Stewarts has been profiled by the Lawyer Magazine following four of our cases being listed in the Top 20 cases of the year 2020.

The article, titled “The biggest boutique in town: the rise and rise of Stewarts”, comes as we are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

The article recognises the firm’s focused leadership, which has led to the creation of a litigation “powerhouse”. It mentions the growth of the firm in terms of size, headcount and the diversification of litigation services offered to clients, and says: “The 30-year-old firm is now ready to think big.”

The article states:

“Undoubtedly, Stewarts has become the boutique to beat on English soil, as demonstrated by its inclusion in four of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2020.”

John Cahill’s leadership since he took the helm in 2000, is praised:

“This prosperous business model has been the baby of its managing partner, John Cahill… who has turned Stewarts into a glass-ceiling-smasher…”

John is described as “… an incredibly honest man – a man of real integrity… He is a rare combination in that he’s a very astute lawyer and litigator but also a very good businessman. Those two don’t always go hand in hand.”

The article highlights the key role Stuart Dench has played in building the firm’s commercial practice since making the switch from personal injury and aviation lawyer to become Head of Business Development and Marketing in 2000. The article states:

“Where most City lawyers would recoil from such a switch, Dench has made the role his own. By travelling far and wide to beat the boutique’s drum, Dench has brought in cases of real significance for the firm. His ability to recognise cases where the firm can add value has been exemplified by his construction of the RBS issue dispute and Mastercard litigation.”

The Lawyer also mentions our expanding practice areas and investment in people power, noting that we now have 15 different practice areas, a number that has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

“This emergence of new specialisms has also driven the firm’s recent hiring strategy. Examples include Richard Kovalevsky QC, who joined from 2 Bedford Row in June 2018 to help launch the financial crime department, and Ryan Dunleavy, who is now head of media disputes following his arrival from DMG Media last January. Firepower has also been added in the tax department, where there has been considerable attention paid over the past few years. James Le Gallais defected from Peters & Peters in April 2019, joining Stewarts at the same time as Sarah Stenton and Lisa Vanderheide, who were both brought in as tax directors. Last year also saw two tax associates promoted to partner, with Lee Ellis and Darren Kidd making the step up.”

The article highlights recent organic growth at the firm with the firm’s biggest ever promotions round in 2019:

“The commercial sector accounted for more than half of the seven promotions, with associates also making the step up in tax (two), aviation and clinical negligence.

“In 2018, five were promoted to partner, which was also considerably more than the two in 2017 and one in 2016. Alongside the aforementioned laterals, these recent promotions have boosted the firm’s partner tally to 68 – a sizeable increase on the 25 partners employed 10 years ago. In total, Stewarts has 375 staff members, of which 72 are based in the Leeds office and around 75 are paralegals.”

Our fast-growing Tax Litigation and Investigations team is mentioned in the article, with the Lawyer saying:

“This tax department, established following David Pickstone’s arrival in 2014, is a prime example of the firm’s attempt to branch out, with the team now employing five partners, two legal directors, four associates and still hiring. This hefty investment has already paid dividends, as Stewarts grabbed the mandate on three huge cases that will run well into 2021. All of these are in relation to professional negligence claims concerning film finance partnerships, with a couple of notable QCs and an independent financial adviser in the firing line.”

Our Commercial Litigation department is described as “a practice area to envy across the City”. The Lawyer says:

“Meanwhile, away from the tailored world of tax, commercial matters still hold significant sway at Stewarts, as proven by the four relevant cases listed in our Top 20 for 2020, revealed this week. Heavy-hitters such as Sean Upson, Lucy Ward and Ian Gatt QC are all on call for upcoming trials in 2020, going up against firms such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dechert and Linklaters.”

It continues:

“Yet lucrative windfalls earned via mammoth cases continue to be Stewarts’ crowning glory, such as the RBS rights issue dispute that led to an estimated £800m settlement back in 2016. Clive Zietman was the brains behind that triumph, and has since turned his conflict-free commercial team into a fearless and fluid entity ready to sue any bank.”

The article also focuses on the Divorce and Family team and its leadership by Stephen Foster, who arrived at the firm in 2005. The article states:

“Foster’s department has emerged as one of the firm’s leading lights over the past 10 years…. It boasts partners such as Helen Ward and Emma Hatley….”. The article also commends the team’s stellar client base.

Our Leeds office is also mentioned in the article:

“The firm’s Yorkshire hub was set up in 2003 by Daniel Herman, who had previously spent three years in London following his 2000 arrival at the firm. The aim of the office was, and still is, to attract clients in the north, while it now operates in personal injury, divorce, commercial issues and competition. ‘Northshoring’ is a word often bandied around when discussing City firms with offices north of Birmingham, but Herman is adamant that his Leeds base is not a low-cost centre, or an ‘afterthought’.

“’The work being conducted in Leeds is of the same quality and value as the work coming out of the London office,’ says Herman.”


To read the full article, please click here (subscription required).



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