Legal Business

Trio of top-30 firms unveil new partners with Taylor Wessing and HFW boosting promotions rounds

LB100 top-30 firms Taylor Wessing, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and Dentons have all announced their Spring partner promotions covering the UK and beyond.

For Taylor Wessing, it is an increased UK round compared to last year when just one lawyer was made up to its London partnership. This year, the firm has promoted three lawyers to its partnership, with a further five being made up to senior counsel.

Among those being promoted is Katie Chandler, a dispute resolution lawyer who joined Taylor Wessing as a trainee in 2005. Chandler acts for clients spanning the retail, technology and life sciences sectors. Lerika Jourbet, who joined Taylor Wessing from Slaughter and May in 2013, has been promoted into the firm’s banking and finance practice. Edward Story, another Taylor Wessing lifer, has been elevated to partnership in the firm’s corporate division.

Taylor Wessing managing partner Tim Eyles commented: ‘Their original thinking and willingness always to challenge and be challenged are qualities we value just as highly as their technical skill and client relationships – and indeed which we think add to the latter.’

Despite the growth on last year’s partner promotions, the three elevated this year contrasts with the 16-strong UK round Taylor Wessing unveiled five years ago, although 15 of those came in non-UK offices.

Elsewhere, HFW has promoted eight new partners, but with just one in the UK. Alex Kemp, a litigator in the marine sector, is the sole lawyer promoted in London. Last year, the firm made up two lawyers in the capital.

The remaining seven new partners have been made up internationally, with three in Australia, two in Dubai and one each in Houston and Singapore.

Similarly, Dentons has recorded a slump in its London partner promotions, elevating five this year compared to seven in 2017. In a global round that saw the firm promote 36 new partners, Tessa Blank, Simon Elliot, Christopher Graf and Christopher Thomson were made up in London, while Jane Miles was promoted in Milton Keynes.

Early signs are mixed for partner promotions generally this year, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announcing yesterday (4 April) it had promoted a modest five lawyers to its London partnership. However, Linklaters increased the size of its promotions round for the fifth year in a row, adding 27 lawyers to its partnership. Similarly, Slaughter and May saw a dip in the number of promotions, while Hogan Lovells and Pinsent Masons recorded increases.

Legal Business

Eversheds and HFW disclose gender pay gaps for partners but calls mount for an end to cherry-picked stats

The one-upmanship and tactical disclosures from law firms are gradually revealing more about entrenched gender pay gaps. Next up, Eversheds Sutherland has reported that its female equity partners are paid 10% more on average, while top 50 UK firm HFW has provided breakdowns for its entire workforce.

Eversheds’ report, published today (28 March), reveals its statutory pay gap for employees is 23% on average, rising to 25% on a median basis. The bonus difference is 43% on average, dropping to 31% median.

But the firm also disclosed partner pay figures, as others including Clifford Chance (CC), Pinsent Masons and Norton Rose Fulbright have recently done. These figures show Eversheds’ female equity partners earn 10% more on average, and 8% more on a median basis. The fixed share partner pay difference is 4% more for males on average, and 6% for the median, however. The firm’s partnership is currently 27% female.

Eversheds chief executive Lee Ranson commented: ‘Our numbers, in keeping with most of our peer firms, clearly demonstrate there is work to be done here. As a profession, we must all seek to address the issues that have been thrown in to sharp relief through the gender pay reporting process.’

Earlier this week, Pinsents senior partner Richard Foley called for changes to the gender pay reporting regime ahead of next year, saying there was a perception hardening that lawyers and accountants are trying to duck the issue by not publishing their partner numbers. CC, meanwhile, reported its overall pay disparity which included total partner earnings, including any bonuses or profit share entitlements, revealing a 66% pay gap on a mean basis and 44% on a median basis.

Also publishing breakdowns today was HFW, which cited no differential in average hourly pay for its fee-earners, while its female associates are paid 5% more on average than males. The firm noted, however, that the outwardly strong numbers on female associates were in part a result of having a concentration of highly-paid associates beneath a male-dominated partnership.

