Editor's Letter

December / January Issue #12 front cover image

After a long year it’s usually a good idea to take stock and reflect on what you’ve achieved and what you’ve still to accomplish. As 2019 draws to a close, I wanted this issue of fivehundred to look back once again at a key issue we have covered over these last 12 months – women in law.

2019 marked the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, a piece of legislation which paved the way for women to become lawyers in the UK. There’s no denying women and the profession have come a long way since Carrie Morrison and Mary Dorothea Heron became the first women to be admitted as solicitors in England and Ireland, respectively; since Helena Normanton and Mithan Tata became the first women to practice at the English and Indian Bars, respectively; since Margaret Kidd was appointed the first King’s Counsel in Scotland; since Dame Catherine Fiona Woolf DBE JP became the first female partner at CMS Cameron McKenna and Diana Parker became the first female chair of Withers; and, of course, since Baroness Hale was appointed the first woman Justice of the Supreme Court.

But while these – and many, many more – watershed moments for equality have been rightly celebrated collectively throughout the past year, law firms must not allow the development of women in law to continue at the same glacial pace over the next 100 years. Instead, legal businesses the world over must correctly recognise the women within their ranks, retain their undoubted talent, correctly remunerate them for the work they do so well, and elevate them to the leadership positions deserved.

As mentioned in previous issues of this magazine, The Legal 500 is committed to doing its bit in highlighting the many brilliant women working in the legal sector via our various guides; this is a work in progress, but my fellow editors and I promise there are more exciting developments to come in the year ahead. And yet, as we say goodbye to 2019 and prepare for a new decade to begin, I want this fivehundred to once again act as a showcase for women in law, the successes they have achieved, and the challenges they still face.

Identifying barriers to female leaders, Irwin Mitchell’s managing partner in London, Alison Eddy, explains how to create a working environment that allows you to attract the best and brightest talent, while Littleton Chambers’ Charlene Ashiru provides advice on how to balance practice at the Bar with parenthood; and Maria-Leticia Ossa-Daza, head of Willkie’s Latin America practice talks about gender and racial bias in law. We also take a look at the Mansfield Rule with contributions from Pepper Hamilton and Orrick.

But we’re not done with hearing from leading women lawyers: Lavazza GC Simona Musso speaks with senior research analyst Sara Mageit about being a woman in a senior business role – and putting the first espresso machine in space; Allen & Overy’s Astrid Krüger talks about the challenge of handing over from one generation to the next; Van Doorne’s Elisabeth Thole explains how women made tech law their own; and 5SAH Chambers’ Louisa Collins provides an insight into the life of a specialist extradition barrister. Plus, our head of in-house content, Fiona Fleming, talks to BELAW’s Jerry Tucker about securing a record A$190m settlement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders whose wages were stolen in Queensland, Australia.

US content editor Helen Donegan graces this month’s issue with no fewer than four must-read interviews: first, A. Verona Dorch, Peabody Energy’s chief legal officer, reveals what she looks for in outside counsel and the importance of diversity; Parley Pro CEO Olga V. Mack believes in-house lawyers are leading the way with legal tech ; Arnold & Porter’s global and US heads of antitrust and competition, Debbie Feinstein and Jonathan Gleklen, talk about their team’s rise up the US rankings; and, finally, she profiles litigation powerhouse Selendy & Gay, a majority women-owned US firm.

Back on this side of the pond, UK solicitors editor Georgina Stanley talks to elite law firms jockeying for position in London’s leveraged finance market about recent key trends, and she also takes the temperature in Manchester’s legal hub, speaking to leading firms about north-shoring, the work-life balance debate, and Brexit uncertainty. Also worth a read is deputy Bar editor Will Tolcher’s report on the rising tide of litigants in person and McKenzie friends in UK courts, and yours truly highlights the best ranked sets from the 2020 guide.

But we’re still not done in this holiday double issue, as we also hear from Venable’s chief revenue officer, Gunther Schumacher, on marketing and innovation in law; IndusLaw’s co-founder Suneeth Katarki on India’s war for talent; and Ten Old Square Chambers’ Keith Plowman talks about how clerks must protect their key assets’ welfare.

I do hope you enjoy this last 2019 issue of fivehundred. We are now off for a short break but we’ll be back in February with another issue chock full of exclusive interviews and market insight. Until then, from our family to yours, season’s greetings and a happy new year.

