June 13, 2024

Fenwick Elliott announces Senior Partner transition

Fenwick Elliott will have a new senior partner when Simon Tolson is succeeded by Karen Gidwani on 1 April 2025. Simon will remain a partner at the firm and continue his extensive work for clients after stepping down as senior partner. 

Karen will have been at Fenwick Elliott for 25 years when the transition takes effect, having joined the firm in 2000 and been a partner since 2006. 

Simon’s tenure has seen him preside over consistent growth at Fenwick Elliott, with headcount more than doubling during his two-plus decades at the helm, driven in part by significant international expansion and the opening of an international hub in Dubai in 2015. 

He will be stepping down as senior partner with Fenwick Elliott active in nearly 50 jurisdictions and ranked among the Best Law Firms 2024 in The Times, a ‘Top Tier’ law firm in The Legal 500, a Chambers and Partners 2024 ‘Top Ranked’ UK law firm, a winner of the FIDIC Contracts Legal Firm of the Year, and a leading UAE construction law firm in Chambers and Partners 2024 Global Guide.

Simon Tolson, Senior Partner at Fenwick Elliott, said:

“I’m very proud of what Fenwick Elliott has achieved during my time as senior partner, and my key involvement in over 20 significant reported cases plus my international arbitrations. In running the business, I have had the vital support of my partners, particularly Tony Francis, Richard Smellie and Neil Elliot who for over 30 years have been very close, and I have been fortunate to work with many brilliant associates, consultants and of course clients. 

“When I joined FE in March 1987, I didn’t plan on staying 37 years, but being part of this firm’s journey continues to energise me to this day. There have been defining periods, like when we branched into major Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) dispute work, a move that supported our expansion into key international markets and accompanied our growing reputation for winning cases and into international arbitration.

“There have been several factors underpinning Fenwick Elliott’s success, including our people, our specialist expertise, and our willingness to evolve – both in our international presence, but also in the diversification of our work in contract negotiation, non-contentious cases, litigation, arbitration, adjudication, and mediation. We have an unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional ROI for our clients, a commitment grounded not only in our legal and industry knowledge, but in a deep understanding of our clients’ business needs."

Simon will be succeeded as senior partner by Karen Gidwani, whose distinguished career at Fenwick Elliott makes her a natural and highly respected successor. Karen has led on numerous high-profile cases, including in the TCC, alongside Tony Francis, a series of landmark disputes over the concept of Fitness for Purpose which went to the Supreme Court and the widely reported and relied upon Energy Works (Hull) termination case. Additionally, Karen is active on high-value, complex international arbitration work, and has longstanding experience in adjudication, a key practice area for Fenwick Elliott.

The Legal 500 describes Karen as “an exceptional and dedicated lawyer” with “a wealth of experience within the offshore energy industry”. 

Karen Gidwani, Partner at Fenwick Elliott, said:

“I am excited and honoured to have been given the opportunity take this role in the firm. Fenwick Elliott enjoys an unrivalled reputation for its specialist knowledge of construction and energy law, and I am looking forward to leading and working with our incredibly talented team of lawyers and staff, and working with our valued clients, to ensure continued growth, continued excellence and the development of that talent.

“I am also looking forward to working more closely with our Head of IT and Innovation to explore the opportunities at the interface of AI and the law, and to continue our important work in the CSR and ESG space. 

“Simon has been an exemplary leader of Fenwick Elliott and will always be a hugely respected and admired member of the firm, the legal profession, and the construction and energy industries. I’m delighted that he will continue as a partner at Fenwick Elliott and know that everyone associated with the firm will benefit from his experience and expertise.”