Inspirational Women in Law Awards

The Inspirational Women in Law Awards seek to identify the trailblazers of the profession who are promoting equality in the legal industry.

You can see photographs from last year’s Award ceremony here.

More details will be released soon about how you can nominate yourself or others for the Awards.

The categories of the Awards are:
◘ Under 35 Lawyer of the Year
◘ Barrister of the Year
◘ Solicitor of the Year
◘ In-house Lawyer of the Years
◘ The Champion Award

2019 Winners

Solicitor of the Year: Dr Laura Janes
Laura is Legal Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform. With a doctorate in youth justice, she has expertise in representing children and young people in penal detention.

Laura was the driving force behind ‘Equal to Everything’ the illustrated children’s book about Lady Hale, which is now an Amazon bestseller for children’s books.

When asked what a role model means to her, Laura wrote “kindness often comes with bravery: daring to persevere through adversity when it would be easier to give up, daring to write about things that are personal and daring to continue to show kindness even when you are at the top of your profession despite the expectation to show a certain kind of (male) authority.

Congratulations also to the finalists: Hermione Allen & Alice Jefferis, Danielle Ayres, Catherine Hart, Sarah Khan-Bashir MBE and Kelly Thompson.

Under-35 Lawyer of the Year: Priscilla Osoba
Priscilla is a second year Trainee Solicitor at Burges Salmon. On the management committee of Burges Salmon’s BAME network BCultured, she was described by her nominator as extremely proactive, taking the lead on the network’s initiatives such as the launch of the South West Black Professionals Network.

When asked what a role model means to her, Priscilla wrote movingly of her grandfather, Saki Scheck, a lawyer and politician who campaigned for Ghanain independence. She wrote “what role models usually have in common is the resilience to overcome setbacks, the boldness to do things others hadn’t thought possible, and the vision to be their own role model when there was nobody else to look to.”

Congratulations also to the finalists: Cynthia Jakes, Stephanie Kay, Coralie McKeivor, Coleen Mensa and Ingrid Munyaneza.

In-House Lawyer of the Year: Catherine Palmer
Catherine is general counsel of the luxury fashion brand and retailer Joseph. Her nominator described how Catherine has supported women lawyers throughout her career. As vice-president of the charity the Franco-British Lawyers’ Society, Catherine realised many French women lawyers put their careers on hold when they moved to London with their partners. She highlighted this issue and encouraged firms to support French-qualified female lawyers to qualify in England, as well as setting up the Prix Champagne Louis Roderer which is now in its fifth year.

When asked what a role model means to her, Catherine wrote about her grandmother, who was in the first generation of women admitted to Oxford and who she described as “quietly confident, determined and graceful”.

Congratulations also to the finalists: Penny Caven, Elaine Hutton, Ruth Pearson, Prini Pithouse and Angharad Price.

Champion of the Year: Alison Eddy
Alison Eddy is Managing Partner for the London office of Irwin Mitchell. She is a leading advocate of promoting a healthy work-life balance and flexible working and her nominator described the female friendly environment Alison has helped to create at Irwin Mitchell.

Fourteen years ago, Alison was the first Partner at Irwin Mitchell with team members working flexibly. Now, 43% of their employees work flexibly. Alison writes “for our wellbeing its essential we make time for ourselves, our family and friends. It’s not enough to talk about these values – we have to live them.”

Congratulations also to the finalists: Dr Kim Barker, Jemima Lovatt, Sun-Hee Park, Rachel Pears and Eduardo Reyes.

Barrister of the Year: Rehana Popal
A barrister at 10 King’s Bench Walk, Rehana was described by her nominator as consistently advocating for equal and fair treatment of disenfranchised groups in our society.

When asked what a role model means to her, Rehana wrote “Being a role model means being there. Being visible. Being uncompromisingly unashamedly authentic, fighting for the values you believe will make the world a better place for all.”

Congratulations also to the finalists: Elaine Banton, Poonam Bhari, Kate Brunner QC, Professor Jo Delahunty QC and Professor Suzanne Rab.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Baroness Helena Kennedy of the Shaws QC
Helena is a barrister, author, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords. She has been a stalwart campaigner for equality in the legal profession for decades, writing and broadcasting on the discrimination women faced both as lawyers and as users of the law.

