Legal Business Blogs

Parkinson stays away from SFO director race to take senior partner role at Kingsley Napley

Despite calls for him to succeed David Green as the new director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), heavyweight white-collar crime specialist Stephen Parkinson will become senior partner of Kingsley Napley on 1 May.

As a result of Parkinson’s elevation, disputes partner Louise Hodges will take over his role as head of the firm’s top-ranked criminal litigation practice.

Parkinson (pictured) will succeed Jane Keir, who has served as senior partner since 2013. Keir, who is Kingsley Napley’s first female senior partner, will return to fee-earning as a family law partner.

Parkinson’s career has seen him represent various corporates and senior business individuals in relation to SFO, HMRC and CPS investigations. Notably, Parkinson represented former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks during the phone-hacking investigations and the Leveson inquiry.

Parkinson told Legal Business that he had run unopposed in the senior partner election, adding: ‘For the last 15 years I have been immersed in my team, but this new role is a chance to step outside and get to know the rest of the firm a bit more. The senior partner role quite unusual, you stand above the fray to an extent but people look to you for leadership. You have to provide that leadership without getting too immersed in the detail.’

On his replacement, Hodges, Parkinson said: ‘She’s an absolutely phenomenal defence lawyer. She’s amazingly experienced and a great manager and a great motivator of people. One of the reasons I felt I could move on from leading the team was because I have total confidence in Louise leading the team very well.’

He added that he will continue his practice in business and financial crime litigation ‘both because I enjoy it and want to maintain my interaction with clients and because I wish to continue to work at the coalface alongside my excellent colleagues.’

Hodges said: ‘It is a great honour to be taking over the leadership of the Kingsley Napley criminal litigation team – in my view the top criminal defence job in the country.’

Last year, Parkinson was cited by white-collar peers as a potential successor to current SFO director David Green, who will stand down from the position in April.

At the time, Parkinson drolly noted: ‘That moment passed 14 years ago when they didn’t select me.’