Sharon Thorne

Sharon Thorne is the chair of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. Prior to leading the board, Sharon was the deputy CEO and managing partner Global & Strategy of Deloitte North West Europe (NWE), and a member of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. She has long been a champion of Deloitte’s ambition to achieve higher representation of women in leadership globally.

As a member of the NWE Executive, Sharon’s main responsibility was to lead the worldwide dimension of Deloitte NWE’s strategy, which recognises the importance of international trade and investment to Deloitte NWE, its clients, and stakeholders. Between 2015 and 2019, Sharon was the executive sponsor for the creation of Deloitte NWE, designed to expand the capacity of Deloitte firms within the region to serve clients and attract talented people.

Prior to her role as Managing Partner Global & Strategy, Sharon was a Deloitte UK audit partner for 20 years, and has more than 30 years of experience auditing and advising clients across a broad range of sectors. This includes extensive experience serving as lead audit partner for FTSE-listed clients, coordinating services around the globe, and an outstanding record of delivering service with quality and distinction.

In addition to delivering audit services, Sharon has significant advisory experience, including two secondments to Deloitte UK’s financial advisory business and helping her clients with various mergers & acquisitions activities. Earlier in her career, Sharon spent a year in industry as the finance director of a subsidiary of a listed company.

In addition to a number of executive roles, including Deloitte UK managing partner Talent and Deloitte UK managing partner Regional Markets, Sharon has spent more than three decades on boards, including as chair. This includes nine years on the Deloitte Global Board of Directors and six years on the Deloitte UK Board of Directors.

Sharon’s other board experience includes six years on the Confederation of British Industry Board of Directors and four years as a Trustee for Prostate Cancer UK. She is a current member of the A4S Advisory Council, the Social Progress Imperative Board of Directors, and the Stewardship Board of the World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society.

Sharon graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Economics, and Politics; and she is a fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. She lives in the UK with her husband John and their two dogs, has three grown-up stepdaughters, and enjoys watching Manchester United and playing golf.

Ian Reid

Ian Reid specialises in construction law and deals with both non-contentious and contentious matters. Ian trained as architect before becoming a lawyer. He has a master’s degree in construction law and arbitration.

Ian drafts and negotiates all types of construction contracts and handles construction disputes in all forums.

Ian has worked around the world on a wide variety of construction projects including major urban regeneration schemes in London’s Docklands, city centre office blocks, luxury residential schemes, rail infrastructure projects, one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas projects, mining projects in the Australian outback, north sea oil rigs and resort developments in the South Pacific.

Ian is an expert on construction law and has organised and chaired numerous conferences on the topic both in the UK and Australia.

Ian has worked for leading developers, property companies, energy companies, mining companies, railway operators, local governments, leading retailers and hoteliers, banks and institutional investors and middle eastern royal families.

Firm Overview:

We are an international law firm with over 150 partners and more than 900 people located across the UK, Middle East and Asia. During our long history, we have held fast to the values and characteristics – such as service, quality, integrity and innovation – that have made us not only a leading law firm, but an inclusive and exciting place to work and establish a career. Some 240 years on, these attributes remain solidly embedded in our culture and our ways of working.

Our clients rely on us for our responsive and commercial advice and every day we strive to provide the best possible service, legal expertise and support that we can, building on our firm foundations. In short, we constantly aim to do what we do even better.

Adrian Ashton

After reading business in Cambridge, Adrian Ashton worked with one of the top 100 PR consultancies in the UK before taking on various management roles within a wide variety of social enterprises, community organisations and more ‘traditional’ enterprise support bodies.

These experiences enabled Adrian to ‘turn around’ an ailing specialist social enterprise support agency into a nationally recognised body and gained Adrian recognition as an authority on social enterprises from local, regional and national organisations including the DTI and Bank of England.

Adrian has used this position, along with his knowledge of the changing environment and policy context in which social enterprises operate, to deliver support to local groups and national projects to high acclaim. This appreciation has been not only from the direct individuals and communities Adrian’s work has impacted upon, but others, including support agencies and international governments. It has also led to Adrian being invited to be an occasional writer for national and regional publications.