The energy and shipping specialist’s statutory pay gap (meaning all staff, not including partners) sees men paid 17% more on an average basis, rising to 31% for the median. Its bonus gap is 41% more for males on average, and 54% on a median basis. Male partners at the firm earn 9% more on average, while the median gap is 28%.

HFW managing partner Marcus Bowman commented: ‘We take our commitments to diversity and inclusion very seriously, so we are very pleased that our report confirms that there is no difference in average pay or access to a bonus for male and female fee-earners at the firm. But we also acknowledge that the results show that we need to work harder to ensure gender diversity across all of our roles, particularly at the most senior levels of the firm. This is a serious challenge facing the entire legal industry and one that we are determined to overcome.’

The flurry of disclosures have been met with an increasing recognition of the difficulty of establishing benchmarks that are both meaningful and provide realistic like-for-like comparisons. Growing numbers are calling for the industry to come together to agree some common approaches. It would certainly help the ranks of innumerate legal hacks.

Legal Business

HFW strengthens Singapore with South East Asia triple play

Energy and shipping specialist HFW has made a major play in its longstanding Singapore office, bringing in a trio of partners from rivals in the region.

HFW now boasts an 18-partner office in Singapore following the arrivals of finance partner Siri Wennevik, projects and energy partner Alistair Duffield and corporate partner Ivan Chia, taking the firm’s total partner additions in the region to six over the last year. HFW now has over 100 lawyers and 58 partners across its six Asia-Pacific branches.

Wennevik joins from Norwegian law firm Wikborg Rein after previously acting as its Singapore managing partner. Wennevik’s practice spans shipping, offshore finance and commercial transactions with a particular focus on asset, project and cross-border financings.

Duffield arrives at HFW from White & Case, and was previously Berwin Leighton Paisner’s managing partner for South East Asia as well as co-head of its mining and natural resources group. Duffield, who advises energy and mining companies on M&A transactions, is returning to HFW after previously acting for the firm for eight years from 2003 as head of its mining group.

Chia operates in the energy and transport sectors and offers corporate transactional counsel. He joins HFW from fellow energy and shipping specialist Watson Farley & Williams (WFW), who established a new Singapore office in December last year after securing an alliance with local firm Wong Tan & Molly Lim.

HFW senior partner Richard Crump commented: ‘Siri gives us even greater critical mass in ship finance across the region, while Ivan will help grow our renewables offering. We’re also extremely pleased to welcome Alistair back. He is vastly experienced and will be a real boost for the office. We will continue to target further growth opportunities in the aerospace, commodities, construction, energy, insurance and shipping sectors.’

HFW first opened an office in Singapore in 1990, and added to its presence in South East Asia in November last year through an association with Indonesian practice Rahayu & Partners. In early 2016, HFW entered a formal association with Shanghai outfit Wintell & Co, enabling it to offer domestic law.

Legal Business

Partner promotions: DLA halves London round, as HFW makes up three

DLA Piper announced today (2 May) that it has promoted 46 to its partnership across the US, EMEA and Asia Pacific, while Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) made up three to partner in its latest round.

The new partners join DLA in 28 offices, across 13 countries. The firm promoted two fewer globally than it did last year, however it only made up four in London, compared to eight promoted in 2016.

In London, the firm promoted Chris Chan in real estate, Patrick Mitchell in intellectual property and technology, Edward Shaw in litigation and regulator and Richard Skipper in finance and projects.

In the UK, DLA promoted nine, 20% of the overall round, less than the 29% it promoted last year. The firm also made up 17 to partner in the US followed by 12 across continental Europe, four in the United Arab Emirates, two in China and a further two in Australia.

Across the firm’s practice groups globally, corporate saw the largest intake of new partners with 10 promotions, followed by litigation and regulatory with nine, finance and projects with seven and employment with five. Intellectual property and technology, real estate and tax each had four promotions, while there were only two in restructuring and one in government affairs.

