Who won Women and Diversity in Law Awards - and why - Outstanding Women Practitioners

Discover which women practitioners and diversity, equity and inclusion champions most impressed the awards judges
Awards judge Nankunda Katangaza announces an award winner

Awards judge Nankunda Katangaza announces a winner

From transactional advice to litigation expertise, this year’s Women and Diversity in Law Awards recognised the women who are excelling in their practice areas while also serving as role models and champions of diversity, equity and inclusion. Here is a rundown of the winners and those who made the shortlist in the second section of the awards, which took place in London on 21 March and were hosted by prominent diversity campaigner Baroness Floella Benjamin.

Rising Star - In-house Lawyer
Winner: Emma Levin, Mina
Shortlist: Anisha Patel, Objective Media Group (Highly Commended); Beatriz Leiva, Bolt; Çağnur Yumuk, Soyak Energy; Clarissa Campbell, Bolt; Jemma Newton, Reed & Mackay; Leva Fowler, Wheely; Mert Mustecaplioglu, Parkim Group; Tuğçe Ergüden, Soyak Energy

Emma Levin is general counsel at Sheffield-based tech start-up Mina, becoming GC at the age of just 28 after in-house stints at Barclays and Condé Nast. She also works part-time as a legal consultant at UniHomes. Levin is from an ex-mining town in South Yorkshire and was the first person in her family to attend university. At Mina, she implemented a number of new policies to support women, including a pregnancy loss policy, a menopause policy and support for employees caring for loved ones. Levin also updated the company’s flexible working and wellbeing policies. She regularly tutors disadvantaged students through the Access Project, the Social Mobility Foundation and Mentoring Works. “Really great breadth of contribution,” a judge commented.

Commercial Lawyer of the Year
Winner: Angeli Arora, Mishcon de Reya
Shortlist: Liliane Gam, Linklaters; Nicola Kravitz, Memery Crystal; Sage Revell, Brown Rudnick

Angeli Arora’s legal career has taken her around the world, working in Hong Kong, South Africa and the UK – underscoring that women can pursue international careers at different stages of their personal lives (Arora was single when she went to Hong Kong and returned to work after her second child when she went to South Africa). Her talent is in building practices from scratch, setting up Akin Gump’s Hong Kong office before launching Denton’s private equity practice in South Africa. She also worked closely with the Law Society to launch its International Women in Law roundtables in South Africa and is currently developing metrics for law firms to measure gender equality. “An impressive career journey by someone who is also clearly active in the DEI space,” a judge noted.

Disputes Lawyer of the Year - Sponsored by Fountain Court
Winner: Jill Greenfield, Fieldfisher
Shortlist: Emily Brand, Boodle Hatfield (Highly Commended); Eleanor Leedham, Keller Postman; Fiona Hewitt, Neves Solicitors; Fiona Huntriss, Pallas Partners; Jessica Lee, Brown Rudnick; Jo Dimmock, Paul Hastings; Juliet Schalker, Debenhams Ottaway; Sadaf Khan, FDM Solicitors; Suzanne Spears, Paxus

Jill Greenfield is a senior partner and head of the serious injury team at Fieldfisher, which she has built into one of the UK’s leading personal injury practices. She advocates on behalf of victims of abusers, such as the alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and other high-profile individuals. That work has led to her involvement with the film and TV industry to create an Independent Standards Authority, which seeks to help change behaviours and make it easier for victims to report abuse. She also campaigns for victims of terrorism, including those caught up in the incidents at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Finsbury Park Mosque. A judge said: “A champion of the underdog – we need more practitioners like Jill.”

Advocate of the Year
Winner: Charlotte Proudman, Goldsmith Chambers
Shortlist: Elaine Banton, 7BR Chambers; Saima Hanif KC, 3VB; Sarah Pinder, Goldsmith Chambers

Charlotte Proudman is a barrister at Goldsmith Chambers working in family law, specialising in the area of male violence against females in precedent-setting cases involving rape, sexual abuse, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. In her work representing Kate Griffiths MP, she was successful in allowing Ms Griffiths (now Kate Kniveton) to recount the abuse she suffered from her ex-husband and former MP Andrew Griffiths. With victims of domestic abuse sometimes ordered to financially contribute to the perpetrator’s costs of supervised or supported contact, Proudman successfully appealed to the High Court against such an order, which became a guidance case. Proudman also works to improve equality and diversity in the profession by providing mentoring to women and girls to become barristers. “Successful work as an advocate in an area of particular interest to women,” a judge said.

