Intellectual Property) 
Nick Wright, London – Employment
Jonathan Cross, New York – Corporate Crime and Investigations  

Due to local regulatory requirements in Indonesia Celia Cognard's title will be Senior International Counsel, while in Hong Kong Jin Kong's title will be Senior Registered Foreign Lawyer.

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