The DLA promotions are effective as of 1 January 2017 in the United States and 1 May 2017 for EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, HFW has elevated its compliance officer for legal practice Gavin Hadfield who is based in London. Before joining HFW in 2014, Hadfield was a risk lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. London commercial and commodities lawyer Andrew Williams and Brussels based aviation lawyer Stéphanie Golinvaux have also been made up to partner in the latest promotion round. HFW also promoted four to legal director with one in Hong Kong and three in London taking up the position. The promotions went through on April 1.

DLA City partner promotions in full:

Chris Chan, real estate, London

Patrick Mitchell, intellectual property & technology, London

Edward Shaw, litigation & regulatory, London

Richard Skipper, finance & projects, London

HFW promotions in full:

Stéphanie Golinvaux, Brussels, aviation

Gavin Hadfield, London, risk and compliance

Andrew Williams, London, commercial

Legal Business

LLP accounts: Holman Fenwick slashes top member pay as Fieldfisher boosts leadership remuneration

The latest release of firm LLP accounts at Companies House has seen Holman Fenwick Willian drastically reduce pay to its top member, as Fieldfisher has increased its top member pay and given more to its leadership team.

Holman Fenwick Willan LLP’s top paid member took home £950,000 for the 2015/16 financial year, a decline from the previous year when the firm’s top paid member earned a robust £3.6m, marking a decrease of 74%. This figure in LLP accounts does not necessarily equate to the highest paid equity partner and can relate to ‘golden handshakes’ to retiring members.

The total number of fee earners also rose to 466 from 2014/15’s 444, while the number of members at the firm remained static at 164. Holman Fenwick increased its staff costs to £52.5m from £49.3m and recorded profits of £49.4m for the last financial year, indicating a 12% increase over 2014/15’s profits of £43.4m.

According to the accounts, Holman Fenwick borrowed £12.4m during the course of the financial year from banks, down on £10.7m from the previous financial year at a percentage decrease of approximately 14%. The statement also indicated that its total bank overdraft facilities amount to £5.5m.

Meanwhile, Fieldfisher recorded a significant upsurge in profit for the financial year 2015/16, and management at the firm benefited, with the members of the firm’s executive committee and supervisory board taking home £9.75m collectively, up from £7.9m the year before.

A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘The firm’s management team has increased in order to better manage the growth in the size of the business. However, when it comes to remuneration, we have a very fair structure which rewards the firm’s highest performers – whether members of management or not.’

The year’s figure of profit before members’ remuneration is £51.3m, about 20% up on 2014/15’s sum of £43.1m. Increase in profits has coincided with a general growth of the business, as the firm has broadened its number of total staff. The figure for 2015/2016 of 597 fee earners and support staff is a marginal increase over the year before’s 559. As a result, Fieldfisher’s total staff costs have risen by approximately £3m, from £33.3m to £36m.

At the top of the company, the highest paid member pocketed £1.2m over the course of the year, however this was a slight decline on last year’s figure of £1.24m. According to the accounts, the firm also slashed its bank overdraft to £1.1m from £5.8m. Despite the downturn in earnings at the top of the pyramid, Fieldfisher has bolstered the number of partners since 2015. There are now 152 members, in comparison to 2015’s 137.

Legal Business

‘A major business hub’: HFW enters the US with Houston acquisition


Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) is to gain a US presence by taking over Houston law firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown.

The eight partner litigation firm will join HFW’s 151 partners on January 3. Legge Farrow services energy, marine, insurance, financial, manufacturing, hospitality, health, construction and technology industries and has clients such as BP, AIG and Zurich.

The new Houston office will bring HFW’s office count to 15, adding to its offering across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. HFW’s accounts for the 2015/16 financial year showed that the UK generates more than half its revenue, or about £70m.