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Dealmaker of the Year
Winner: Mei Lian, Paul Hastings
Shortlist: Anu Balasubramanian, Paul Hastings; Beatriz Del Rey, Herbert Smith Freehills; Eleni Zodiates, Brown Rudnick; Katie McMenamin, Travers Smith; Sage Revell, Brown Rudnick; Shaima Jillood, Boodle Hatfield

Mei Lian is a partner at Paul Hastings and co-chair of its London office, where she sits in the financial restructuring practice. She is one of Europe’s leading transaction lawyers, having worked on most of the region’s largest non-performing loan (NPL) deals over the past year. Notably that included advising doValue in relation to a €6bn securitisation involving Greek NPLs originated by the National Bank of Greece. Lian leads the firm’s senior associate mentoring programme and is also an advisor to the London Women’s Affinity Network, helping women advance in a profession that is traditionally male-dominated. “As a prominent female dealmaker, Mei is a key role model within Paul Hastings’ London office,” said a judge.

In-house Counsel of the Year
Winner: Lisa Ardley-Price, NatWest
Shortlist: Eve-Anadel Coronado, Advanz Pharma; Krishna Jagatiya, Jaguar Land Rover; Sophie McBaiden, HSBC; Suzanne Gilbert, BT

Lisa Ardley-Price is managing legal counsel for commercial and institutional banking at NatWest, providing expertise on trade and supply chain finance. In addition to her legal role, she is also a member and volunteer for a number of the bank’s wellbeing and inclusion networks and provides coaching and mentoring to colleagues. That includes workshops for those from underrepresented groups to help them build confidence and engage in self-promotion. She has helped transform how the legal function operates for the bank’s trade and supply chain finance businesses, providing training and self-service tools to reduce low level legal queries, freeing up her time to focus on more strategic matters. One judge said: “Lisa's innovation speaks for itself – the way she has infused her coaching and volunteering into her work is also aspirational.”

Rising Star - Small-to-Medium-Sized Practice
Winner: Nasreen Shah, Great James Street
Shortlist: Victoria Anderson, Schillings (Highly Commended); Ella Watts, TSR Legal; Ellie Norton, Higgs; Emma Williams, Harbottle & Lewis; Firdous Shenaz Patel, Horwich Cohen Coghlan Solicitors; Lauren Ainsley, Herrington Carmichael; Lauren Cannon, In-House Legal Solutions; Robyn Adams, Debenhams Ottaway; Sonay Erten, Saracens Solicitors

Nasreen Shah is a barrister at Great James Street Chambers and is the founder and director of Her Bar, an initiative launched in 2021 to support and promote gender equality at the Bar. That involves mentoring and providing a mock interview scheme for women to enter the profession. Her Bar has placed more than 115 women of diverse backgrounds with its volunteer mentors, with 20% obtaining pupillage. Shah was previously lead legal advisor for the London Black Women’s project, helping more than 175 women flee domestic violence. In 2021, she presented recommendations on the Domestic Violence Act to parliament, providing the case study for the new law on non-fatal strangulation. One judge enthused: “A rising star demonstrating commitment to helping those around her – Great James Street is lucky to have her involved in their management group.”

Rising Star - Large Law Firm 
Winner: Whitney Joseph, Mayer Brown
Shortlist: Aysha Chouhdary, Irwin Mitchell (Highly Commended); Georgie Twigg, Bird & Bird; (Highly Commended); Anna Burn, Ashurst; Charlotte Rice, Paul Hastings; Charlotte Whight, Herbert Smith Freehills; Chidi Onyeche, Latham & Watkins; Eman Hassan, Fieldfisher; Leo Lou, Clifford Chance; Steph Lartey, White & Case

Whitney Joseph is a senior associate at Mayer Brown, where she works in the firm’s banking and finance practice, advising investment banks and other financial institutions on capital markets deals (notable transactions include a recent cross-border high-yield bond issue from Swedish fuel company Preem). She has also been involved in multiple diversity and inclusion and social mobility events and initiatives for the firm and is a mentor for the Black Aspiring Solicitors Mentoring Scheme. Joseph works with the Law Society as a social mobility ambassador and with the BAME network on inclusion matters, including the importance of having diverse senior leaders and a greater focus on retention of BAME candidates.

Click here to read about the winners in the Oustanding Women Leaders section and here for full details of the winning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion entries

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