Legal Business

HSF’s qualifying trainee retention rate falls as Stephenson Harwood keeps 90% of intake

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ (HSF) qualified trainee retention score has dipped to 80% while City-headquartered firm Stephenson Harwood recorded a significant increase in its autumn 2017 trainee retention rates for this autumn.

At the same time last year, in contrast, HSF retained 94% of its autumn qualifying trainees.

The firm offered 28 out of 35 final-year trainees a qualified role this autumn, which all 28 accepted. Four of those NQs will be based overseas, two in Paris, one in Singapore and one in Dubai.

HSF training principal and dispute resolution partner James Baily said: ‘We are very pleased that four of our London trainees in this round are qualifying into overseas offices, which demonstrates the global opportunities that are available for our trainee solicitors.

Meanwhile, nine out of City-headquartered firm Stephenson Harwood’s ten (90%) qualifying trainees have been offered and accepted positions at its London office, marking an improvement over last autumn when 77% of trainees were retained.

The shipping and insurance-focused international firm said newly-qualified lawyers (NQs) will take up roles in the firm’s corporate, marine and international trade, commercial litigation and finance practices.

Stephenson Harwood finance partner and trainee principal Neil Noble told Legal Business that the increased retention was due to demand: ‘We have to look at which practice areas of the business were in need of recruitment. Luckily there was widespread demand across the firm so we had spaces for everyone.’

Noble also stated that commercial litigation was the main practice area at the firm that was in need of added depth.

Stephenson Harwood posted a mixed financial year, with revenues up 11% to £176m but profit per equity partner falling 9% to £708,000. HSF similarly reported unusual results 2016/17, as its revenue grew also by 11% to £920.5m but profit per equity partner fell 3% to £760,000.

In comparison, autumn trainee retention rates at Trowers & Hamlinswere 70%, while Withers kept 73% of its final-year group.

Legal Business

Financials 2016/17: Stephenson Harwood revenues climb 11% as PEP falls 9%

Stephenson Harwood has posted another year of growth with revenues up 11% to £176m. The firm, however, saw a drop of 9% in its profits per equity partner (PEP), the number dipping to £708,000, partly due to the effect of the Brexit vote last June. 

The firm’s revenues jumped by £18,000 this financial year from last year’s £158m figure, a 9% increase on the previous year. PEP also grew during the 2015/16 financial year by 1% to £774,000, an £11,000 leap.

In 2014/15 firm, the firm’s revenues increased by an impressive 20%. Although those figures were boosted by fees from several multi-year matters, the firm said that even discounting those payments it still achieved an underlying 16% growth rate.

Discussing the firm’s revenues current increase, Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sharon White (pictured) told Legal Business : ‘We were all shocked by the Brexit result and it did certainly impact on our transactional teams, particularly real estate and corporate.’

‘In the autumn we saw some of those deals come back on track as well as new activity. We’ve ended up having strong performances in all of our practice groups and all of our offices,’ she said.

On the firm’s small fall in PEP, White said they were ‘expecting [the drop], and as much as anything it’s about balancing the investment we need for the longer term health and growth of the firm against the short term.’

The firm has invested over the last five years, when it grew 50% in revenue terms. ‘Our PEP figure this year is still strong and compares well to our peer firms,’ White said. 

‘If you look at our PEP figures over the last few years in 2013/14 we were just over the $500,000 mark. We had big leaps up in the coming two financial years. We always regarded those fabulous years with the knowledge that we may not be able to sustain quite so heavy heights,’ she added.

The firm recruited three King & Wood Mallesons partners in the wake of its European collapse earlier this year, including former UK private equity co-head Jonathan Pittal.

Private equity partners Warren Allan and Gabriel Boghossian also joined the firm, bringing experience advising clients such as Bowmark Capital, Lloyds Banking Group, Unicredit Bank AG, Risk Capital Partners, Core Capital, SL Capital Partners, Pantheon Ventures, Lexington Capital Partners, Temasek, Goldman Sachs Vintage Fund, Oak Hill Capital Partners and Unigestion SA.

