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‘Why shouldn’t she?’ A new take on partnership as Pallas takes first non-lawyer into the fold

Pallas Partners has taken advantage of its alternative business structure (ABS) to appoint its first non-lawyer, chief administrative officer Linda Penfold, to the partnership.

Penfold has more than 20 years of leadership experience in global law firms, managing operations across multiple jurisdictions and, at Pallas, has a mandate to lead the business services functions, office operations, and add strategic vision in improving client service.

The move announced on Wednesday (4 January) is in line with the stated ambition of managing partner and founder Natasha Harrison (pictured) when she launched the litigation boutique in January last year, taking a raft of influential partners with her from her erstwhile shop, Boies Schiller.

Having nailed its colours to the mast in July 2022 with the hire of Boies Schiller alumnus Duane Loft in New York to lead its US practice, Pallas has also made further investments on both sides of the Atlantic. Head of pro bono Kimmie Fearnside and solicitor advocate Alessia de Quincey have been promoted to counsel in London, while associate Anastasia Cembrovska has been promoted to counsel in New York.

Harrison praised their ‘outstanding work and dedication’ while noting: ‘I am especially pleased that all of these promotions came during maternity leave, which speaks to the fact we are committed to disrupting the inflexible old law firm model and promoting lawyers on output, not time spent in the office.’

Harrison spoke to Legal Business of her longstanding relationship with Penfold and the rationale behind making her a partner: ‘I always had in mind that Linda would become a partner and that’s one of the reasons I opted for an ABS, to allow us to be flexible, agile and modern. I’ve known Linda since 2003 when she was on the senior leadership team at Bingham and I was an associate and then a partner. She was the first person I called on when I set up the London office of Boies Schiller and she was the obvious choice when I founded Pallas.

‘Obviously I have a lot of experience running law firms but Linda has done nothing but run law firms. She is an extraordinary operations professional and she operates at partner level, so why shouldn’t she be made a partner? Often in law firms business services staff are seen as less important, just because they are not fee-generating. Linda has been crucial to the operating of Pallas. This is about valuing diversity of views, as well as developing the personal growth of the people who are most valuable to the team,’ concluded Harrison.