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Leadership shake-up sees Stevens & Bolton unveil new managing partner

Richard King has been succeeded by corporate partner James Waddell as Stevens & Bolton’s managing partner as part of a leadership revamp.

King is stepping down after a successful five years in the role. In 2021, the Guildford-headquartered firm reported turnover of £29.1m, bringing the firm to 11 consecutive years of solid revenue growth. Corporate was among the fastest-growing practice areas last year posting 10% growth on 2020, behind only the firm’s intellectual property team, which reported a 17% growth.

King said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as managing partner at the firm – culminating in a particularly strong financial performance this year as we celebrate a return to normality after the pandemic.  I am delighted to see James taking up the reins – he has led our market-leading corporate practice for the last seven years and is well placed to steer the firm to future success, supported by a strong leadership team.’

His successor, whose appointment was effective as of 1 May, joined the firm in 2001 from Macfarlanes and became partner in 2007. Waddell – who is described in The Legal 500 as ‘bright, thorough, unflappable’ – has experience in a range of corporate, corporate finance and related regulatory mandates.

Waddell (pictured) commented: ‘The last five years have been an incredibly challenging time to run any business, and Richard has led our firm magnificently over that period. As a result, I am taking on the role while the firm continues to go from strength to strength and we have great ambition for our future growth and success.’

As part of the senior leadership shift, Keith Syson has been elected as senior partner replacing corporate partner Richard Baxter after a decade in the role, and litigator Sarah Murray takes over from Jonathan Porteous as head of the firm’s international practice group. Meanwhile, head of the corporate tax department, Kate Schmit, takes on the newly created role of strategy partner.

Gearing up for the Waddell’s promise of future growth, the firm has also bolstered its partnership with the addition of four. The additions include external hires of corporate and regulatory partner Heidi Sawtell, who joined from Andover-based firm Talbot Walker and brings insurance sector specialism, and new private client partner Gareth Walliss, who joins from Shoosmiths where he was a principal associate.

Meanwhile, restructuring expert Matt Padian and family lawyer Grace Parker-White were promoted to the partnership.