19 Apr 2022

Stephenson Harwood announces refreshed partner development programme

Training will equip junior partners with soft skills needed to progress faster to equity partnership

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Stephenson Harwood has revamped its partner training programme to help develop its next generation of leaders.

The new ‘Accelerate’ programme is designed to help junior partners with people management skills and business development know-how so they can progress faster to equity partnership. Junior partners will learn how to grow their client portfolio, build stronger and deeper client relationships and how to better promote the firm and win work.

Eifion Morris, Stephenson Harwood’s chief executive officer, said: “The partner role is very different to being an associate, which is why we are equipping our junior partners with the right skill sets, so they are able to play a more integral role in the development and management of our firm.”

The firm said the programme deliberately focuses on softer skills and it has partnered with Oxford Saïd Business School to provide virtual learning support.

Jo Stancliffe, head of learning and development at Stephenson Harwood, said: “It’s about taking a more strategic approach to seeing each partner’s business, and really challenging them to think about how they can develop their individual practice, their team and the wider firm.”

The programme is already up and running, with the first cohort already signed up.

Stephen Richards, a partner and participant in the Accelerate programme, said: “Lawyers have a tendency to do what has always been done, sticking to trusted and familiar approaches. This course turns that thinking on its head, and encourages a more open-minded and forward-looking approach, effectively demonstrating how to develop a strategic business mind.”

Earlier this month, Slaughter & May unveiled a package of measures to boost associate pay and benefits, including a more supportive structure that will make it easier to have conversations around career progression. Slaughters promoted eight associates to partnership this year – though just one was female.

Many firms have been looking to boost their female partner intake to improve gender equality in leadership positions. Magic Circle peers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters both hit their gender diversity targets this year where at least 40% of new partners must be women – each achieving 41%. Eversheds Sutherland has had one of the best partner promotion rounds this year, with women making up 65% of new partners.

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