  • Level 6 advanced diploma in business advice
  • Level 5 business coach and mentor
  • SFEDI certificated (including additional social enterprise standards)
  • ILM certificated trainer

Professional Memberships:

  • UK Society of Co-operative Studies
  • Co-operativesUK
  • The Plunkett Foundation
  • Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Fellow of TheRSA
  • Voluntary Sector Studies Network
  • Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise & Entrepreneurship
  • Organisation for Responsible Business
  • Locality
  • Social Firms England

Michael Davison

Michael Davison is head of the firm’s Litigation, Arbitration and Employment Practice Group. For close to 30 years, he has been helping clients avoid disputes. He is currently working from the London office as an arbitration lawyer, handling the most complex international cases. When settlement isn’t possible, and cases need to be tried, he takes clients’ matters all the way. Michael has tried cases under the rules of all 10 major arbitration centres –in Latin America, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Before relocating to London, Michael worked in the firm’s Paris office for six years, where he qualified as a French avocat. He is also a Solicitor Advocate and trained mediator.

Michael acts regularly in arbitrations for clients in the automotive, aerospace, defense, energy, and telecom industries. He has a particular interest in energy and commodities law. Michael sits as an arbitrator, acts as a mediator, and lectures on arbitration topics.

Described by The Legal 500 as “undoubtedly one of the leading practitioners in Europe”, and by Chambers UK as “absolutely brilliant”, Michael is frequently invited to speak at conferences on arbitration issues.

Firm Overview:

London has a reputation as an important center for financial services, corporate transactions, and disputes. And so do we.

Our London office is a critical part of our global business. We are the firm’s single largest office and we act for the world’s largest corporations and financial institutions. We understand the city, we know the regulators, and we are accomplished at working in highly regulated sectors, such as financial services, energy, and life sciences.

We make deals happen and we test the law. Our work on market-leading complex transactions regularly places us in the top M&A adviser league tables. And our strategic advice in high-profile disputes has clarified English law and set precedents for future cases.

A huge proportion of our work in London is multijurisdictional and we do it seamlessly.

We also focus on efficiency, leading the way in legal project management, legal process outsourcing, and our use of technology. Our Birmingham office reflects our commitment to broaden our offering and provide innovative and cost-effective solutions for the delivery of legal services.

The same goes for our pro bono clients. From advising on significant pro bono matters, such as landmark war pension rulings, to participating in community work and charitable fundraising, we make a difference.

Steve Barnett

Steve Barnett is a partner in the corporate team at Shoosmiths specialising in advising companies and investors on venture and growth capital investments, mergers and acquisitions and other corporate transactions, mainly in the technology sector.

Prior to joining Shoosmiths in March 2017 Steve was a member of the Technology Companies Group in the London office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he regularly completed 20 – 30 investment and other transactions per annum.

Examples include:

  • Acting for a money transfer service provider on its series A and series B investment rounds which raised around $140m in aggregate.
  • Acting for a machine learning company on its significant series A investment round.
  • Acting for a company in the online advertising sector on its series seed and series A investment rounds.
  • Acting for a US-headquartered fintech impact investor on various investment rounds.
  • Acting for a UK-focussed institutional seed investor on various investment rounds.
  • Acting on numerous angel investment rounds.
  • Acting for a cloud services provider on its sale to private equity.

Firm Overview:

There’s no secret to our growth over recent years to become a £137m+ turnover firm. Clients, whether individuals or organisations, love working with Shoosmiths people because of the way we work and the results we consistently deliver for them.

You don’t have to take our word for it, many of our clients are happy to talk on our behalf – we’ve never been ones for banging our own drum.

Our commercial client list speaks volumes for the quality of our lawyers and the experience they provide; from Mercedes-Benz, Octopus Ventures and Travelodge to property developers and some of the UK’s largest banks, we work with a growing number of the FTSE 250 and some of the world’s most exciting and ambitious growth businesses.

