Men dominate Slaughter and May partner promotions in first year after publication of diversity targets

Just one woman made up in eight-strong cohort although five-year average is just shy of long-term goal
Formal headshots of Megan Sandler and Vincent Chan

Megan Sandler and Vincent Chan Images courtesy of Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May has unveiled a male-dominated partner promotion round a year after publishing an ‘ambitious’ set of diversity targets for the first time.

Just one out of eight new partners (12.5%) this year is female – disputes and investigations expert Megan Sandler – down from two out of five in 2021, which was in line with the firm’s target, published last May, for at least 40% of equity partner promotions globally to be women in the ten years to 2027.

Leading law firms – including Slaughters – have been scrambling to improve their diversity records in recent years through the publication of targets, the launch of new initiatives and also by appointing more women to top positions.

And while this year’s round isn’t even close to Slaughters’ goal, its five-year average of 38% women promoted puts the firm’s performance in a more positive light. The firm can also point to the fact that on 1 May, 45% of its partnership board will be women and two thirds of its executive leadership: newly elected managing partner Deborah Finkler and newly appointed COO Jill Hoseason.

The launch of a flexible working initiative last July and the publication of targets last May alongside the recognition by practice partner David Wittmann that diversity “is vital to the sustained success of the firm” suggests this year’s round will prove to be an anomaly.

The latest promotions are effective 1 May and bring Slaughters’ partner headcount to 110, 93 of whom will be based in London and 17 in the firm’s offices in Brussels, Beijing and Hong Kong. Twenty-five per cent of the partnership are women.

Alongside the gender target is a commitment that 'between May 2020 and April 2025, a minimum of 15% of equity partner promotions in London and Brussels will be from ethnic minority backgrounds'. The firm is currently tracking 6% ahead of that target.

Sandler, a specialist in disputes and investigations practice, joins the partnership in London alongside Charles Osborne in the tax team, Kevin Howes in finance and Chris Sharpe, who has moved up in the pensions, employment and incentives practice.

The London cohort is completed by competition specialist Jonathan Slade, who is set to join the firm’s Brussels office later this year, and corporate and M&A lawyer Richard Hilton. Also moving up in the corporate and M&A practice are Hong Kong-based associates Justin Chan and Vincent Chan.

Steve Cooke, senior partner of Slaughter and May, commented: “We are really pleased to announce the election of these new partners. Each has already established a strong track record of providing excellent advice to our clients and will make an important contribution to the continuing growth of our business.”

The trio moving up in the corporate and M&A team follows last month’s announcement that veteran Slaughters partners Simon Nicholls and Richard Smith had been elected as the next heads of the practice. The duo will begin their new roles on 1 May and succeed head of corporate Andy Ryde and head of M&A Roland Turnill, with it emerging last September that the latter had been elected to succeed Cooke as the firm’s next senior partner in May 2024.  

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