New senior partner Kon commits to international growth
For someone who has been closely involved in many of SJ Berwin’s international office openings, Stephen Kon’s elevation to senior partner – to which he was elected last Thursday – should be a smooth transition.
The competition head is committed to growing the firm’s international reach, with Singapore on the agenda and the Middle East a target for growth, as well as a US merger still central to the strategy.
“I, as is [managing partner] Rob Day, am committed to international growth of the firm,” Kon told The Lawyer. “Dubai is a key centre in international development.
Asia will be key, but it needs a great deal of thought and we need to do it in a sensible way. The obvious complementary jurisdiction would be Singapore, which is something that’s obviously on our radar.”
Kon was one of the key negotiators in the firm’s collapsed merger talks with US firm Proskauer Rose, with another tie-up remaining firmly on the agenda.
“As I emphasised during the campaign a merger with a US firm is something we’re looking at and we’re looking to be nimble about the way we approach it,” Kon
said. “It’s a work in progress and something we’re considering. At this point we’re not proactively looking for a merger partner.
We have a reasonably good understanding of the US market. I’m not – and don’t think Rob is – majoring on a US merger. We haven’t got anyone there looking.”
After Day’s acrimonious election 18 months ago, in which the corporate partner turned round a 16-vote deficit in the first round to beat Perry Yam, Kon said this year’s ballot was “constructive”.
Kon and fellow candidate Hilton Mervis, a litigator, both submitted strategy papers, met practice area teams and fielded questions from the partnership in a session
hosted by real estate partner Bryan Pickup.
None of this was new, except for the fact that the firm used Electoral Reform Society-approval electronic polling for the first time.
“It was an intensive period but a constructive process that showed a great deal of maturity,” Kon said.