Meet London’s hottest corporate lawyers
Rich, highly-intelligent and savvy about the workings of the world: what’s not to like about City solicitors?
Many also look rather nice as well. Having been kindly invited by Legal Cheek to share with you our favourite corporate law hotties, we, The Sexy Solicitor Specialists, bring you the most desirable solicitors in London…
1. Neel Sachdev, Kirkland & Ellis
With his pin-up looks and flamboyant dress sense, Neel Sachdev looks more like a movie star than a lawyer.
But beneath that luscious brown hair is the brain of a legal super nerd. In hot demand among the world’s top private equity houses, Sachdev, 39, spends his days (and nights and weekends) advising on leveraged buyouts and other complex financing transactions taking place across the globe.
In his rare moments of off-time, the Kirkland & Ellis hotshot — who became one of the firm’s youngest ever partners in 2007 — can be found at fave haunt Shoreditch House, or chilling in his Haggerston Riviera penthouse.
2. Monica Burch, Addleshaw Goddard
There are few more powerful women in the legal profession than Addleshaw Goodard senior partner Monica Burch — one of only a handful of female lawyers at the helm of City of London law firms. And The Sexy Solicitor Specialists just love powerful women!
A champion of flexible working, Burch refuses to follow the City legal profession convention of working crazy hours and admits that she “can’t work without sleep”. The Oxford-educated commercial litigator’s mission is now to help the next generation of female lawyers reach the top in greater numbers than her peers.
Burch says that her biggest regret was not working flexibly until she had her third child. Now, as chairwoman of The Mentoring Foundation — a not-for-profit that runs programmes for future women leaders — this sexy solicitor is striving to change corporate culture for the better.
3. Oliver Hunt, Onside Law
Knowing us The Sexy Solicitor Specialists, knowing you Oliver Hunt, “arguably the leading golf lawyer in Europe”, ah ha!
OK, so his firm profile blurb may be a little Partridge-esque, but try to look beyond that to the incredible blond quiff sported by the sports solicitor, not to mention the faraway look in his eyes — which hints at a breadth of interests that may extend to cricket and even Formula One.
Not convinced? Well, consider Hunt’s background as a corporate lawyer at Nabarro, and the entrepreneurial zeal he showed to set up Onside Law back in 2005 with two City law pals. Certainly, what the “Shrewsbury”-educated (Shrewsbury Technical College?) chap lacks in renaissance man credentials, he makes up for in connections.
4. Sally Wokes, Slaughter and May
Blueblood magic circle outfit Slaughter and May is considered the hardest firm in the City in which to become a partner. But for the tiny percentage who make it the rewards are mind-blowing — S&M top dogs pull in as much as £2 million per year.
Imagine being anointed into this select group aged just 33 having already won the life lottery for looks and intelligence? Welcome to the world of Sally Wokes, Slaughter and May’s latest golden child.
The UCL graduate is an expert in international corporate deals, jetting around the world to advise on multi-billion pound transactions from the firm’s base in Bunhill Row in Moorgate. Not bad for someone who only qualified as a solicitor eight years ago.
5. Matt Holder, CMS Cameron McKenna
Sometimes in life you just need a bit of totty. And CMS Cameron McKenna trainee solicitor Matt Holder is exactly that. Having previously worked at Abercrombie & Fitch — whose legally problematic penchant for hiring the good-looking is well documented — you can be sure that the Lancaster University graduate has the body to match his beautiful face.
What else of Holder? Well, it’s still early days in this lad’s career, but he likes rugby, skiing and going to the gym. And he’s a Scorpio. Plus, being from Bolton, he has a charming northern accent.
6. Robert Bishop, DLA Piper
A girl would feel safe with Robert Bishop on her arm. The head of DLA Piper’s international corporate group exudes a calm, policeman-like authority; his chiselled jaw a symbol of strength and steadfastness in the often cut-throat world of M&A.
But Bishop is no one dimensional superhero figure. Formative years spent at the International School of Brussels have ensured that this sturdy dealmaker is highly sophisticated, as much at home munching on a pain au chocolat as he is crunching through the due diligence on the latest big-money corporate acquisition.
