Move On Up: Winckworth Sherwood

Slow but steady has been the way for this London-based firm as its clear career structure sees trainees progress through the ranks

While expanding its partnership with laterals and promotions, Winckworth Sherwood has also consolidated headcount by hiring senior solicitors. The career progression is clear at the firm, which is best known for property, education and employment. Once trainees qualify they become solicitors and then senior solicitors, before being made fixed-share, then equity, partners. In terms of partner promotions, these have been fairly evenly split between the equity and fixed-share partner layers.

Equity stock

In 2006 three lawyers were made up to equity partner: Richard Tinham in company commercial; Francesco Ferrari in housing and regeneration; and Robert Banham in institutional property. The following year two were promoted to salaried partners, one being Sam Dighton in the housing and regeneration department and the other Aiden Hargreaves-Smith in the ecclesiastical and educational department.

There were no partner promotions in 2008-09, but Eleanor Kilminster was promoted to construction partner in 2009, while Charlotte Cook and Patricia Umunna became partners in the housing department in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Lateral hires have been a key part of the firm’s growth strategy. Although the firm has promoted three women compared with five men to the partnership since 2006, it hired 25 per cent more female partners in this period, with 12 women and nine men brought in as lateral hires.

While there were three laterals between 2006-07, one in 2007-08, two in 2009 and one in 2010, an impressive nine partners joined the firm in 2010-11 and a further five in 2011-12.

Real estate was a particular focus, with the appointment of Dawsons partner Simon Livesey as a salaried partner in the firm’s institutional property department and Richard Perkins, formerly a real estate partner at Reed Smith, joining the property and licensing department as a salaried partner in 2011. One other standout hire was construction partner Colin Hall from Bird & Bird.

In 2010 the firm raided Dawsons’ employment team and hired employment head Jo Keddie as an equity partner and Susan Kelly as a salaried partner.

Winckworth had a coup in early 2012 when it raided Field Fisher Waterhouse’s (FFW) Manchester office for partners Karen Cooksley and Colette McCormack. Both joined the planning department as salaried partners, with Cooksley appointed department head.

Area quality – and quantity

Lower down the lawyer ladder Winckworth has brought in a number of solicitors to bolster particular areas. In 2009-10, the firm hired Jonathan Jennings from Perrins to boost housing and regeneration.

The department made further gains in 2010-11 when it hired Anna Prizeman as a senior solicitor from Barnes Morley and then Rafe Course as a senior solicitor from Eversheds in 2011-12.
In related practice areas, in 2011-12 Lindsay Garrett arrived from FFW with partners Cooksley and McCormack, and joined the planning department as a senior solicitor.

The same year Richard Wooton and James Riddich followed Livesey and joined from Dawsons. Wooton joined as a senior solicitor in the institutional property department while Riddich became a senior solicitor in property and ­licensing.

The promotions and hires have not been prompted by like-for-like departures. There were four departures in 2006-07, including employment head Christine Jenner and construction head Laurence Sheppard.

There were no departures in 2007-08, but in 2008 crime specialist Edward Saffer left the firm, corporate partner Neil Morgan went in-house, and litigation partners Thekla Fellas and Jennifer Scott-Russell also left.

The firm has 12 trainees and 74 solicitors. It sets out clear salary bands, from newly qualified up to five-years’ PQE. The salary bands go from £45,000 for newly qualified associates and rise to £100,000 for five-year qualifieds and beyond.