Duo quit as Stephenson Harwood names new CEO

Stephenson Harwood names new CEO” />Stephenson Harwood litigator Sunil Gadhia has been elected as the firm’s new chief executive, replacing John Pike in the new year.

His appointment comes in the wake of continuing partner departures and a review of the firm’s partnership deed. John Higham QC is quitting to join the London office of White & Case as a partner, while Yvonne Percival, the lead partner in Stephenson Harwood’s China practice, will be joining Eversheds’ Shanghai office. At least 12 partners have now left Stephenson Harwood since the firm’s merger with Sinclair Roche & Temperley in May 2002.

Pike intends returning to full-time fee-earning at the firm after almost eight years as chief executive. He was first elected for five years in 1996 and re-elected for three years in 2001.

Gadhia will share some of the responsibilities of the chief executive post with current director of finance and administration John Ruse, who is to be promoted to chief operating officer. Gadhia will continue fee-earning part time in the firm’s commercial litigation department.

Sunil Gadhia
It is a shame that Stephenson Harwood’s public relations machine denied The Lawyer a chance to speak to Gadhia. Sources have said that he is one of the nicest men you can meet and, although an unusual choice of chief executive, many feel he will handle his new job with courage and wisdom.

Gadhia qualified at Stephenson Harwood in 1990 and was made partner just seven years later. He includes among his litigation practice clients aerospace company the Smith Group, and cases include the Maxwell pensions litigation, 3i Group Plc v Interactive Investor International Plc, and Banco Santander v Banque Paribas. This year he was elected an Advertising Standards Authority member. He is equally known for his pro bono work on behalf of Camden Law Centre and the RCJ advice bureau.