Who won Women and Diversity in Law Awards - and why - Outstanding Women Leaders
Discover which women leaders in a highly competitive field of finalists most impressed the awards judges
The Women and Diversity in Law Awards underscored the exceptional calibre of women leadership talent across the legal profession. Some 400 finalists, awards’ judges and other representatives of the UK legal profession attended the ceremony in London on 21 March. It was hosted by prominent diversity campaigner Baroness Floella Benjamin, who made her name as a presenter of BBC children’s programme Play School making her one of the first black television presenters in the UK.
Here is a rundown of the winners and those who made the shortlist in the Outstanding Women Leaders section.
Winner: I. Stephanie Boyce
Having grown up in a single-parent household on a council estate in Aylesbury, I. Stephanie Boyce gained a law degree at London Guildhall University and has since built a stellar career that was crowned by serving as the Law Society’s first black president between March 2021 and October last year. She said it took her four attempts to become president – going from being told she would never make it as a solicitor to leading one of the world’s largest bodies of lawyers. Earlier this year, she was appointed as a strategic advisor at Linklaters. She said: “I am deeply humbled to be the recipient of this Lifetime Achievement Award to be recognised for the contribution we have made and I say we because this has been a shared endeavour, that we are making to advancing diversity, equality, equity and inclusion within the legal profession and beyond. We are breaking down barriers, opening doors to ensure that our profession is more diverse and inclusive than the one we entered. That no one is unfairly excluded from our profession because of their race, age, gender, disability, sexuality, religion or background. That the determinants to success and how far you can go are your ability, skills and aptitude."
Click here to read about the winners in the Outstanding Women Practitioners section of the awards
Returner of the Year
Winner: Tasnim Khalid, Private Client Solicitors
Shortlist: Bronwen Jones, Goldsmith Chambers; Claire Glasgow, Fieldfisher; Hannah Williams, M&M Solicitors; Kate Green, Edmondson Hall Solicitors; Kelly Knight, Reed Smith; Laura Smith, Travers Smith; Naomi Pryde, DLA Piper; Rhian Gray, Higgs; Stephanie Creasey, Taylor Rose
Tasnim Khalid left her previous job to found Private Client Solicitors in 2021, all while nine months pregnant. The firm has gone on to become one of the leading private client firms in the North West of England, building a team of more than 20 staff who provide specialist legal advice to high net worth individuals, including high-profile sports stars and media personalities. As managing partner, she invests heavily in developing junior lawyers. She also seeks to give back to the community that supported her in growing the business while caring for her new baby. She hopes her story will inspire other female business owners and female-led businesses to strive for change. One judge enthused: “Tasnim is a truly outstanding woman leader. Apart from her family demands, setting up a new and successful business at such a time is an act of bravery in itself and she deserves credit here.”
Winner: Bunmi Jenfa, The Fashion Law Edit
Shortlist: Alix Carpenter, Travers Smith; Aparnaa Balamurali, Reed & Mackay; Euridisa Tjegulla, International Arbitration Centre; Francesca Cann, Edmondson Hall Solicitors; Rebecca Jordan, FDM Solicitors; Sandra Spooner, Herbert Smith Freehills; Sarah Ezzeddine, Lewis Silkin
Bunmi Jenfa founded The Fashion Law Edit in 2016 to raise awareness of fashion law issues to practitioners in the legal and fashion industries, in part because there was a lack of UK-centric resources available. It has since developed into a full-service consultancy (now rebranded as The Law of F.E). She launched a Women in Fashion Law webinar in 2021 and runs other panel events including ‘Legally Influenced 101’. Jenfa also leads a group mentoring programme with second-year law students at the University of Westminster and this year is partnering with a legal consultancy to provide legal workshops for law students and those in the creative industries. “Bunmi demonstrates great initiative, concrete contributions to the sector and an impressive outreach,” a judge noted.
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Unsung Hero in a Leadership Role
Winner: Lucy Burrows, 3 Verulam Buildings
Shortlist: Alison Crosland, Keating Chambers; Karen Richardson, Ashurst; Kat Matthews, Consilio; Linda Penfold, Pallas Partners; Lucy Barbet, 11KBW; Silvia Van den Bruel, Hausfeld; Vicki Jones, Johnson Astills
Lucy Burrows is deputy senior practice manager at 3 Verulam Buildings, where she is responsible for the team managing the practices of 32 silks. She is chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) Equality and Diversity Committee and regularly speaks on issues such as fair work allocation, mental health and supporting those returning to the Bar following periods of leave (via her involvement with the Middle Temple Talent Retention Scheme). Burrows runs the IBC’s mentoring scheme and also sits on the Bar Council’s Wellbeing at the Bar working group. Having taken a career break herself to raise her family, she understands the unique challenges and obstacles that members face when returning to the Bar. “As one of the very few senior female clerks, she is also a role model and seeks to make improvements for those working at the Bar,” one judge said.