Separately, three lawyers were promoted to partner in the firm’s reduced promotion round this year, including commercial litigation lawyers Donna Newman, Sophie Schultz and finance lawyer George Vaughton in the firm’s London office.

Stephenson Harwood also made up one local finance partner, Elton Chan, to the firm’s Hong Kong office. Its largest ever nine partner intake took place in 2016.

This March, the firm also re-appointed its management team. Stephenson Harwood’s supervisory council extended White’s existing term for a further two years, her original three-year term was due to expire this September.

Senior partner Roland Foord was elected for a second term. He will continue in the role for a further three years, reduced from the previous five-year term.

Legal Business

Stephenson Harwood promotes three in reduced round as TLT introduces eight new partners

Stephenson Harwood has promoted three to partner in a reduced round following last year’s largest ever nine partner intake, while TLT has increased its promotions with six making partner.

Alongside the three, the firm has also made up one to local partner. Commercial litigation lawyers Donna Newman, Sophie Schultz and finance lawyer George Vaughton have been promoted in the firm’s London office while finance lawyer Elton Chan will become a local partner in the firm’s Hong Kong office.

In 2016 Stephenson Harwood promoted nine lawyers across its London, Paris, Hong Kong, Piraeus and Dubai offices, with three finance partners and two corporate partners making up five of the nine promotions. The firm also appointed two marine and international trade local partners in their Hong Kong office. In 2015 the firm had promoted five, all in London.

Meanwhile, TLT has promoted seven associates and one legal director to partner. Litigation lawyer Matthew Forrest, employment lawyer Siobhan Fitzgerald, commercial lawyers Dan Read and Patrick Sweeney, real estate lawyers Matthew Grimwood and Patrick Sheehan, corporate lawyer Antonia Silvestri and commercial dispute resolution lawyer Victoria Mabbett will all become partners on 1 May.

Five of TLT’s promotions are based in the firm’s Bristol office with two in Manchester and one in London. The firm has also promoted four real estate associates to legal director.

Senior partner Andrew Glynn said: ‘This is our largest round of promotions in a number of years, signifying the growth of the firm across the UK. We attribute that growth to the dedication and hard work of our people, and are pleased to be able to recognise and reward it. It is also notable that an increasing number of those promoted have flexible working arrangements, and the firm continues to explore these and other methods of retaining talent within the business.’

TLT made up six lawyers to partner last year, bringing the firm’s total partner headcount to over 100 for the first time. The promotions were in the firm’s commercial services, and banking and lender services groups, with lawyers based in Belfast, Bristol, London and Manchester.

Promotions in full:

Stephenson Harwood

Donna Newman, commercial litigation, London

Sophie Schultz, commercial litigation, London

George Vaughton, finance, London

Elton Chan, finance, Hong Kong


Matthew Forrest, property litigation, Manchester

Siobhan Fitzgerald, employment, Bristol

Dan Read, commercial law, Bristol

Patrick Sweeney, commercial law, London

Matthew Grimwood, real estate, Bristol

Patrick Sheehan, real estate, Manchester

Antonia Silvestri, corporate, Bristol

Victoria Mabbett, commercial dispute resolution, Bristol

Legal Business

News in brief – April 2017


Approximately 300 support staff roles are to be cut at CMS Cameron McKenna, Olswang and Nabarro ahead of their triple merger next month. The firms ran a redundancy consultation from January to March, with 650 of the 950 support staff offered roles in the combined firm.


Legal Business

‘We’ve set out our vision’: Stephenson Harwood reappoints management duo

Stephenson Harwood has re-appointed its management team with Sharon White staying on as the firm’s chief executive while Roland Foord has been re-elected as senior partner.

The firm’s supervisory council has extended White’s existing term for a further two years with her original three year term due to expire in September this year. White (pictured) was first appointed as chief executive in 2009 and previously served as the firm’s London head of corporate for six years. She joined Stephenson Harwood in 1988 and was made up to partner nine years later.

