Elaine Aarons

Partner | London

Client services contact Candice Driver


Elaine is a partner in the employment team specialising in advising senior executives.

With over 25 years' experience acting mainly for large, institutional employers and setting up what became, under her leadership, one of the leading employment law teams in the City, for the last 17 years Elaine has acted mainly for senior executives, partners and entrepreneurs giving employment and partnership law advice and providing them with the advice they need in related areas. Elaine is an acknowledged leader in her field.

Over 95% of her client base is therefore made up of senior individuals and includes: senior executives in FTSE 100 and 250 companies, largely main board directors and members of executive committees; senior bankers - she has acted for 23 Bank Chief Executives (some more than once as they have returned for further advice); principals and senior management in private equity houses, private equity backed firms, hedge funds, law firms, accountancy firms and other financial services boutiques.

In addition to financial services, she has clients in senior management roles in all sectors of the economy - most recently in energy, health, pharmaceuticals, technology, publishing, management consultancy and real estate. She also has a particular interest in advising senior academics, having acted for a significant number of Vice-Chancellors of universities.

Listed in Chambers UK and the Legal 500 Hall of Fame which recognises individuals who have received constant praise from their clients for continued excellence, she has been described by the directories as ‘a class act', and 'enormously tough and strong, drawing on a wealth of past experience', 'outstanding in her knowledge, experience and logical problem solving'. Clients commented that 'she comes up with excellent solutions, is responsive at all times and knows when to push and when not to.' She has also been recognised in Spear's ranking of the best employment lawyers for senior executives, wealth managers and family offices.

Elaine is always focused on delivering her client's objectives. She advises on a wide range of issues, across the lifespan of the employment relationship. She therefore advises:
  • Before the executive takes a role: advising on service agreements, sweet equity, carry arrangements and other incentive schemes, LLP agreements, non-executive appointments (including negotiating corporate indemnities)
  • During the relationship: advising on investigations and disciplinary proceedings (particularly in FCA/PRA regulated businesses), bonus claims and discrimination and whistleblowing issues 
  • At the end of the relationship: advising on termination of employment, resignation/removal from partnerships, team moves and restrictive covenants (drafting and enforcement) and career loss claims (including discrimination and whistleblowing). Often involving litigation (or threats of litigation), but just as often resolved without having to even raise the prospect of legal proceedings at all. 
  • She is regularly instructed to lead multi-disciplinary teams and is therefore a natural choice where employment, regulatory and reputation management issues are paramount. She is also used as team leader on matters involving corporate, litigation and wealth planning advice.  Her project management also regularly involves leading and multi-jurisdictional teams. 
Elaine is also involved in a number of organisations that support women in the workplace. Nearly half of Elaine's clients are senior women and she is very active and involved as a champion of diversity. For 10 years she sat on a New York based task force, then called the Hidden Brain Drain. She is a long standing member of the International Women's Forum where having been a member of the UK Board for over 4 years, she has continued to be involved with their Ethical Leadership Committee. She is also the founder of One Loud Voice for Women, a registered charity that focusses on women at all levels in the workplace and she is a member of the Women in Finance Advisory Panel.

Elaine is a long-standing member of the City of London Society and she was the Vice-Chair on the City of London Law Society Employment Sub-Committee from 2007 - present. Elaine was also a founder member of the Employment Lawyers Association, which was set up in 1992 and she sat on its Management Committee for 11 years.
Headshot of Elaine Aarons

Me in a minute

In my career I have had two guiding principles - to do what I love doing and to stay ahead of the curve. Both of these have stood me in very good stead

My move to Withers ten years ago was driven by these principles. I had specialised in acting for employers for 26 years acting mainly for institutional clients. I had been one of the very first lawyers to specialise exclusively in employment law. I was a leading practitioner in my field and had a very strong practice. There was actually no reason to change.However, my move to Withers was strategic - I thought there was a gap in the market for a 'big hitter' that focused almost entirely on senior executives. I thought I could leverage my brand as a blue chip City employment lawyer to create something unique. No one had done it on the scale that I planned to do it.