Standard Chartered’s GC and Latham partner among lawyers recognised in New Year Honours

DE&I champion Sandie Okoro awarded OBE while UK listings reformer Mark Austin becomes a CBE
Headshots of Sandie Okoro (left) and Mark Austin

Sandie Okoro and Mark Austin

Standard Chartered’s general counsel Sandie Okoro and Latham & Watkins partner Mark Austin are among several UK lawyers to have been recognised in the New Year Honours.

Okoro, who took up her post in 2022 after five years as the World Bank’s GC, has received an OBE for services to diversity in international finance, while Austin’s CBE recognises his work helping to reform the UK’s listing regime.

Okoro has long been recognised for her work promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within the legal profession and last month set up a DE&I taskforce with four of Standard Chartered’s legal advisers: Allen & Overy, Eversheds Sutherland, Simmons & Simmons and Sullivan & Cromwell.

“My driving force has always been my deep passion for diversity, equity and inclusion,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. “This is the rocket fuel that runs through everything I do.”

She added that “bringing about change is never easy” and that her late parents would have been “embarrassingly proud” having “set an excellent example… when it comes to giving back and being part of the change you want to see”.

Austin, meanwhile, hit the headlines in September when he joined Latham after 22 years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Alongside his status as a leading practitioner, Austin has earned wider recognition within the City of London as an adviser to Lord Hill’s 2021 UK Listing Review and for his subsequent role as chair of the UK Secondary Capital Raising Review, which reported in July 2022 and recommended a raising of the threshold for which a prospectus should be required for secondary listings.

He is a member and former chair of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) Listing Authority Advisory Panel and sits on its Markets Practitioner Panel. He is also a member of the Capital Markets Industry Taskforce and the London Stock Exchange’s Primary Markets Group.

Writing on LinkedIn, Austin said reforming London’s capital markets was “a team game” and that his honour recognised “the hard work, vision and relentless energy of so many people across the market”.

He added: “2024 is the year to press on and complete what we’ve started and make sure that we end where we deserve to – with public markets that are match fit, across all areas, and that are an obvious choice for UK and international issuers and investors to use and to thrive on when they do.”

Congratulating his colleague, Stephen Kensell, Latham’s London office managing partner, said: “His exceptional achievements, tireless commitment and formidable leadership in the area of UK policy and regulatory law matters have truly set him apart.” 

The most high-ranking recipient of an award from within the legal profession this year is former Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill KC, who receives a knighthood on leaving office, just as Labour Party leader Sir Kier Starmer KC did when he bowed out from the role in 2013.

Hill was replaced by Kingsley Napley partner Stephen Parkinson late last year as England and Wales’s chief prosecutor. 

Tunde Okewale received an OBE for services to criminal justice and social mobility. The Doughty Street barrister is founder of Urban Lawyers, which has guided more than 32,000 students towards legal careers, and is the youngest-ever Governing Bencher at Inner Temple, elected in 2019.

“From the humble beginnings on a Hackney council estate to the hallowed halls of the palace, my journey has been a testament to perseverance and hope,” he said adding that his award was “not just a personal achievement; it’s a beacon for every young mind that dreams big amidst challenges”.

Other lawyers to receive OBEs include Serious Fraud Office prosecutor Louise Van Der Straeten, former parliamentary counsel David Sprackling, and specialist corporate and insolvency barrister Mark Watson-Gandy, of Three Stone Chambers, for his work as of chair of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group.

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