22 Feb 2022

Lewis Silkin appoints first woman to chair partnership

Corporate partner and D&I leader Jo Evans set to take over from Michael Burd in April

Jo Evans

UK top 100 law firm Lewis Silkin has appointed corporate partner and diversity and inclusion (D&I) board leader Jo Evans as the next chair of its partnership, making her the first woman to hold the role. 

Evans will take over on 1 April from Michael Burd following the completion of his second term. Burd, who has spent nearly 40 years at the firm and has served as chair of the partnership since 2016, will return to his employment practice upon stepping down. 

London-based Evans joined Lewis Silkin as a trainee in 1993, was promoted to partner in 2000 and has previously served as the firm's head of corporate. She focuses her practice on complex transactions including business exits, M&A, capital raising and joint ventures across a number of areas in the creative economy, including marketing, media, communications, data and digital enterprises. 

As chair of the D&I board, Evans oversees Lewis Silkin’s D&I efforts across a number of strands, including gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability and interfaith. The firm said it signed on to several D&I initiatives under Evans’ stewardship, like the Law Society’s D&I Charter and the Women in Law Pledge, as well as becoming a legal partner to the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. 

“There are some exciting challenges ahead and it is an honour to help lead a firm that is committed to thinking in a 21st century way,” Evans said. 

She added: ‘Improving diversity and inclusion across the legal profession is critically important and there is a need for everyone to shift the dial if we want to make real progress. I am looking forward to using this leadership position to challenge ourselves and the wider profession to do better.”

Lewis Silkin has enjoyed significant growth under Burd’s leadership —  it has added two new bases in Dublin and Belfast, bringing its office tally to six, and grown its partner headcount from 59 to 74. 

The Belfast office was opened just a few weeks ago when the firm announced it had joined forces with local boutique Forde Campbell in a bid to beef up its technology, intellectual property and media capabilities in Northern Ireland. 

Lewis Silkin’s other offices are located in London, Cardiff, Oxford and Hong Kong. Earlier this month, the firm confirmed it would be relocating its London offices from Chancery Lane to occupy two floors of the 19-storey Arbor building, which is part of the new sustainability-focused Bankside Yards development in Southwark.

A number of other prominent UK firms have named women leaders over the past 18 months, including Clifford Chance, which as part of a move toward a more contemporary management structure elected litigation partner Deborah Finkler as its first-ever managing partner last September.

Last May Linklaters also announced that the global head of its corporate practice, Aedamar Comiskey, was to become the first female senior partner in its almost 200-year history.

And in September 2020 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer appointed Asia managing partner Georgia Dawson as its next senior partner, making her the first woman to lead a magic circle firm.

 

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