7. Selina Sagayam, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
Corporate finance specialist Selina Sagayam has comfortably navigated the well-worn pathways of the global elite to reach the top of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s City of London office. On the way she has passed through educational establishments as fine as Raffles School in Singapore and St Paul’s Girl’s School in London, before slumming it at King’s College.
But her spell at “Strand Poly” didn’t dent Sagayam’s prospects as she began her career as a barrister, before going into banking and then qualifying as a solicitor. She looks barely a day over 30, but don’t be deceived: Sagayam is an experienced operator, having made partner back in 2004 at her first firm, Simmons & Simmons. 11 years on and she is one of the most respected dealmakers in the City.
8. Louis Dewfall, TLT
So busy has lovely Louis Dewfall been studying law at Bristol University, and then doing his Legal Practice Course and training contract, that he is blissfully unaware that the Hoxton Fin went out of fashion many years ago.
It is, of course, this very innocence that brings Dewfall his charm. Like a good-natured shepherd boy who through some mix-up finds himself in London, the TLT banking & finance associate is so determined to do the best for his new paymasters that new hairstyles can wait!
One day, a few years from now, when Dewfall is a partner and the Hoxton Fin is all the rage again, this lad will be an incredible catch. Hook him while you can.
9. Fiona Woolf, CMS Cameron McKenna
There’s a legendary show biz story about how Hollywood hearthrob Colin Farrell — then 28 — spent two hours begging veteran actor Dame Eileen Atkins for sex. Atkins apparently turned Farrell down because he is 42 years her junior.
We imagine much the same interaction happens each day at CMS Cameron McKenna, where the firm’s stunning partner Dame Fiona Woolf, 67, sets trainees’ pulses racing.
Woolf, who is one of the top energy lawyers in the world, has been widely feted for her legal skills and — following her stint as Lord Mayor of London — public service, but in The Sexy Solicitor Specialists‘ opinion not enough column inches have been devoted to her Bond Girl looks.
10. Michael Sergeant, Holman Fenwick Willan
Gerard Butler, is that you? Holman Fenwick Willan’s London construction partner Michael Sergeant is a dead ringer for the Hollywood star (who legal geeks will of course know is a trained solicitor himself). But enough about Gerard and more about Michael…
Educated at Manchester University in the late 80s, The Sexy Solicitor Specialists imagine a long-haired, indy-loving Sergeant hanging out with The Stone Roses before they found fame, while harbouring a barely-contained longing for the world of construction law.
“One day I’ll pen a book on construction contracts,” he probably told a young Ian Brown, as the latter worked on the lyrics for ‘I wanna be adored’. And sure enough, last year out popped the Sergeant-authored tome Construction Contract Variation, which has already been described as an “an indispensable classic” by the Law Society Gazette.
11. Mariana Lavanchy, White & Case
Schooled in Geneva before heading to London’s King’s College for uni, multi-lingual Mariana Lavanchy is every inch the glamorous international lawyer. To date, the career of the newly-qualified associate at the City office of New York giant White & Case has included six-month stints in Singapore and Paris. Prior to that she did not just one but two masters — at the College of Europe in Brussells and at La Sorbonne in Paris.
But Mariana is by no means just about global glitz. No, the commercial litigation and international arbitration specialist is also hot on her pro bono work, advising in her spare time at Whitechapel Homeless Mission’s legal advice clinic and at the Citizens Advice Bureau.
12. Oliver Lyons, Mayer Brown
With designer stubble that tantalisingly threatens to extend to a full hipster beard, Oliver Lyons is equally at home in the sandwich shops of either Liverpool Street or Shoreditch High Street during his fleeting lunch breaks at global megafirm Mayer Brown.
And what stubble it is! With the bristles perfectly encasing Lyons’ cherub-like lips, above which sits that perfectly symmetrical nose, bordered by those cheeky eyes…
Lyons’ evidently deeply poetic soul was developed at Warwick University, where he studied English and American Literature. A law conversion course followed before he landed his City gig in 2012, but the whispers of Ginsberg, Hemingway and Falconer continue to flicker in that far-off stare.
