Law Society’s ‘enormously influential’ international champion Stephen Denyer has died, aged 68

Tributes paid to former Allen & Overy partner who spearheaded society’s international relations

Stephen Denyer, director of strategic relationships at the Law Society of England and Wales and a former partner at Allen & Overy (A&O), has died aged 68.

In a series of generous tributes, senior figures from across the profession have spoken of his influence, especially thanks to his promotion of UK law on the international stage during his time at the Law Society and while at A&O. He died last weekend, according to a Law Society statement. 

A&O senior partner Wim Dejonghe said: “We were greatly saddened to hear the news of Stephen’s passing. Stephen played an enormously influential role at A&O during his career here and remained in close contact with many people across the firm after he left. He will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with his family.”

Denyer’s remit at the Law Society included international relations and he was a mainstay of its work with City law firms, having joined the society in 2014 after 36 years at A&O, where he helped establish 11 of the firm’s international offices, alongside roles as global markets partner and international development partner.

Law Society CEO Ian Jeffrey told the Law Society Gazette, which announced Denyer’s death yesterday (18 January): “Stephen made a wide-ranging and enduring contribution to the legal profession both here and abroad over the entire length of a distinguished legal career. 

“Stephen was a much-loved colleague and mentor, sharing expertise with and creating opportunities for many colleagues across many organisations, including our own. His wisdom and his open and generous spirit will be missed by everyone across the organisation, our membership and the legal community in the UK and internationally.”

Former Law Society president I.Stephanie Boyce told GLP: “Stephen was a staple of the Law Society for so long and will be greatly missed by all those who had the opportunity to know him and work with him.”

Denyer was a member of the International Bar Association’s (IBA’s) management board, a former chair of its Section on Practice and Professional Interests and advised its Law Management Committee, which held a conference in December at Chancery Lane. He also played a pivotal role helping to establish London International Disputes Week (LIDW), according to its organisers. 

LIDW co-chair Richard Bamforth, head of arbitration at CMS, told GLP: “All associated with London International Disputes Week will be sorry to hear of Stephen Denyer’s passing. From the outset, he was a huge supporter of LIDW and attended many of our events, where he was always a welcome presence.

“LIDW has become the internationally recognised event it is today, thanks to his support for London as a centre for international disputes and the use of English law in commercial transactions, the latter of which played a huge role in his international career. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Simmons & Simmons litigation partner Ed Crosse added: “His ability to connect people with the Law Society, drive change and be a (continuing) visible face for the profession was extraordinary. I can’t think of a meeting I attended with the Law Society where Stephen wasn’t also present, shaping the discussions and following up on actions. But my strongest memory of Stephen was what an incredibly kind and generous man he was.”

Melissa Davis, who worked with Denyer at the Law Society, as a volunteer at the IBA, and in connection with her business, MD Communications, said: “Stephen was my friend and mentor. I had known him for 18 years, and he always made time for me despite being one of the busiest people on the planet.” 

She said her last conversation with him had been at the IBA’s annual conference in Paris last October. “I told him that I would always be so grateful for the mentoring and friendship he had offered me,” she said. “I was devastated when I heard the news.”

Denyer is survived by his wife Monika and his children Martin, Helen, Tim and Frank.

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