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The ‘positive evolution’ of Sparke Helmore

As the firm celebrates its 140th anniversary, the managing partner of Sparke Helmore, appointed last month, shared his priorities for the firm for 2022.

user iconLauren Croft 01 April 2022 Big Law
Andrew White Sparke Helmore
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In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, the new national managing partner at the firm, Andrew White, revealed what excites him most in his new role – and his plans for the firm over the next year.

“Over our 140 years, we have deliberately expanded to become a national law firm with offices around the country because we think that enables us to be where our clients need us and gives an insightful appreciation of our clients’ businesses and industries. I believe you can’t beat having ‘boots on the ground’; a localised approach has helped us expand and tailor our service offerings and live an ethos of continuous improvement,” he said.

“To maintain this, we will be driving an agenda of growth in certain strategic and targeted areas, both from a work type and a geographic perspective. We’re also investing in areas that are important to who we are as a firm and that complement our client relationships, such as ESG and launching our first reconciliation action plan. We’re excited to adapt and evolve our methods of operation to enhance the experience that everyone has with Sparke Helmore.”


Mr White first joined the firm in 2001 and also spent four years as chair of the Sparke Helmore board – which he said enabled him to have a strong appreciation of the firm’s history and culture as well as what its focus should be moving forward.

“We are doing a lot of thinking and planning around agile working, and like many organisations, we’re embedding a flexible ‘when, where, how’ model as BAU, while recognising we need to make it attractive to come into the office at least for some part of the working week. I’ve enjoyed working remotely and flexibly for many years, but I must say that I most enjoy the interaction and collaboration that being in the office brings,” he said.

“Getting the balance right is what I would like to make sure we achieve for everyone in the firm, recognising that everyone’s balance will be different, and it may change a number of times during the course of an individual’s career. We promote flexibility around how teams operate, providing a safe and accountable environment, encouraging those teams to decide what works best for them, while maintaining the proactivity and responsiveness our clients know us for.”

Furthermore, Mr White said he is increasingly focused on diversity, inclusion and wellness initiatives – with support from a number of key players within Sparke Helmore.

“Learning from my experiences in recent years and hearing from others from within the firm and in the profession more generally, I see there are great opportunities to further improve the lives of everyone who works at Sparke Helmore and contribute to the success of our business. Sharon Bennett, our director of people and culture (and now also our COO), joined us in 2018 and over the last four years has been delivering an outstanding wellness program, which has also been instrumental in helping us ride the ups and downs of the last two years,” he added.

“We are committed to improving our agile and flexible working arrangements – which have really evolved over the past few years – whilst guarding against the risks that can come with those arrangements. We need to stay close whilst we are apart. It’s also important we intensify our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We have a great team committed to the positive evolution of our business, including Sharon Bennett, Roland Hassall as our new chair of the board, Gillian Davidson as our diversity and inclusion chair and Jennifer Lanahan as our DEI manager – sitting alongside our six grassroots DEI networks that support the firm’s direction and decision-making in the areas of mental health and disability, culture and identity, flexibility, LGBTIQ+, parents and carers and gender equality. And while there has to be a message from the top, I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to listen, question and learn and do whatever they can to move the dial.”

Furthermore, Mr White said that culture would remain a key priority for the firm moving forward – particularly in the interest of attracting and retaining staff post-pandemic.

“Culture is critical to the happiness of people at work and effectiveness of teams and therefore to the success of organisations. We’ve always had a great culture and a reputation for collegiality, friendliness and openness, and while it’s formed from the way our partners and employees interact with each other, it also shapes the way we interact with our clients and other parties we engage with,” he said.  

“Our great culture has helped us to grapple with the issues thrown up by lockdowns, illness and uncertainties brought about by COVID. We strive to get a deeper understanding of and empathy for people’s circumstances beyond the realms of work, and I think that’s a good thing for the future we want to create. It’s vital we consider the lessons we have learned and that we adapt and are open to making change happen, which makes working for or with Sparke Helmore the best possible experience.”

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