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11 May 2021

Linklaters elects first female senior partner in its history

Corporate partner Aedamar Comiskey becomes only the second woman to lead a Magic Circle UK firm

By Ben Edwards

Aedamar Comiskey Image courtesy of Linklaters

Linklaters has elected the global head of its corporate practice, Aedamar Comiskey, as its new senior partner, the firm’s first female senior partner in its almost 200-year history.

London-based Comiskey will start her five-year term at the start of July, replacing Charlie Jacobs, who is leaving the firm to join JPMorgan as co-head of UK investment banking. Comiskey has been at Linklaters for the best part of three decades, becoming partner in 2001. 

She was one of three women candidates shortlisted for the role including London corporate and M&A partner Sarah Wiggins and Milan-based Western Europe managing partner Claudia Parzani.

Linklaters’ former US head, Tom Shropshire, had been considered to be in the running to replace Jacobs before announcing his exit from the firm in February to take up the general counsel role at global drinks giant Diageo

The appointment of Comiskey makes her the second woman to lead a Magic Circle firm after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer named Asia managing partner Georgia Dawson as its next senior partner back in September

Like Dawson, Comiskey effectively becomes the firm's chief executive - unlike at many UK firms, the role of senior partner is an executive one at both Linklaters and Freshfields. In the US, Am Law top 10 firm Sidley Austin and 11th-ranked Gibson Dunn have both recently appointed women leaders.

Jacobs said: “I have known Aedamar for her whole career at Linklaters. I have so much admiration for her client focus, strategic thinking and leadership skills not to mention her energy and passion for our people, culture and communities. I know she will lead the firm with confidence and distinction, and I shall follow with great interest the direction in which she takes the firm during her term.”

In addition to her current role as global head of corporate, Comiskey has also served on the firm’s partnership board and executive committee in recent years.

She said: “I want Linklaters to stand out as the law firm with the best minds in the business from truly diverse backgrounds, contributing different perspectives to solve the complex challenges facing business and society today. And as we launch out of lockdown, our focus will be on fostering drive, ambition and creativity from our high-performing teams across the world, to deliver outstanding results for our world-class clients.”

Last month, Sidley Austin elected litigation and disputes partner Yvette Ostolaza as the next chair of its management committee, making her the first Latina lawyer to be appointed to lead a top ten US law firm.

And in March, Gibson Dunn announced that New York partner Barbara Becker had been elected as its next chair and managing partner to succeed longstanding head Ken Doran on 1 May 2021. 

Last month, Linklaters made up 14 women partners – up from just eight last year – allowing it to hit its newly set target of achieving a 40% gender balance in a 35-strong promotions round. 

Freshfields, meanwhile, easily surpassed its newly set gender diversity target in this year’s partner promotion round with women making up half of the 22-strong tally.

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