John van der Luit-Drummond

Fighting for merit

The client side

Simona Musso, general counsel at Lavazza, speaks with senior research analyst, Sara Mageit, about the changes she has experienced in almost 24 years with the company, the experiences of being a woman in a senior role in Italian business, and her team’s involvement in putting the first espresso machine in space

Can you tell me a bit about your role at Lavazza and how it’s evolved over the years? In February, I’ll have been working for Lavazza for 24 years. I joined after seven years in private practice. I joined Lavazza when the legal department was in its embryonic stage so I had the opportunity to …

Bringing diversity to the table

The client side

In a series of interviews with some of the top GCs across the US, fivehundred provides insights into the priorities and motivations of the influential in-house lawyers who are included in The Legal 500’s 2019 United States GC Powerlist. For this month’s interview, Helen Donegan, US editor content), spoke with A. Verona Dorch, executive vice president, chief legal officer, government affairs and corporate secretary at Peabody Energy, who shares her views on what she looks for in outside counsel and the importance of diversity in the legal profession.

Helen Donegan: To start off, can you tell me about your role? Verona Dorch: If I think about what I truly do on a day-to-day basis, I see myself as a ‘crisis GC’. There are any number of critical matters that we are typically working our way through as an energy company, so my job …

Breaking down the barriers facing female leaders

The Big Issue: Women in Leadership

Alison Eddy, Irwin Mitchell’s managing partner in London, on creating a female friendly environment which has allowed the firm to attract the best and brightest

When I joined Irwin Mitchell with two other partners in 1995, to set up the London office, I had five children aged between three and 11 years old and juggled bringing in work, looking after clients, and building a team. No one at that time talked about work-life balance or flexible working, something I would …

Exploring new technologies


Olga V. Mack, experienced tech lawyer and current CEO at Parley Pro, speaks with US editor (content), Helen Donegan, about contract management solutions, how she believes in-house lawyers are leading the way with legal tech, and the best way for lawyers to test new legal technologies

Helen Donegan: In your career to date you’ve had roles in both private practice and in-house; what specifically interested you in a legal career? Olga Mack: I went to law school to be a tech lawyer, so I am a tech lawyer by training and by design. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at the …

Spotlight on: Arnold & Porter rising to the competition

Practice spotlight

The antitrust/competition team from Arnold & Porter have risen from tier 3 to tier 1 in The Legal 500 United States rankings between 2017 and 2019. US editor (content), Helen Donegan, spoke with global head of the practice, Debbie Feinstein, and head of the practice for the US, Jonathan Gleklen, about the team’s rise in the rankings and the efforts they would attribute to this

Helen Donegan: Can you please give me a brief overview of your team? Debbie Feinstein: We have more than 100 people in our antitrust practice across the US and Europe. I lead the global group and focus on merger control, with some work on civil conduct investigations and litigation. Jonathan leads the US group and …

Protecting your assets

The Bar

Keith Plowman, senior clerk at Ten Old Square Chambers, discusses the modern barristers’ clerk’s role in promoting good mental health in chambers

Modern barristers’ clerks are not a ‘new breed’ but the evolutionary result of the shifting forum in which they operate. Their history may hark back to harsher and more subservient times, but their current expertise is recognised by successful sets of chambers who require effective management of individual barristers’ practices and chambers’ business. The poet, …

A day in the life…

The Bar...

5SAH Chambers’ Louisa Collins details her life as a specialist extradition barrister, juggling family commitments with exciting, challenging, and emotive cases

Usually a ‘day in the life story’ starts with the morning, but for this job it usually commences the evening before, readying myself for the following day. The adrenaline of being in court brings with it a rush of activity close to the hearing date. I tend to prepare for examining witnesses the day before …

All you need to know about the UK Bar 2020

The Bar

John van der Luit-Drummond provides an overview of the latest Bar rankings, some general submission feedback, and news on what’s to come in our next research round

Congratulations to every barrister and chambers that appears in The Legal 500’s 2020 UK Bar rankings. The latest rankings are a culmination of all your hard work and expertise as well as the painstaking research carried out by our dedicated and talented research team. This latest guide is our most expansive yet. The 2020 guide …

Selendy & Gay reimagines the modern law firm

Diversity and inclusion

Amidst growing calls from clients, market consultants, and alternative legal service providers for a systematic overhaul of the traditional law firm model, ten of America’s most prominent trial attorneys banded together to re-architect law firm structure, operations, and culture.

The result: Selendy & Gay, a powerhouse litigation firm which opened its doors in February 2018, and today is one of the only elite, majority women-owned firms in the United States. In announcing its launch, the firm vowed to deploy diverse critical thinking to transform ‘the most challenging litigation scenarios into net positives’ for its …

Diversity rules: A closer look at Mansfield Certification

Diversity and inclusion

The Mansfield Rule – increasingly well-known as a national movement to increase diversity in law firm recruitment and promotion practices in the US – was created by the Diversity Lab, a self-described ‘incubator for innovative ideas and solutions that boost diversity and inclusion in law’. The Mansfield Rule originated from a winning idea from the …