In 1992, her book Eve was Framed was published, which criticised the way women were treated by the British justice system. It led to a number of key reforms for women. In 2018, Eve was Shamed was published, detailing the continued ways which the legal system fails women and providing a sobering reminder of how far we still have to go before true equality is achieved.

2018 Winners

Under 35 Lawyer of the Year: Rachel Welch-Phillips
Rachel is an associate in the International Aviation Group at Bird & Bird in London, where she acts for operating lessors, managers and airlines in a variety of international aviation transactions, and provides regulatory advice to the industry with a special focus on environmental matters. Rachel is the founder and co-chair of the BAME network at Bird & Bird, Embrace, and actively engages in intersectional diversity work both within her firm and in the wider community. She is a mentor to a female law student through the firm’s Bursary Scheme, a Professional Ambassador in the Aspiring Solicitors programme, available for questions around the BAME female experience in city law, and informally mentors several young women in high school and university who aspire to law

Congratulations also to the finalists: Frances Hull, Zeena Luchowa, Katherine McAssey and Annsley Merelle Ward

In-House Lawyer of the Year: Ruth Murphy
Ruth is Legal Director of In Life and Product in BT. She sits on the Management Team of the Customer Solutions unit of Enterprise and leads a team of lawyers across the UK and Ireland that provide strategic, risk savvy, customer-centric advice on b2b commercial matters and all BT’s product launches. Ruth graduated in Law from Trinity College in Dublin and started her career as a solicitor in Eversheds before moving to BT. Ruth is a BT lead for Diversity and Inclusion and BT’s Partner Champion for Lean In Circles and is passionate about social mobility and STEM. She is Chairperson of the Judges for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, one of the largest science and technology exhibitions of its kind in the world, and is a Director on the Board of the BT YSTE.

Congratulations also to the finalists: Maaike de Bie, Jolie Norris and Anna Suchopar

Solicitor of the Year: Hilary Meredith
Hilary is the Chairman and Founder of Hilary Meredith Solicitors. She is visiting Professor of Law and Veterans Affairs at Chester University, and a former Military SIG Co-ordinator. The past Managing Partner of a City centre law practice employing 300, Hilary launched her own firm in 2003 and established Hilary Meredith Solicitors as a market leader in the field of personal injury and Public Affairs.

Congratulations also to the finalists: Katja Butler, Natasha Harrison, Belinda Lester and Brandusa Tataru-Marinescu

Barrister of the Year: Kirsty Brimelow QC
Kirsty is the head of Doughty Street’s International Human Rights Team and part of the Doughty Street Equalities Team. She specialises in international human rights, criminal law, public international, constitutional and international criminal law. She is instructed in the most serious, complex and prominent cases nationally and internationally.

Congratulations also to the finalists: Martha Cover, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Angela Rafferty QC and Brie Stevens-Hoare QC

Champion of the Year: Nilema Bhakta-Jones
Nilema is Chief Operating Officer, Farillio Limited and Founder of Courageous Leaders Event. Farillio helps SMEs to grow and thrive by delivering vital legal and business solutions on its platform. She was CEO of start-up Alacrity, and General Counsel of Ascential plc (250 FTSE) for 11 years. Nilema founded Courageous Leaders Event to empower women to find the courageous leader in themselves. The event fees fund an education project for adolescent girls to continue their secondary education in Zimbabwe. It is run by charity Plan International UK and supported by Dept Foreign Investment Development.

Lifetime Achievement Award: The Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond
Lady Hale was unable to collect her Award in person so recorded this message that was played at the Awards ceremony.

Before the 2018 edition of the Inspirational Women in Law Awards, we had one winner as the overall Inspirational Woman in Law Award.

2017 Winner: Anita Jewitt
Anita is a partner in the London office of Irwin Mitchell specialising in medical negligence, having been promoted to partner whilst on maternity leave. You can watch her First 100 Years film here.

2016 Winner: Keily Blair
Keily is Director, Co-Lead of Contentious Data Protection Strategy, Legal and Compliance Services at PwC United Kingdom. She was the first winner of the Inspirational Women in Law Awards and you can watch her First 100 Years film here.

Congratulations also to the other finalists: Georgina Wolfe, Annie Flower, Gemma Pesce and Claire Sng.