Get to know the finalists for Woman of the Year at the Women and Diversity in Law Awards – part three

Ahead of the Women & Diversity in Law Awards in March, we profile the shortlisted contenders for the prestigious Woman of the Year Award

Clockwise from top left: Danielle Manson, Emma Wright, Laura Brunnen, Leena Birdi

In this third part of our rundown of the shortlisted candidates for the flagship Woman of the Year Award at Global Legal Post’s Women & Diversity in Law Awards, we profile four women in law dedicated to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion across the industry and beyond.

Click here to read the full shortlist for the category. The awards take place in London on 13 March.

Danielle Manson, Matrix Chambers

Danielle Manson is a criminal barrister at Matrix Chambers, with a particular focus on representing children and young people. Having grown up on a council estate, she recognises the challenges of accessing a legal career, acting as a Bar Council Social Mobility Advocate and a trustee of the Kalisher Trust, which aims to diversify the Criminal Bar by assisting applicants from non-traditional backgrounds. For the latter, Manson has supported a number of initiatives, including its annual fundraising theatrical event, as well as launching a legal clothing fair which gives away high-quality court-appropriate attire to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are just starting out in the legal profession. She works with the Judicial Review Mentoring Scheme, which provides opportunities for judges to learn from legal professionals from underrepresented communities, and she also frequently speaks at careers events to encourage marginalised groups about the potential for a law career.

Emma Wright, Harbottle & Lewis

Emma Wright is a partner at Harbottle & Lewis, where she leads its technology, data and digital team. She is a co-founder of the Interparliamentary Forum on Emerging Technologies (IFET), which helps promote regulatory best practice for new tech such as AI and the risks of bias and the potential impact that can have on underrepresented groups. Her other commitments to diversity and inclusion include developing ‘Diverse Founders’, a project to build a more diverse pipeline of founders and start-ups, as well as sitting on the Global Forum of Women 4 Ethical AI, which aims to amplify diverse voices on tech regulation. In addition, she has worked with the UK Digital Poverty Alliance and UN Women on tech, AI and digital poverty issues. And she leads by example: Wright has grown a team at Harbottle & Lewis where the bulk of team members are minority ethnic and female.

Laura Brunnen, March Women

Laura Brunnen is the founder of March Women and corporate law boutique The Legal Strategist. With a career that has taken her from Slaughter and May to Kirkland & Ellis, Fried Frank, King & Wood Mallesons and Reed Smith, Brunnen set up March Women in 2022 as a platform to rebalance the inequity of the M&A ecosystem and help level the playing field for female lawyers, helping them get on more deals, secure more promotions and receive better pay. She has long been an advocate for women representation in the private equity industry, spearheading The 1973 Club – a social network for women working in private equity – as well as speaking on panels and chairing events. As a top female deals lawyer, Brunnen has helped mentor female associates, as well as worked with female counsel and partners to help them develop strategies to build their client base.

Leena Birdi, Birdi & Co Solicitors

Leena Birdi is a corporate lawyer and co-founder of Birdi & Co Solicitors, where she specialises in M&A deals and restructurings. She has grown the Birdi team from two to seven, hiring both young and senior female professionals. Birdi is driven by an ethos of nurturing talent, promoting diversity and empowering young female lawyers, having provided mentoring, networking and training opportunities for young women in law and at her previous firm launching an internal mentoring scheme across two offices. She balances all of this while being a new mother through embracing flexible working arrangements and efficient time management. Aside from growing the firm, her leadership has seen her create an innovative subscription service (‘Synergy’) for in-house counsel; launch a podcast (‘Elevate’) designed to inspire business owners and young lawyers; and complete an IT infrastructure overhaul and extensive rebranding project.

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