The firm elected senior partner Roland Foord for a second term. He will sit in the position for three years, a reduction from the previous five year term. Litigation partner Foord won the vote after standing uncontested. He joined the firm in 1985 and made partner in 1989. He also currently leads the firm’s professional services and art law teams.

Foord replaced corporate partner Andrew Sutch in 2012 who stood down after ten years in the role to go back into full time fee-earning.

White said: ‘I’m looking forward to continuing to build our already successful firm, making it stronger and better positioned to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive market. We have set out our vision for the next five years and we are focused on strengthening our capabilities, attracting and retaining the best people, and building stronger client relationships.’

The pair have overseen impressive year-on-year growth at the firm across their terms. In 2015/16 Stephenson Harwood increased revenues by 9% on the year previous from £145m to £158m. Profits per equity partner also increased by 1.4%, up by £11,000 to £774,000.

Last April the firm hired Ashurst corporate partner and board member Anthony Clare who left the firm after 14 years.

In January this year it was revealed the firm had picked up three King & Wood Mallesons private equity partners. UK private equity co-head Jonathan Pittal, one of four heavyweights that quit the firm in October, joined alongside Warren Allan and Gabriel Boghossian.

Legal Business

Stephenson Harwood picks up three partner PE team from KWM

Stephenson Harwood has picked up three King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) private equity partners including former UK private equity co-head Jonathan Pittal, one of the four heavyweights that quit the firm in October.

Warren Allan and Gabriel Boghossian will join Pittal at the LB100 firm. Together the trio have acted for clients such as Bowmark Capital, Lloyds Banking Group, Unicredit Bank AG, Risk Capital Partners, Core Capital, SL Capital Partners, Pantheon Ventures, Lexington Capital Partners, Temasek, Goldman Sachs Vintage Fund, Oak Hill Capital Partners and Unigestion SA. The trio of partners are expected to take with them as many as six associates and two trainees.

Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sharon White said: ‘This move reflects our strategy to continue to grow and strengthen our firm. The calibre and experience of Jonathan, Warren and Gabriel demonstrates our ability to attract the very best lawyers, while further developing our corporate offering.’

Pittal (pictured) was one of four sudden resignations which triggered a partnership meeting held on 27 October and the halt of the firm’s recapitalisation plan. Private equity partner and major biller Michael Halford, former managing partner Rob Day and corporate finance partner Andrew Wingfield also announced their exits. Three of them were among the 20 highest-billing partners at the firm.

Meanwhile, Goodwin Procter has applied to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for permission to bring in five trainees. The trainees will join investment funds partner and major biller Michael Halford. It was announced he would be joining the US firm in November

Yesterday (5 January) it emerged Baker & McKenzie will take on two partners from KWM including private equity partner Will Holder and employment partner Carl Richards. The pair arrive with a team of five associates including members of the private equity and employment teams. Fieldfisher has also hired technology partner James Walsh, whilst Debevoise & Plimpton announced it is taking on private equity lawyer Simon Witney as a consultant.

In Germany, Frankfurt-based corporate partner Michiel Huizinga is expected to move to Allen & Overy while DLA Piper has taken on the firm’s former head of real estate for Germany Lars Reubekeul and real estate partner Florian Biesalski.

KWM is currently in the process of appointing administrators before 16 January. In December the firm confirmed its European arm had filed a Notice of Intention to Appoint Administrators with the court.

On Wednesday (4 January) it was revealed by Legal Business that KWM’s European arm had stopped paying 100 staff. Employees were notified of the decision on 3 January – the first day back for many after the Christmas break.

Legal Business

‘Feel good factor’: Norton Rose and Stephenson Harwood advise on £350m Civitas IPO


After a slow spell for the initial public offering (IPO) market, Norton Rose Fulbright and Stephenson Harwood have picked up mandates on Civitas Social Housing’s float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

The listing raised £350m last Friday (18 November), above initial estimates of around £250m when the deal was first announced at the start of November.

Norton Rose advised Civitas on the float which was the first social housing focused real estate investment fund to list on the LSE. The firm’s team was led by corporate partner Michael Newell with a tax team led by partner Angela Savin.

