Simmons & Simmons lands London real estate partner duo from Stephenson Harwood

Former Stephenson Harwood real estate head Jonathon Wilkes is joined by Ashley Davidson

Simmons & Simmons has made a twin partner hire from Stephenson Harwood to bolster its London real estate team.

Jonathon Wilkes and Ashley Davidson have been working together for more than 15 years, serving property investors such as LondonMetric, Longmead Capital, Tristan Capital Partners and Realty Income. Wilkes was head of real estate at Stephenson Harwood, with Davidson becoming a partner in 2020, according to his LinkedIn page.

John Kelsey, who leads Simmons’ 10-partner strong London real estate team, said: “The addition of two new partners is a significant move for us and reflects our ambitious strategy for the Simmons’ real estate business. Jonathon and Ashley’s client base and skillset are complementary to ours whilst we provide them with an enhanced platform both in the UK and internationally.”

Wilkes spent almost 12 years at Stephenson Harwood, having previously been a partner at Wragge & Co and an associate at Nabarro before that. Davidson also moved to Stephenson Harwood from Wragge shortly after Wilkes’ arrival. 

Wilkes said: “[Simmons’] real estate offering is second to none, underpinned by strong, collaborative teams across the funds, tax, corporate, litigation and banking practices. Their pan-European network is also extremely impressive and provides us with an excellent opportunity to better support our clients.”

Stephenson Harwood, meanwhile, has appointed Simon Brading to take over from Wilkes as London head of real estate. A partner since 2014, Brading’s practice focuses on large development, investment and forward funding transactions with Schroders UK Real Estate Fund and The Prudential Assurance Company among his clients.

Rebecca Carter, who heads the firm’s real estate and projects practice group, said: “Our real estate experts, including in corporate real estate, real estate finance and property litigation, attract a wide range of clients, but particularly those investing private capital or through funds – a core part of the firm's new strategy. This is a focus area for future growth.”

In February, Simmons hired UK rival Osborne Clarke’s former Silicon Valley managing partner to launch its first US office, in the Bay Area. 

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]