The firm has been steadily bulking up its offering over the past two years, hiring Herbert Smith Freehills solicitor advocate and partner Christopher Foster in July. HFW also took on Reed Smith corporate partners Giles Beale and James Wilson in December last year, Stephen Marais from rival Ince & Co and energy partners Alexander Reid and Jonathan Martin, who joined from Baker Botts and Fasken Martineau respectively.

HFW’s turnover was up by 3% to £141.3m in 2015/16, having risen 27% since 2011. The London headquartered firm posted a 7% increase in profits per equity partner (PEP) to £501,000.

HFW global senior partner Richard Crump said: ‘Houston represents a major business hub for us. Having an on-the-ground US office has been a goal for some time and this merger will bring us closer to our existing clients in the region, and enable us to develop more business in our key sectors of oil and gas, marine and aviation, which are key growth sectors in the region, as well as building out our sector capability.’


Legal Business

Holman Fenwick continues recruitment drive with HSF litigator Foster


Holman Fenwick Willan has recruited another key lateral to its City practice, this time with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) solicitor advocate and partner Christopher Foster.

Foster is a commercial litigator specialised in contentious insurance and reinsurance matters. He advises on policy drafting (both direct and reinsurance), commutations, portfolio transfers and the insurance aspects of corporate transactions.

Major instructions under his belt include advising on losses arising out of California wildfires; the invasion of Kuwait; WorldCom; Exxon Valdez oil spill; Madoff and hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Juliette, Ivan and Wilma.

He also advised Graff on its Bond Street robbery, the largest ever UK insurance claim following a gem heist, and HSF’s longstanding client British American Tobacco on its exposure in the US for the pollution of the Lower Fox River in Wisconsin and the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Other disputes stars to exit HSF in the last twelve months include experienced arbitration partner Matthew Weiniger QC, who departed for Linklaters last summer.

Holman Fenwick has been on a recruitment drive for the last year, having hired Reed Smith corporate partners Giles Beale and James Wilson in December, Stephen Marais from rival Ince & Co and energy partners Alexander Reid and Jonathan Martin, who joined from Baker Botts and Fasken Martineau respectively. The firm also had a strong promotions round, electing nine new partners to ‘drive international expansion.’

The move to build out its offering follows a difficult financial year, with a 15% slide in profits per equity partner (PEP) for the 2014/15 year which saw a 3% drop in revenue from £144m to £139m. The falling numbers marked the end of a steady increase in recent years with turnover up by 2% in 2013/14 and PEP up 5%, while in 2012/13 the firm saw revenue grow to £141m, up from £124m the previous year.

Legal Business

Promotions 2016: Holman Fenwick goes global in nine-strong partner round as RPC makes up City trio


With promotions season in full swing, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and City law firm RPC  are the latest to announce their numbers, with HFW electing nine new partners to ‘drive international expansion’.

The 427-lawyer firm has boosted its partner ranks within its aviation, commodities, insurance, shipping, corporate, and employment practices across London, Geneva, Paris, Singapore and Shanghai. It is a notable increase on last year’s promotion round of four, while six of the 2016 promotions are in HFW’s foreign offices. The nine-strong round includes four female partners. HFW senior partner Richard Crump said: ‘We continue to invest in our strategy of international growth in our core sectors.’

Meanwhile, RPC’s new partners include corporate specialist Nigel Collins, who serves as head of the firm’s Japan desk; IP and technology lawyer Ciara Cullen, who focuses on brand protection, licensing and sponsorship arrangements, and construction and engineering lawyer Jonathan Hutt. The promotions take effect on 1 May.

RPC operates an all-equity model and has 75 partners and over 300 other lawyers. Other investments in 2016 by RPC – which last year promoted four new partners – include a tie-up with Singapore firm Premier Law as it targets claims against major banks.

On the latest promotions, RPC managing partner Jonathan Watmough (pictured) said: ‘Nigel, Ciara and Jonathan bring with them an enthusiasm and commitment to RPC’s future. With an all-equity model, we welcome them as genuine owners of the business.’

