Meet the Team

Chris Payne


Chris has extensive experience and a strong track record in facilitating partner and team moves, both on a representation and retained search basis, as well as orchestrating lift outs, launching new offices and initiating law firm mergers. He has also recruited General Counsel for a range of energy, technology, banking and financial services corporates, including FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

Chris has been responsible for brokering many high-profile “BigLaw” partner and team moves, covering multiple practice areas and sectors. He has also launched new London, pan-European and UAE offices for several US/International law firms. He is also experienced in spearheading hiring initiatives for businesses that have undergone transformational change and rapid expansion.

Chris has strong relationships with law firms of different shapes and sizes, including leading UK, US and International firms as well as legal boutiques the big 4 and ‘Virtual/New Law’ challenger firms.

Interests: With five children, Chris doesn’t have much time to himself outside work, but when he does he loves everything sports-related and is a keen Brighton & Hove Albion supporter.


  • A core objective of my role as Office Managing Partner of Locke Lord in London is expanding our offering.Partnering with a first rate recruiter is vital to achieving that objective. Chris Payne fits the bill in every respect. He comprehends our strategic goals. My dialogue with him is constant and irrespective of whether or not any candidates are under consideration. Once a suitable candidate is identified and introduced, Chris remains fully engaged throughout the process and works tirelessly and tenaciously to get the hire over the line. His monumental efforts have borne exceptional results for us over the past year alone.Above all, Chris is a really great guy and a pleasure to work with.

    David Grant, London Office Managing Partner, Locke Lord (UK) LLP

  • Chris placed me at my current firm and has since become my go-to partner recruiter when we are looking for candidates. He has fantastic industry knowledge, knows the market inside out and is very responsive and committed.

    EMEA Head of Commercial Disputes Practice, White & Case

  • I very much enjoyed working with Chris, who placed me as a Partner in CMS’s Financial Services & Products team. He has an excellent, in-depth knowledge of the London market and the contacts to match. During our work together, his advice as to which firms to consider, and his knowledge of the key players in my practice were invaluable. I would not hesitate to recommend him.

    Robert Dedman, Partner, CMS

  • Chris and Elliot were both a pleasure to work with. They handled the whole process from start to finish with care, patience, and delicacy, without which I would undoubtedly not have felt able to explore and ultimately seize the opportunity presented.

    Charlie Lightfoot, Global Chair of International Arbitration, Cooley

  • After nearly 24 years at the same firm, I decided it was time to explore options. However, I needed someone I could trust and who would guide me through the process. Chris fulfilled this role in spades. He helped me identify firms that should be approached using his personal knowledge of firms and my description of what was important to me to refine a list. He prepared me for initial and follow-up meetings with firms. He helped me through my business plan, supporting and giving me the faith in myself that can sometimes be missing as a result of a long time at a single firm. He was available morning, noon and night and my ultimate success in securing a role at a new firm that feels the perfect fit is in no small part down to his hard work, support and care. I genuinely believe I could not have done it without him or the wider Deacon team. I would not hesitate to recommend him to my friends especially those, like me, who are looking to make one move in their career.

    Barry Gross, Real Estate Partner, Simmons & Simmons

  • Chris delivered outstanding service as a Partner recruiter, surpassing expectations by thoroughly grasping my requirements and preferences for a cultural and business match. Notably impressive was Chris's authentic and extensive network, enabling him to arrange impactful meetings with all the firms I had targeted. Chris's efficiency in delivery and execution was remarkable, and his communication stood out for its direct, honest, and transparent nature. In summary, Chris demonstrated an exceptional level of professionalism and service and more importantly he was fun with a great sense of humour, and I wholeheartedly recommend him to others.

    Hannah Field, London Head of Disputes, Shoosmiths