Keystone Law finishes summer of growth with trio of partner hires

Virtual law firm caps further expansion having made more than 25 new hires since May

Keystone's new hire Sandra Bates brings with her mining sector experience Shutterstock

Keystone Law has recruited three new partners in the UK, as the firm continues to grow its ranks during the ongoing pandemic. 

Sandra Bates, Alex Heaton and Yohanna Weber have all moved to Keystone as partners from Fladgate, Reed Smith and Fieldfisher respectively, each joining Keystone’s London office in late August.

Bates, a corporate lawyer, is the most notable appointment. She brings with her expertise across three key practice areas—mining, oil and gas, and technology. Her specialisation in cross-border corporate transactions, especially in regions beyond Keystone’s current footprint, namely in Africa, Canada and the US, reflects the firm’s plans for future expansion.

Prior to her two years as a partner at Fladgate, Bates was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Canadian firm Stikeman Elliott, while her in-house experience includes time as senior counsel at Citigroup.

She will combine her time at Keystone with work as general counsel at Altus Strategies, and non-executive appointments at two mining companies, Pensana Rare Earths and Adriatic Metals. 

Keystone boosts property and planning teams

Meanwhile, Heaton’s appointment bolsters Keystone’s commercial property practice, which saw Sheena Ray and Sally Pilott arrive this summer, while Alan Spiers and Sam Benfield joined in February. 

Heaton brings more than two decades of real estate experience to Keystone, leaving his position at Reed Smith after 22 years. The firm announced a series of job cuts recently, shedding 19 staff. 

His work includes advising high-profile landlords on property portfolios, lease negotiations and managing tenant logistics, acting on deals concerning some of London’s most high-profile buildings, including 20 Fenchurch Street—known as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’—at a time when landlords face intense commercial pressures following the pandemic.  

Finally, planning and environmental law specialist Weber has extensive experience in the planning law aspects of infrastructure, conventional and renewable energy development and urban regenerations, as well as development consent orders, major planning applications and compulsory purchase orders.

She leaves Fieldfisher after more than three-and-a-half years, having previously spent time at Eversheds Sutherland. She is the co-chair of Planning Out, which provides social and professional networking opportunities for LGBT+ professionals within the planning sector.

Keystone CEO James Knight described the new appointments as “excellent examples of high-calibre lawyers who are attracted to Keystone for the levels of freedom and autonomy we can provide. They are experts in their fields and their experience will strengthen our offering to clients.”

In August, Keystone hired 15 new partners from several major law firms, and announced the opening of a new Abu Dhabi office. The firm’s ongoing growth amid the Covid-19 pandemic is just one example of the growing popularity of virtual law firms and remote working patterns; July saw US firm Husch Blackwell open its virtual office ‘The Link’.

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