Stephenson Harwood acted for Cenkos Securities, the sole sponsor and financial adviser on the float. Stephenson Harwood investments partner Alex Haynes told Legal Business: ‘This social housing play is the first of its kind. People were excited about it coming to market and the deal had a feel good factor to it in freeing up capital for further social housing development.’

Norton Rose partner Newell added: ‘There is a significant social housing shortage in the UK which requires innovative solutions. Civitas will have the opportunity to assist housing associations and local authorities to free up the capital required to expand their development programmes.’

The second half of 2016 has seen a relative pick-up in IPO work after in a slow year. In London a number of headline IPOs have fallen through, including a float for fintech firm Misys, automotive company TI Fluid Systems and PureGym.

However, an IPO for medical supplier ConvaTec was completed in late October, raising around £1.5bn. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Chris Mort led for ConvaTec, while Linklaters partners James Wootton, Dan Schuster-Woldan and Mike Bienenfield led the advice for the banks.

Legal Business

The growth continues: Stephenson Harwood posts 9% bump in another record turnover year


Stephenson Harwood has posted another record financial year, with revenue up 9% on last year from £145m to £158m.

Profits per equity partner also increased by 1.4% in the 2015/16 financial year, up by £11,000 to £774,000.

The increase follows 2014/15’s impressive 20% rise in revenue. Although those figures were boosted by fees from several multi-year matters, the firm said that discounting those payments still saw it achieve an underlying growth rate of 16%.

Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sharon White (pictured) said the firm has witnessed consistent growth across its sectors and believes a focus on clients and team work has contributed to Stephenson Harwood’s year-on-year growth.

‘Our profitability was fantastic last year so I think to have matched that and manage an increase, albeit relatively modest on that performance, is quite something so we’re very pleased about that. We’ve had good performance across the piece; all of our offices, all of our practices have had a great year.

She added: ‘I’m really encouraged to see and hear about lots of things we’re doing with those new partners and our pre-existing partners, working with them and going out together to see clients and contacts shows good prospects.’

The firm has made a number of notable hires across the financial year, bringing in Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co corporate finance partner Karima Hudson and Ashurst corporate partner Anthony Clare to its London office. Stephenson Harwood also made a significant boost to its Hong Kong office, bringing in Eversheds trade finance partner King Tak Fung and commercial litigator partner Ivan Ng alongside Withers private wealth partner Erik Wallace to its Asia hub.

The hires coincide with its newly formalised association with Chinese law firm Wei Tu earlier this year, permitted under a free trade agreement, Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), between mainland China and Hong Kong. The association means Stephenson Harwood can practise Chinese law through Wei Tu.

In April the firm announced its largest ever promotions round, introducing nine to partnership across its London, Paris, Hong Kong, Piraeus and Dubai office, with three finance partners, two corporate partners making up five of the nine promotions. Last year the firm had promoted five in all London, across three practice areas.

Filings at Companies House posted at the beginning of this year show the highest-paid LLP member at Stephenson Harwood took home £1.3m during the last financial year compared to just over £1m the previous year – an increase of nearly 30% on what was paid in 2013/14.

Other LB100 firms to report this season include Osborne Clarke, which has seen a 23% rise in global revenues to €236.3m with the firm posting a UK revenue rise of 17% from £96.5m in 2015 to £112.9m. TLT posted the second-best turnover increase of the season so far, with a 15% bump to hit £71.6m for the 2015/16 financial year while Forsters’ 11% jump in revenue to £46.2m marks the West End firm’s sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth.






Legal Business

Revolving doors: DWF makes major corporate City hire as A&O and Stephenson Harwood make international appointments


DWF has appointed a new London head of corporate while Allen & Overy (A&O) and Stephenson Harwood have both made lateral hires to their international offices.

