SJ Berwin hands senior partner mandate to competition head Kon

SJ Berwin EU and competition head Stephen Kon has won the race to be the firm’s next senior partner, defeating litigation partner Hilton Mervis in a two-man contest.

Stephen Kon
Stephen Kon

Kon will take over on 1 May, replacing Jonathan Blake after the funds partner spent two three-year terms in the role.

Blake decided last month not to stand for a third term, with Kon widely tipped as a likely successor (3 February 2012).

SJ Berwin was originally expecting to announce the result by the end of March, but  the fact that there were only two candidates and no need for a second round of voting meant the result could be announced today (14 March 2012).

Kon, one of the firm’s most senior figures, was the favourite for the role, with Mervis – who also stood unsuccessfully for managing partner in 2010 – seen as an underdog (16 February 2012).

He surprised the market last year by quitting SJ Berwin to join Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy but was persuaded to stay on (14 July 2011).

Kon has been elected for a three-year term, with the partnership agreement requiring another poll every three years. There is no limit to the number of terms a senior partner can serve.

It follows corporate partner Rob Day’s election as managing partner in 2010 following a three-way contest (1 November 2010).

Kon follows in the footsteps of Herbert Smith senior partner Jonathan Scott, another competition partner running a top 20 UK firm.

Kon said in a statement: “I’m very proud of this firm and everything we’ve achieved over the last 30 years. Our success is attributable to the quality of the people in our firm and the deep relationships we enjoy with our clients. I’m focused on driving the firm forward to achieve its full potential with energy, enthusiasm and determination.”

Day commented: “[Kon] is a man of great experience, authority, judgment and integrity. I’m really looking forward to working closely with him to continue to develop this great business.”