The 21st annual Legal Business Awards featured more than 900 guests in a gala ceremony on 18 April, hosted by a very popular choice – respected broadcaster, journalist and writer Mariella Frostrup.
Before the Awards, in-house guests gathered for the launch of our sixth annual GC Powerlist, The Team Elite, which looked at the outstanding in-house legal teams for the second time. In attendance were key representatives from FTSE 100 companies such as the Financial Times, Legal & General and Shire.
Then it was time to move to the Great Room at Grosvenor House for this year’s Legal Business Awards. Fieldfisher was crowned Law Firm of the Year after an impressive 36% revenue growth to £165m in 2016/17 – the largest rise of any law firm in the Legal Business 100 table.
It was a big night for Kirkland & Ellis too. The world’s highest-grossing firm secured two of the most sought-after awards, Private Equity Team of the Year and US Law Firm of the Year. Stephenson Harwood also picked up two awards on the night – Private Client Team of the Year, and another of the most coveted awards – Corporate Team of the Year – for its role advising Lavendon Group in its takeover by Loxam.
Individually, Allen & Overy ’s banking star Denise Gibson, who featured prominently in our cover feature Alphas this year about the leading female deal talent, was crowned Lawyer of the Year. Meanwhile, Glen Atchison’s decade at the helm of successful West End practice Harbottle & Lewis secured him Management Partner of the Year.
In other key practice categories, Norton Rose Fulbright scooped Finance Team of the Year for the pro bono work of the team led by chair-elect Farmida Bi advising the International Committee of the Red Cross on the development of the Humanitarian Impact Bond, while on the contentious side Charles Russell Speechlys was named International Arbitration Team of the Year for defending a Qatari telecoms provider against a $660m claim brought by a Saudi Arabian multinational. Wedlake Bell won Commercial Litigation Team of the year for advising Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga as he challenged the outcome of 2017’s presidential election.
Other major awards saw BT’s Dan Fitz named as our first GC of the Year, while the impressive London team for The Carlyle Group picked up the In-House Team of the Year accolade. On the back of our Powerlist research, Kendra James of the FT was named Rising Star In-House Counsel of the Year. Meanwhile, a very strong 2017 meant Shoosmiths was crowned National/Regional Firm of the Year.
The winners were selected by an external judging panel comprising the following senior general counsel (GCs): Nilema Bhakta-Jones, group legal director of Ascential Group; Kate Cheetham, group general counsel, Lloyds Banking Group; Kirsty Cooper, group GC and company secretary, Aviva; Simon Croxford, GC – group centre legal, Barclays; Maaike de Bie, GC, Royal Mail; Claire Debney, chief of staff and director of legal strategy, Shire; Dan Guildford, GC, FT; Rachel Jacobs, group GC, Springer Nature; Rosemary Martin, group GC and company secretary, Vodafone; Nigel Paterson, GC and company secretary, Dixons Carphone; Nayeem Syed, assistant GC, Thomson Reuters; Ned Staple, GC and company secretary, ZPG; Liz Tanner, director of legal services, SSE; Geoffrey Timms, group GC and company secretary, Legal & General; Clare Wardle, GC and company secretary, Coca-Cola European Partners; as well as Alex Novarese and Mark McAteer from Legal Business.
We would like to thank our headline sponsors NatWest for the Legal Business Awards and RPC for the GC Powerlist, as well as all our other commercial partners, for ensuring a memorable night for all involved.
Our May edition included a full report of the night.