Innovator of the Year
Winner: Catherine Goodman, Paul Hastings
Shortlist: Claire Blakemore, Withers; Eleanor Lightbody, Luminance; Steph Barrett, Herbert Smith Freehills; Katherine Mulhern, Restitution; Sian Ashton, TLT; Sophie Condie, Shieldpay; Lynn MacKay, Herbert Smith Freehills; Jessica Hamilton, Therme Group; Miranda Perkins, WilmerHale
Catherine Goodman is a corporate lawyer working in Paul Hastings’ practice innovation and legal solutions team, where she runs global innovation projects for all practice groups and helps optimise legal processes using technology. She also oversees the firm’s legaltech education programme, providing teaching sessions and workshops. Goodman is helping to transform Paul Hastings’ culture by encouraging digital upskilling, empowering lawyers to share innovative ideas and normalising the use of technology to get legal work done. She also collaborates with clients on process automation. “Excellent demonstration of not only leadership but also sharing knowledge on a wider basis and empowering younger lawyers by educating them on legaltech,” a judge said.
General Counsel of the Year
Winner: Alexandra Thrower, Reed & Mackay
Shortlist: Anna Crosse, Vorboss; Harpreet Thandi, Ferrero UK; SunHee Park, Adsum Technologies; Vanya Bromfield, John Crane
Alexandra Thrower has worked in-house for more than two decades and puts diversity at the heart of what she does, having recruited a legal team which is 80% female and 80% racially diverse. She also promotes a mentoring programme for junior staff across the business and mentors a single mother who is seeking to pursue a law career. In addition, Thrower works closely with The Scar Free Foundation, which funds and promotes medical research into healing scars. And she also provides pro bono advice to Ludo Maternity, which supports women to remain in the workplace after having children. As a mother, Thrower says her motivation is to show her daughter and son how you can contribute to a better world by going the extra mile both in and outside of work. “Alexandra is undoubtedly a leader and someone who practices what she preaches,” one judge noted.
Law Firm Leader of the Year - Small-to-Medium Sized Practice
Winner: Lauren Cannon, In-House Legal Solutions
Shortlist: Catherine Bedford, Harbottle & Lewis; Florence Brocklesby, Bellevue Law; Natalie Sutherland, Burgess Mee Family Law; Natasha Harrison, Pallas Partners; Pearl Moses, Setfords; Polly Blenkin, Milberg London; Rakeebah Rahim, Ronald Fletcher Baker; Sarah Lazarides, Harbottle & Lewis; Tasnim Khalid, Private Client Solicitors
Lauren Cannon is co-founder of Liverpool-based legal services business In-House Legal Solutions, which provides legal outsourcing to global financial institutions. She seeks to promote gender equality through a business model that supports talented female lawyers who want more flexibility. She also seeks to drive diversity, inclusion and social mobility in the industry, launching ‘Leg Up to Law’ – a scheme that provides workshops in Merseyside schools for students of different backgrounds looking to pursue a career in law – while partnering with the QPOCProject to support queer people of colour in the legal profession. “Lauren has set up a great and inclusive business. She is addressing need in the community in an underserved DEI area,” a judge said.
Law Firm Leader of the Year - Large Law Firm
Winner: Tamara Box, Reed Smith
Shortlist: Nadine Goldfoot, Fragomen (Highly Commended); Carolyn Aldous, Allen & Overy; Fiona Adams, Greenberg Traurig; Kathleen Russ, Travers Smith; Kristina Oliver, Keystone Law; Libby Jackson, Herbert Smith Freehills; Linda Woolley, Kingsley Napley; Philippa Dempster, Freeths; Suzanne Horne, Paul Hastings
Tamara Box is managing partner of Reed Smith’s Europe and Middle East business and a member of the firm’s senior management team. She is a founding member of the steering committee of the 30% Club, which seeks to increase the number of women on corporate boards. Box is also involved with a number of women’s groups, including the PowerWomen Network, International Women’s Forum and Woman Corporate Partners, among others. Having been a diversity advocate for her entire career, Box’s leadership style is egalitarian and service-orientated, recognising the need for dissenting views and a cognitively diverse team. “A powerhouse, Tamara leads by example and is truly one to deserve recognition,” a judge said.
Woman of the Year - Sponsored by RPC
Winner: Natalie Sutherland, Burgess Mee Family Law
Shortlist: Jane Burton, Disabled Solicitors Network (Highly Commended); Sophie Pender, Herbert Smith Freehills (Highly Commended); Amanda J. Lee, Costigan King; Ayse Yazir Acii, Bench Walk Advisors; Hannah Beko, Legal Studio Solicitors; Karen Holden, A City Law Firm; Sara Carnegie, International Bar Association; Suzanne White, Leigh Day; Teresa Owusu-Adjei, PwC
Natalie Sutherland leads Burgess Mee Family Law’s modern families department where she specialises in fertility and surrogacy law. She co-founded In/Fertility in the City, an initiative to encourage more open conversations around fertility issues and helping dispel the myth that becoming a mother prevents women from pursuing a law career. As her firm’s first fertility officer, her mission is to drive wholesale culture change across the profession so that women can decide to start their families whenever it is right for them without compromising their career progression. Drawing on her own experiences of a near fatal miscarriage, she supports junior colleagues with a range of fertility issues. “Exceptional personal leadership working on a range of fertility campaigns,” said one judge.
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