13. David Carter, Ashurst
The flowery tie and checked shirt in his firm profile photo was a step too far, but Ashurst hunk David Carter makes it into the list because of a willingness to challenge the norm that we find very sexy.
Equally at home in Mayfair’s Le Gavroche (his second favourite restaurant, according to The Lawyer magazine) as Nando’s (his first favourite restaurant), Carter is a breath of fresh air in the often rather snobby and conformist world of corporate law.
Bravely, he has been publicly critical of the legal profession’s fetish for doing crazy hours, describing working all-nighters as “an unhealthy and profoundly foolish practice” when asked by the legal press how long he had worked without sleep.
Yet the Warwick University-educated private equity specialist is no renegade, charming colleagues with his collaborative style and commitment to teamwork. A lengthy spell as the firm’s graduate recruitment partner underlines his commitment to helping create a more civilised next generation of corporate lawyers.
14. Melis Acuner, Skadden
Melis Acuner may work for one of the toughest, deal-driven law firms in the world — insiders report that Skadden radiates with a determination to do whatever it takes for the client — but that hasn’t prevented her from defining herself as a mother as well as a solicitor.
While her touching Twitter profile pic (above) gives us an insight into Acuner the person, Acuner the lawyer is every bit as high-achieving as you would expect of someone pushing on the door of partnership at mighty Skadden. She speaks English, French, Turkish and Spanish, is a qualified lawyer in Paris as well as London and jets all over the world in her role as an international arbitration specialist.
15. Samantha Critchley, Fieldfisher
While Samantha Critchley’s corporate lawyer peers help facilitate the generation of bucket loads of cash for banks and hedge funds, she concentrates on helping people — albeit from the lofty platform of City firm Fieldfisher‘s clinical negligence department.
A specialist in representing claimants, Bristol University-educated Critchley acts in all sorts of heart-rendering cases, where doctors have unfortunately botched their jobs.
What’s more, the gorgeous brunette is big on pro bono, using her free time to help out yet more needy people — in 2009, she won the Legal Advice Clinic’s Supervisor of the Year Award. To relax, this Wonder Woman enjoys abseiling and parachuting.
16. Robert Boughey, K&L Gates
K&L Gates insiders tell The Sexy Solicitor Specialists that Boughey has been quite the talk of the firm since arriving as a trainee in 2011.
An Oxford University history graduate, Boughey did what all Oxford history graduates do when they realise how much historians get paid and enrolled on the Graduate Diploma in Law. A training contract with the London office of Pittsburgh-based K&L ensued and — Boff! Or, should that be Bowf? — out came the spotty-tie-stripy-shirt combos.
In short, Robert is well boughable.
17. Jenny Davidson, Allen & Overy
Jenny Davidson is the sort of alpha girl-next-door type that struggling beta males dream of somehow being scooped up by — and living out their days under their wonderfully talented wings.
With her comfortingly ordinary name and understated beauty, Davidson has a veneer just unthreatening enough to avoid unsettling delicate male egos, but lurking beneath is a global elite performer.
Educated in Holland and France, Davidson has a commitment to law so deep that during her days at the University of Utrecht she worked part-time as a paralegal at Clifford Chance. A brief spell at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs followed upon graduation, before she joined magic circle firm Allen & Overy‘s London office eight years ago. Next stop, partner.
18. Simon Goldring, Berwin Leighton Paisner
If you like it, “put a ring on it,” sung Beyoncé memorably. Even better, put a gold ring on it. With Simon Goldring’s plentiful salary in the private client disputes team of Berwin Leighton Paisner, that level of precious metal may be a distinct possibility for successful suitors of this fellow.
Alternatively, use gorgeous Goldring as a springboard to access his clients — many of whom are based “offshore” and have real money. But unlike Manchester University-educated Simon, who seems such a nice boy, these Oligarch-types might not be marriage material.
19. Caroline Edwards, Travers Smith
Caroline Edwards is one of only a handful of women included in the partnership of elite corporate law boutique Travers Smith — 86% of whose senior bods are men.
The South African litigator — who trained at another male dominated firm, Slaughter and May — has the ever-so-slightly-disappointed air of an aristocrat who has somehow found herself at a frat boy sausage party but remains determined to make the best of it.
