The Lawyer UK 200 Rank25

Stephenson Harwood, formed by Henry Stephenson and William Harwood in 1875, excels in shipping finance and litigation. In the 1980s and 1990s it was a member of the ‘club of nine’ a group of leading City firms whose leaders met informally to share information. However, the firm was asked to leave the club in 1996 after its path diverged from the other eight, which were becoming larger and more corporate, while Stephenson Harwood was focusing more on shipping and property.

Stephenson Harwood, formed by Henry Stephenson and William Harwood in 1875, excels in shipping finance and litigation. In the 1980s and 1990s it was a member of the ‘club of nine’ a group of leading City firms whose leaders met informally to share information. However, the firm was asked to leave the club in 1996 after its path diverged from the other eight, which were becoming larger and more corporate, while Stephenson Harwood was focusing more on shipping and property.

A merger with fellow shipping specialist Sinclair Roche & Temperley in 2002 marked the start of a period of instability, with plenty of lawyer departures. Into this scenario stepped Sunil Gadhia, who became CEO in 2003 and presided over the reinvigoration of the firm. He handed the baton to Sharon White in 2009 before departing for Cleary Gottlieb in 2012. Since then, Stephenson Harwood has progressed on a fairly even keel, with rising revenues and no major drama.