Freshfields nearly triples intake of new women partners with 50/50 gender split

Tally of 11 promoted female lawyers, including five out of six in London, welcomed by new leader Georgia Dawson

Georgia Dawson

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has 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.

The 11 women making partner compare to just four who made the grade in 2020, 19% of the cohort of 21.

In March, Freshfields senior partner Georgia Dawson, who this year became first woman ever to lead a Magic Circle firm, spearheaded a new diversity and inclusion action plan, which included the goal that at least 40% of new partners are women, 40% are men and 20% are either men, women or non-binary from 2021 to 2026. 

Freshfields follows fellow Magic Circle rival Linklaters in recording a marked increase in new women partners in 2021 – on 8 April Linklaters promoted 14 women partners, up from eight last year, allowing it to hit its newly raised target to achieve a 40% balance of new partners each year.

All but one of the six London-based Freshfields lawyers making partner are women: Sharon Malhi (antitrust), Laura Whiting (dispute resolution), Holly Insley (people and reward), Lauren Honeyben (global transactions) and Sarah Bond (tax). 

There is also a clean sweep of female appointments in the antitrust, competition and trade team with London’s Malhi being joined by colleagues Jenn Mellott (Washington/Brussels) and Maria Dreher (Vienna/Brussels).

The group is completed by corporate and M&A lawyers Olga Stürmer (Munich) and Andrea Merediz Basham (New York), Madrid-based dispute resolution specialist Natalia Gómez, and TMT specialist Theresa Ehlen, who shares her time between Frankfurt and Düsseldorf.

Aside from London, the promotions are relatively evenly spread across the firm’s network of offices with five in Germany, three in the US, two in Austria, and one apiece in France, Spain, The Netherlands, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo and Singapore.

In terms of practice areas, the largest number of promotions were in the firm’s global transactions and dispute resolution outfits with 11 and 5 new partners apiece. The firm also added partners in tax (2) and people & reward (1) practices alongside the three antitrust, competition and trade lawyers.

“Our new partners bring diverse thinking, backgrounds and experience to our partnership, all critical to helping our clients navigate the ongoing complexities of the legal and business landscape,” Dawson said in a statement. “The promotion of our new partners reflects the firm’s focus on diversity over several years and I look forward to working with each of them as we continue to build our firm for the future.”

Last week, Vodafone unveiled its refreshed global legal advice panel, selecting firms based on a shared commitment to promoting diversity targets and environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practice. 

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