26 Apr 2022

Ten make the grade at Stephenson Harwood in London-heavy round

Chief executive Eifion Morris signals ongoing commitment to diversity as proportion of women dips from previous years’ even split

Emily Li and Jide Adesokan Images courtesy of Stephenson Harwood

Stephenson Harwood has announced it latest round of partner promotions, with the 10-strong cohort breaking the firm’s track record from the last two years of gender parity.  

The latest round is the second largest ever for the London-based firm but includes only two women, a step down from 2021 and 2020, when half of the eight and six lawyers promoted respectively were women. 

Acknowledging the uneven split of the latest cohort, Eifion Morris, chief executive at Stephenson Harwood, said: "Diversity is really important to us; like most law firms, we recognise that we have work to do in this space. To mark our commitment, earlier this year we set ourselves a clear target: by 2025, we want 35% of our partners globally to be women – and we're making headway. By 1 May, when these promotions take effect, we'll be at 29.2%.”

He added that the firm has achieved an even gender split over the last two years for lateral hires as well as internal promotions and that women now comprise more than half of the firm’s central management team. 

In contrast with last year when the promotions were evenly spread between London and the firm’s bases across the Middle East and Asia, this round leans heavily toward the firm’s hometown. Only two were made up outside of London – Emily Li in the commercial litigation team in Hong Kong and Pedram Norton, who advises banks, funds and ship-owners on syndicated and bilateral financings, leasing transactions and restructurings, in the finance team in Singapore.

There were two more promotions in the finance group in London, with asset finance specialists Jon Cripps and Shaun Park both getting the nod. The corporate team also welcomed two new partners – investment funds specialist Nick Horton and Kate Worthington, who advises on corporate and real estate tax matters. 

The commercial litigation group gained another new partner in the form of Alan Ward, who advises corporates and individuals on regulatory and criminal investigations, while dual England & Wales and Nigeria-qualified Jide Adesokan, whose work is mainly focused on disputes in the energy sector, was made up in the international arbitration group. 

The promotions were rounded out by Nick Axup, who moved up in the restructuring and insolvency team and specialises in sports-related insolvencies, and employment law specialist Richard Freedman, who got the nod in the firm’s employment, pensions and private wealth group. 

Morris described the firm’s latest promotions as reflective of its commitment to strategic growth. 

"As part of our new strategy, we've identified five areas of focus in which to grow our business: decarbonisation, life sciences, private capital and funds, technology and transportation and trade. These talented lawyers bring the skills and depth of commercial expertise that our clients expect and will help us to achieve our ambitious plans,” he said. 

News of the promotions comes a week after the firm announced it had revamped its partner training programme, with the new ‘Accelerate’ programme designed to help junior partners with people management skills and business development know-how so they can progress faster to equity partnership. 

The firm reported last July that it had seen revenue drop by 1.9% to £209m in 2020/21 financial year, while profit per equity partner (PEP) stood at £685,000. The firm did not disclose its PEP in 2020, but the amount from last year was down from its last reported PEP figure of £727,000 for the 2018/19 financial year. 

Stephenson Harwood is the latest UK firm to produce a bumper crop of partner promotions, with Allen & Overy announcing earlier today it had made up 39 to partner. Last week Ashurst said it had promoted a record 25 and earlier this month Eversheds Sutherland reported a 31-strong crop, 65% of which were women, a landmark achievement. 

A full list of the promotions

London

Jide Adesokan – international arbitration

Nick Axup – restructuring and insolvency 

Jon Cripps – finance 

Richard Freedman – employment, pensions and private wealth 

Nick Horton – corporate

Shaun Park – finance

Alan Ward – commercial litigation 

Kate Worthington – corporate

Singapore

Pedram Norton – finance 

Hong Kong 

Emily Li – commercial litigation

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