Editor's Letter


The month of March is all about women. In the US, Women’s History Month highlights the contributions made by women to the key events in history and society. Moreover, the 8th March is recognised as International Women’s Day, the organisers of which, under the banner #BalanceforBetter, call for a more gender-balanced world in 2019.

With gender diversity statistics in law firms remaining largely stagnant; the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales recently claiming chauvinist, bullying judges dissuade women from taking judicial posts; and Red Lion Chambers’ barrister Joanna Hardy making headlines for accusing male lawyers of behaving as if ‘on a stag do’, there is perhaps no better time to celebrate the achievements of women in law, encourage them in their careers, and call for greater balance and respect in the profession.

UK Solicitors editor Georgina Stanley profiles this year’s outstanding achievement winners – all seven of which are women – at The Legal 500 Awards 2019, and we hear from One Essex Court’s Jackie Ginty and Hardwicke’s Amanda Illing on what it means to win 2019’s clerk and CEO of the year awards.

Elsewhere, Greenberg Traurig partner Elizabeth Ross Hadley gives wannabe associates some advice on the best route to making it in Big Law, while Australia editor Andrea de Palatis speaks to a host of big name partners across Asia Pacific and Europe to consider whether women lawyers can ‘have it all’.

March is also that special time of year when the pomp and ceremony of the UK Bar is in full show. Of the 108 barristers and solicitors taking silk at Westminster Hall on 11th March, 30 are women. Among them is Outer Temple Chambers’ Fiona Horlick, who writes about what it means to become Queen’s Counsel a century after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 granted women access to the Bar. Meanwhile, Michelle Heeley QC of No5 Barristers Chambers gives her top tips for those thinking of applying for silk this year.

This month’s issue also features a breakdown of our new China rankings from Bei Zhao; DLA Piper’s Roger Meltzer on why firms must drive social change; Kennedys’ Nick Thomas on why clients should see their lawyers as human beings; David Burgess on why law firms should treat their reception teams with more respect; and Baker McKenzie’s Esteban Raventós on the importance of adapting to the thinking of new lawyers; plus much, much more from Dechert, CMS, and LABLAW Studio Legale.

As always, please email me with your feedback on this issue and with your suggestions for articles in future issues (john.vdld@legal500.com).

John van der Luit-Drummond

On the shoulders of giants

The Bar

Fiona Horlick QC explains what it means to take silk a century after women obtained the right to enter the profession and why it’s important the next generation sees more female leaders.

It is both a proud and humbling moment to be selected for appointment to silk after a rigorous selection process. But it is especially so for a woman in the centenary anniversary year of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, the legislation that removed the bar on women joining the profession. The 100 years since …

‘There is corruption at all levels’

Interview with: Juan Camilo Rodríguez

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero’s managing partner talks about the challenges facing lawyers in Colombia and the positive impact of his firm’s recent integration into the CMS fold.

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is that culture to you? Our firm’s culture is based on team work. We work together towards the same goals and objectives. The foundation of our work is based on strong values and principles that guide us to always be client centric and work towards protecting …

Top tips for taking silk

The Bar

As the latest batch of silks are sworn in, Michelle Heeley QC offers her advice to those at the Bar considering their next big career leap.

Applying for silk is a big step. It’s expensive, it’s stressful, it’s time consuming and yet, every year hundreds of barristers and solicitors put themselves through the tortuous process. If you are considering applying, then this article is written to give you a few things to consider before you send off that cheque for £3,000. …

Legal ability is no more than permission to play

Interview with: Nick Thomas

Kennedys’ senior partner talks future proofing for Brexit, the firm’s expansion across Latin America, and why clients should see their lawyers as human beings.

What is the leadership structure at Kennedys? As the senior partner of Kennedys I am supported by a global strategy board which meets monthly. The board includes partners from across our global network of offices, ensuring that global perspectives are always considered in advance of any key developments at the firm. In addition to this, …

The one constant is that there is no constant

Career corner

The Legal 500 Hall of Famer and Dechert partner Andrew L. Oringer reflects on the ever-changing nature of ERISA and how young lawyers can take advantage of the practice’s ongoing evolution.

I’ve been asked to write about issues facing US lawyers in the area of ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act 1974) and executive compensation (for convenience, I’ll consider the executive compensation practice to be a part of the ERISA practice, in references below). I think the keyword here is ‘change’ – it’s clear to …

Morning person or late riser? It doesn’t matter

Interview with: Rafael Briz

Mayora & Mayora’s senior partner extolls the virtues of flexible working and work-life balance for associates.

How would you define Mayora & Mayora’s culture? I would define our firm’s culture externally as one that is centred on personalised service to the client. The partners and associates in charge of handling cases know every detail of the case and this allows us to provide an excellent service to the client. Internally, the …

A non-traditional path to a Texas-sized legal career

Career corner

You don’t have to become an associate straight out of law school to be successful in ‘Big Law’, argues Elizabeth Ross Hadley of Greenberg Traurig.

Many lawyers begin their careers as law firm associates straight out of law school and eventually make partner around eight years later. Law schools sometimes make you feel as if that’s the only path. I, on the other hand, became a shareholder (partner equivalent) at Greenberg Traurig 18 years after finishing law school and after …

Law firms must drive social change or lose the talent war

Interview with: Roger Meltzer

DLA Piper’s global co-chair talks about the challenges of
expansion, a commitment to innovation, and building an
organisation that reflects society.

DLA Piper is well known for the size and scope of its network. What are the specific challenges of leading a firm of this size and scope? Excepting the nightmarish logistics associated with time zones and travel, which do unquestionably make leadership positions in global firms more cumbersome, I also generally believe the challenges are …

The battle for diversity is far from won

Diversity and inclusion

Asia Pacific deputy editor Andrea de Palatis speaks to leading partners on mentoring, flexible working, unconscious bias, and how to break Big Law’s glass ceiling

For many women lawyers, a long-term career at the top level of Big Law seems just out of reach. Even in 2019, the centenary year of women being allowed entry to the profession in the UK, it is still widely believed that women cannot ‘have it all’ and must eventually choose between having a family …

When it comes to law firm branding, be bold


Look beyond the new colour palette and revamped website if you want a successful rebrand, writes Paul Bellamy, director of strategy and business development at SANDS.

Branding processes happen more often than we think. Six companies I have worked in rebranded during my tenure with them; two others immediately after I left them. My experience in the legal profession is limited to commercial law, as CEO of three of Norway’s largest firms, but I have also been fortunate to be involved …