In a move to ‘significantly grow’ its corporate offering, DWF has hired Squire Patton Boggs head of capital markets Matthew Doughty to lead its London corporate division. With over 20 years’ experience, Doughty specialises in mid-market M&A, equity capital markets transactions and ongoing securities law advice for both private and publicly owned companies. National head of corporate at DWF Frank Shephard said the firm’s national team has a ‘very clear’ growth plan, ‘which involves investing in our London office and increasing its connectivity with the firm’s regional hubs in order to deliver high-value corporate work for clients with greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness and expertise.’

The senior director of antitrust at Philips, Yvo de Vries, is to join A&O’s Amsterdam office as partner in its global antitrust practice. Before his time at the lighting company, de Vries was the head of the EU litigation department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A&O Amsterdam senior partner Ferdinand Grapperhaus said: ‘the unique combination of his experience as a lawyer, a litigator in Luxembourg and an in-house counsel at Philips make him a huge asset to our practice.’

Stephenson Harwood has also made an international lateral hire with the addition of Erik Wallace to its private wealth team. Wallace, who will be based in the firm’s Hong Kong office, joins from Withers. Stephenson Harwood Greater China private wealth head Ian Devereux said: ‘With his reputation and expertise in US taxation and estate planning matters, his arrival will significantly enhance the ambit of service we can provide to our Asian clients with US nexus. Having a partner of Erik’s calibre join the firm fits perfectly with the level of expertise our clients expect.’

Chadbourne & Parke has hired Bryan Cave’s head of Central Eastern Europe and CIS team Irina Tymczyszyn as partner to its international arbitration and public international law practice in London. Tymczyszyn advises major international clients in the area of disputes relating to shareholders’ and investment agreements, construction agreements, agreements relating to oil and gas industries and fraud.

Legal Business

Stephenson Harwood and Charles Russell Speechlys promote nine to partnership in bumper rounds


Both Stephenson Harwood and Charles Russell Speechlys have promoted nine partners, with the two firms almost doubling the number of promotions they made last year.

With its 2016 round promotions as its largest ever, Stephenson Harwood has made hires across its London, Paris, Hong Kong, Piraeus and Dubai offices, with three finance partners, two corporate partners making up five of the nine promotions. The firm has also appointed two marine and international trade local partners in their Hong Kong office. The nine promotions boost the number of partners the firm has hired to 12 during the 2015/16 financial year.

Last year the firm had promoted five all in London, across three practice areas with its marine and international trade, commercial litigation and finance groups.

Stephenson Harwood chief executive Sharon White said it was ‘particularly heartening’ to be announcing the firm’s highest number of internal partner promotions.

Charles Russell Speechlys has also promoted nine, hiring three in Guilford and the rest in London.

The promotion round is the second since the Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham merger in 2014, creating a firm with 170 partners, a total of 500 lawyers, and combined revenues of £135m.

Last year the firm had made up five lawyers, across its private client, real estate, corporate, restructuring and commercial practices.

Senior partner Christopher Page said: ‘they are all outstanding practitioners in their fields and a credit to the firm, exemplifying our values. The breath of talent that we’re promoting this year, including 14 who have been with us throughout their careers since they were trainees, reflects our greatest strength as a business: our people. We have never lost sight of the fact that it is the quality and dedication to client service of our people that drives our continued success.’

Stephenson Harwood partner promotions in full:

Graeme Barton, corporate (projects and infrastructure), London

Anthony Chan, corporate, Hong Kong

Roy Chan, finance, Hong Kong

Nicolas Demigneux, commercial litigation, Paris

Rob Jacob, intellectual property, London

Kiersten Lucas, employment, London

Dora Mace-Kokota, finance, London

John Meehan, tax, London

Chris Vartzis, finance, Piraeus

Charles Russell Speechly partner promotions in full:

Jamie Cartwright, litigation dispute resolution, Guildford

David Coates, corporate, London

Thomas Duggins, family, London

James Eighteen, litigation dispute resolution, London

Martin Griffiths, corporate tax, London

William Marriott, private property, Guildford

Tamasin Perkins, contentious trusts and estates, London

Ben Smith, employment, Guildford

Nicola Thorpe, private client, London