We work to a simple formula: a can do ethos, values that are much more than words on paper, and the agility to find the best way for each individual client – whether that’s ways of working, pricing structures or just innovative ideas that make a real commercial difference.

Evidencing independent recognition of our national teams’ legal expertise, Shoosmiths is currently ranked 6th by number of rankings in any tier across all work streams nationally – by the Legal 500 Directory UK 2020.

“For me it’s all about living up to Shoosmiths’ values and how we treat people: both our own people and our clients. Having diversity at the forefront of the agenda is important because it is absolutely the right thing to do for our values and commercially the only thing to do.” ~ Peter Duff, Chairman

The Shoosmiths Client Experience:

To find out more about the way we work, how we’re constantly listening to our clients and acting on that feedback through our innovative account management structure visit the Shoosmiths client experience.

Our Responsibility:

We are committed to corporate responsibility; it forms part of our business plan, and in turn shapes our strategic goals. We pride ourselves on not being overly hierarchical and pretentious; we want Shoosmiths to be a place where you can be yourself and do your best work – learn more about our approach to diversity & inclusion.

Polly Sweeney

Polly Sweeney is a Partner in the Public Law and Human Rights Department at Irwin Mitchell and heads up our national Education Law team. Polly specialises in education law, community care and healthcare (including medical treatment) and Court of Protection. Polly has a particular interest in cases involving the rights of children and young people with disabilities. Polly’s education law practice includes acting for parents in appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and judicial reviews on a range of public law issues such as school closure, transport, failure to provide education and wider policy challenges. Polly also advises schools and colleges in relation to a broad range of legal issues including duties under the Equality Act, admissions and exclusions, funding and governance and challenges against local authorities’ decision-making. In the Court of Protection, Polly is experienced in representing individuals who lack capacity where there are disputes about best interests, often on instruction of the Official Solicitor or an independent mental capacity advocate (“IMCA”). Polly has acted in a number of reported cases in relation to deprivation of liberty and breaches of human rights including cases which involve cross border issues with other legal jurisdictions such as Scotland. On 1 September 2019, Polly was appointed as co-chair of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Disability Committee which plays a central role in reviewing and promoting improvements in law, practice and procedure affecting disabled people, including those who have mental health needs.

Polly is a contributing author to the leading Legal Action Group publication “Disabled Children: A legal Handbook” (2nd and 3rd editions) writing both the remedies and education law chapters. Polly was named Solicitor of the Year at the Bristol Law Society Awards in 2014 and was a shortlisted finalist at the National Law Society Excellence Awards in 2015. Polly was also named Assistant/Associate Solicitor of the Year in the Birmingham Law Society Awards in 2011 and was a shortlisted finalist at the 2009 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.

About Our Bristol Office:

We have been in Bristol since 2010 and now employ over 40 people at our busy city centre office on Tower Hill. Our solicitors in Bristol offer a full legal service to both individual and business clients, with a reputation for the quality of our personal injury and family law work. Highly-praised by the two major guides to UK lawyers (Chambers and Partners and Legal 500), our family law team are specialists in:

  • Complex divorce settlements
  • Civil partnership dissolutions
  • Pre nuptial agreements

Our Bristol personal injury solicitors are headed by our Regional Managing Partner, Julie Lewis. We have expertise in cases involving:

  • Serious injury
  • Medical negligence
  • Asbestos related compensation claims


As part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact, all of our offices are accessible for cyclists and have bike lockers or racks which we welcome visitors to use. Please contact us if you’re arriving by bike and need any help.

Irwin Mitchell In The Community:

Our charity of the year for 2019 is Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS). They’re a specialist support service for anyone in the Bristol, Bath, Somerset and Gloucester areas who has experienced any form of sexual violence in their lives. They offer counselling, email support, a helpline for men and boys as well as for women and girls, and support for families of survivors too. Their website is full of resources and information on the services they offer, should you need to use them. However, our charity work extends far beyond this and we raise funds for a number of local and national causes, including Brainwave, Bibic, Designability (formerly BIME), Children’s Hospice South West, Scope, Cerebral Palsy Plus and Contact a Family.