Awards preview: partner of the year

On 22 June, 1400 people will crowd into the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane for the most eagerly-awaited event of the year. With only one week to go, The Lawyer brings you a sneak preview of the shortlisted individuals and teams

Sue Ashtiany
Nabarro Nathanson

Nabarro Nathanson’s Sue Ashtiany has had a stunning year. She was appointed to the Channel 4 board as a non-executive director and was also the only lawyer appointed as a lawyer on the Equal Opportunities Commission. Since her appointment as London head of employment in 2001, the size and turnover of Nabarros’ department has tripled.
The Nabarros team is currently responsible for more than 300 Employment Tribunals cases, along with 10 Employment Appeal Tribunal cases, two in the Court of Appeal. Last year Ashtiany successfully defended key client HSBC against 145 claims over incentive payments, and other clients include Marks & Spencer.

Richard Bonnar

IT partner Richard Bonnar is in the midst of a two-year golden streak that has transformed DLA’s technology, media and telecoms practice into one of the best around. Bonnar targeted the public sector early and has reaped the rewards. He is responsible for a team that brought in fees of around £10m last year. Bonnar is advising the Government (along with Allen & Overy) on the world’s largest civil IT project, the National Programme for IT in the NHS, and has continued to land project after project since. He helped DLA win a position as the Office of Government Commerce’s principal adviser as well as roles on IT projects with the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mike Francies
Weil Gotshal & Manges

More than any other UK managing partner of a US law firm, Mike Francies of Weil Gotshal & Manges has really cracked the UK market. Francies has personally made Weil Gotshal’s London office a recognised force in the UK and on the European domestic scene, snatching prime roles in big public deals such as the Hollinger auction and the Yell initial public offering, thanks to his strong relationship with private equity houses such as Apax and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst. Also, Francies, one of the few UK managing partners to get a seat on the board in US firms, seems to have done it all by sheer force of personality and hard work. Not only that, but nobody in the City has a bad word to say about the man – a rare thing indeed.

Steve Hughes
Bevan Ashford

The past year has been another blinder for Bevan Ashford’s leading PPP/PFI partner, during which he has continued to advise key client Partnerships for Health on NHS Lift, the PFI scheme for health infrastructure. Although he would never admit it, Hughes has played a central role in building one of the UK’s leading regional PFI practices. Under his leadership, Bevan Ashford has blazed a trail, advising on the creation of PFI structures in the health and, latterly, the education sectors. The firm has played a central role advising Partnerships for Health and the Department of Education on NHS Lift and Building Schools for the Future.

Andrew Ivison
CMS Cameron McKenna

Andrew Ivison heads Camerons’ transactional banking team. His practice covers a wide range of financial transactions, from structured finance to capital markets and bond issues. Last year was a busy one: Ivison led the Camerons team advising Metronet on the London Underground public-private partnership, worth £17bn. In addition, along with construction and projects partner Jonathan Beckitt, Ivison is working on the Department of Transport’s Crossrail project. He also advised a number of banks on a £600m bond refinancing of a credit facility for the Airline Group’s acquisition of the Government’s 46 per cent interest in National Air Traffic Services.

Graham White

When Graham White joined Linklaters in autumn 2001, the magic circle firm barely knew private equity from private client. Prescient as ever, head of corporate David Cheyne saw that the firm needed outside expertise to really crack a sector which has become one of the most important sources of European M&A work. White played the long game, initially concentrating on mid-market clients such as Graphite Capital and HG Capital, but more recently closing deals for the likes of CVC, Candover and Apax. Today, few lawyers would deny that Linklaters has a credible private equity practice, and many of the firm’s rivals must wish they had snapped up White first.