Stephenson Harwood

The Legal Cheek View

A decent financial year, in which revenue has jumped by 11% to £176 million, has seen Stephenson Harwood award pay rises to trainees and newly qualified solicitors. Bucking the far cat stereotype, the firm’s partners took an 8.5% hit on their earnings this year (to a still rather hefty £708,000 profit per equity partner (PEP)) while rookies got raises (albeit of just 2-4%, leaving trainee to NQ remuneration in the £40,000-£66,000 range).

Before you get too excited, bear in mind that Stephenson Harwood PEP soared by around 50% in the preceding couple of years. Even so, the restraint shown this year is emblematic of a prudence that has seen the firm through nearly 150 years of very profitable existence since it was founded as Harwood & Stephenson in 1875. No one seems quite sure when or why the order of the names was swapped around, by the way.

Stephenson Harwood specialises in litigation, mid-tier corporate work and shipping, and has a string of Asian offices with unusually deep roots. They date back to co-founder William Harwood’s time in Hong Kong, where he built close ties with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (which would later become HSBC). Harwood would surely be delighted to know that around half of the firm’s annual intake of 18 trainees each year spend time on secondment in locations including Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul.

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Key Info

Training contracts 18
Latest trainee retention rate 90%
Offices 9
Countries 5
Minimum A-level requirement ABB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


Average arrival time 9:01am
Average leave time 7:24pm
Annual target hours 1,550
Annual leave 25 days


First year trainee salary £40,000
Second year trainee salary £44,000
Newly qualified salary £66,000
Profit per equity partner £708,000
GDL grant £6,000
LPC grant £6,000


UK female associates Undisclosed
UK female partners Undisclosed
UK BME associates Undisclosed
UK BME partners Undisclosed