Doubtless it is this classiness that has seen Rhodes University-educated Edwards instructed on some of the biggest cases of the last decade, including the administration of Lehman Brothers. She is described by the Legal 500 legal directory as somebody who “knows when to be pragmatic and flexible, and when to fight”.
20. Phillippa Canavan, Squire Patton Boggs
Since graduating with a law degree from the University of Exeter in 2003, Phillippa Canavan has hauled herself to within reach of partnership at one of the most geographically sprawling law firms in the world, Squire Patton Boggs.
That would be no mean feat for a lawyer who worked non-stop. But Canavan, who specialises in employment law, has somehow managed to combine her ascent at SPB with charity cycles in Vietnam, volunteer work at Paddington Law Centre and legal blogging. Meanwhile, she has used the firm’s international network to enjoy stints in Turin and Jersey as she lives the corporate law dream to the fullest.
21. James Fryer, Pinsent Masons
Like Tom Cruise’s character, Brian Flanagan, in hit 80s film Cocktail, James Fryer worked as a barman to pay his way through university, doubtless impressing adoring clientele with his formidable skills and breathtaking looks.
But this is where the paths of fictional Brian and real James diverge. While Flanaghan finished up ditching his Wall Street dream and starting his own bar in Jamaica, SOAS and University of Law-educated Fryer never lost sight of his original goal and eventually secured a training contract at Pinsent Masons.
With such determination, we’re sure he’ll do well in the unforgiving world of City law, and soon rise above all those rich kids who drift into becoming solicitors through family connections. What’s more, Fryer speaks Mandarin, having studied the language at undergraduate level.
22. Boin Cheong, Latham & Watkins
A fluent speaker of Korean, German and English, who has degrees from the universities of Cambridge and Columbia in New York, Boin Cheong has a CV to die for.
Better still, unlike many a geeky university high-achiever, Cheong is really good at functioning in the real world! Having bagged a host of top internships at the likes of Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company, she netted a training contract at international giant Mayer Brown before switching upon qualification to the London office of elite US firm Latham & Watkins last year.
In her new home, Cheong pulls in £98,000 a year, one of the highest newly qualified solicitor salaries in the capital.
23. Tim Taylor QC, King & Wood Mallesons
The dad of Made in Chelsea star Hugo Taylor, Tim Taylor, has, like his son, quite a taste for the limelight. Working Hugo’s connections, the Paul Hollywood look-a-like appeared in a cameo role in the first series of the hit trustafarian reality show, wowing viewers with a glimpse into his lifestyle jetting between London and top Middle Eastern arbitration courts.
But beneath the playful exterior is a tough cookie who has worked himself up to the QC rank — usually reserved for barristers — as a solicitor, which is viewed as quite an achievement within the profession. Having grafted so hard to enable his son to enjoy the life of a playboy, few would surely begrudge Taylor senior a little extra-curricular glitz.
24. Joseph Altendorff, Dentons
This senior associate in Dentons‘ corporate department has quite the hypnotising gaze. Seriously — we can’t look away. It’s like some Jedi mind trick. Perhaps that’s how Altendorff has managed to wangle so many sought after secondments during his relatively short career.
First there was the short-term gig he managed to bag at Goldman Sachs in 2008. Then somehow the Durham graduate secured jollies in Dentons’ offices in Istanbul and Dubai, before in 2011 heading back to Blighty.
Where will those come-to-bed-eyes take Altendorff next?
25. Charlotte Harris, Kingsley Napley
Media law specialist Charlotte Harris is one of the few City lawyers to have reached near-celeb status — in part thanks to her phone-hacking claims work, which she spearheaded while she was a lowly solicitor at a regional firm in Manchester.
Her career has since soared, with a move to London with Mishcon de Reya being followed last year with a switch to leading City shop Kingsley Napley, where she is a partner. Her clients include a host of footballers and MPs.
Still aged just 37, Harris already has three kids, a financier husband and a posh gaffe in Hampstead. Yet we have the sense that this sexy solicitor — who has a well-known penchant for leather miniskirts — is just getting started.