Other firms to announce promotions in recent weeks include Irwin Mitchell, which appointed six females partners in a 13-strong round; as well as Olswang, which made up two partners firm-wide including one in the City. Nabarro, meanwhile, promoted five partners.


Holman Fenwick Willan promotions:

  • Pauline Arroyo, insurance, Paris
  • Simon Clark, employment, London
  • Trevor Fox, shipping, Shanghai
  • Matthew Gore, corporate, London
  • Sarah Hunt, commodities, Geneva
  • Angie Lo, shipping, Hong Kong
  • Scott Pilkington, shipping, Singapore
  • Kate Seaton, aviation, Singapore
  • Zohar Zik, aviation, London

RPC promotions:

  • Nigel Collins, corporate
  • Ciara Cullen, IP & technology
  • Jonathan Hutt, construction & projects
Legal Business

Asia round-up: HFW enters association in Shanghai as Simmons hires former Dentons head for Singapore


Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) and Simmons & Simmons have made moves to boost their presence in Asia, with HFW entering a formal association with Shanghai firm Wintell & Co, while Simmons expands its financial markets practice in Singapore, hiring Dentons’ former managing partner.

Following approval by the Shanghai Justice Bureau, HFW has formalised its partnership with Wintell, which will enable the firm to practice domestic law. Shanghai-based Wintell has more than 20 partners and nearly 100 lawyers across Guangzhou, Tianjin, Ningbo and Zhoushan. The firm specialises in shipping, insurance and corporate law.

After working with Wintell for many years, HFW says its Shanghai office will come together with the firm to ‘take advantage of the strong client base of each firm, combining HFW’s international footprint with Wintell’s local Chinese law expertise to provide clients with enhanced on the ground service.’

Meanwhile Simmons has appointed Dentons’ former managing partner of its Singapore office Matthew Cox, to its financial market practice. Denton’s Singapore office was closed in early 2015 after the announcement of its combination with one of China’s biggest law firms, Dacheng, which at the time of the pairing formed a 6,600-lawyer giant operating under a Swiss verein structure.

With almost 16 years’ experience, Cox has a particular focus on international structured trade and commodity finance and financings into emerging markets.

Head of Simmons’ financial markets group in Asia Rolfe Hayden said: ‘As opportunities for international trade increase, Matthew’s expertise will greatly enhance opportunities for our clients and our current offering in trade finance while complimenting experience across our international financial markets team.’

Legal Business

Holman Fenwick Willan posts revenue and profit slide in latest LLP accounts


The latest to emerge in a run of recent LLP filings is Holman Fenwick Willan, which has seen its revenue dip 5% to £139m from £145m while operating profit fell by 16% to £49.9m from £59m.

The consolidated accounts reveal profit for division among members also decreased by 15% to just under £46m.

Spending on salaries rose to £43.4m from £40.2m the previous year while the average number of people employed rose slightly to 769 from 759. Average profit per member dropped from £353,000 to £303,000 while the share of profit allocated to the member with the largest entitlement in the year to 31 March 2015 was £3.6m, from £11.3m in 2014.

The firm’s bank overdraft facilities stood at £5.5m and borrowings include a term loan of £7.1m at 31 March 2015 (down from £7.9m in 2014) which is not due until 2023.

Holman Fenwick, which has 13 offices including Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney and Sao Paulo, generates more than half its revenue, or about £70m, in the UK.

Despite a tough year for the insurance specialist, the firm has been in recruitment mode in recent months, having hired Stephen Marais from rival Ince & Co in October to build its asset finance practice, as well as Reed Smith corporate partner duo Giles Beale and James Wilson in December to ‘help domestic and international clients take advantage of transactional opportunities.’

Other recent filings reveal Clifford Chance’s 12-strong executive leadership committee took a pay cut as LLP filings showed the group saw an average 7% decrease in pay this last financial year as the firm’s revenue and profit also fell, while Allen & Overy’s c-suite took home almost 10% more last year off the back of strong revenues.