decorative image

Celebrating diversity

The Women and Diversity in Law Awards – a night to remember

Having been unable to attend last year’s ceremony, I was pleased as punch to make it to the 2024 Women and Diversity in Law Awards (WDLA) evening, held on Wednesday at The Brewery in London. I was lucky enough to be seated at one of the most fun and inspiring tables that I have ever experienced at an awards evening.

It was a genuinely interesting experience to be in a male minority in that room, and certainly in a white male minority, having spent 25 years attending similar functions that were chock-full of men. To my male readers, I highly recommend attending in future.

The Women and Diversity in Law Awards were certainly much more vibrant and engaging compared to other awards ceremonies that I have seen in recent years, and there is much to be learned here by other titles and major outlets – these should be taking a good, hard look at what has been achieved by WDLA in such a short space of time.

I saw a celebration of sorority, femininity, racial diversity, neurodiversity, and diversity of thinking, and a refreshing lack of regimentation as to whether nominees were in-house, barristers, GCs, etc – all that mattered was whether they had truly stood out in their respective category, and I can’t help but feel that the WDLA may well help to fundamentally change how legal awards work in future.

There were authentic stories and life lessons being shared, thought-provoking conversations taking place around the dinner table, and a variety of different approaches being taken to doing social media live from the room – some of which scared the living bejeezus out of me, even though I consider myself something of a social media pro…

My thanks to Florence Brocklesby for inviting me, and to Laura Brunnen for kindly hosting the table.

What I found truly inspiring was to see, hear and experience that things can and should be different to much of the norm as it is lived each day within large swathes of the legal sector. Yes, we are making progress towards greater diversity, as the election of the Magic Circle’s first Black managing partner – one of our news stories featured below – shows. But you only need to read some of the other NIBs to see that there is still a long way to go. The death of Vanessa Ford, a partner at Pinsent Masons, should be enough to make us take a good, long, hard look in the mirror.

Reading such stories about toxic work culture and the hurdles still faced by so many women in this industry makes me all the more determined to support the many fantastic women we come across on a regular basis at TBD, and to make sure their voices are heard.

As an agency, we are involved in an increasing amount of diversification of voices for law firms in our PR work; we support a large number of female law firm founders in growing their businesses; and we help the predominantly male managing partners at top-100 law firms to identify ways that they can promote more female and diverse talent and make sure that these people are the future leaders of the businesses.

This is a golden thread that runs deeply throughout our business, with a complete gender balance across our team, who all work very happily with each other and support one another. We would like to see more of this at major law firms. After attending this week’s awards ceremony, I know for certain that the legal sector, and the world at large, would be a better place for it.

In other news

The Magic Circle gains its first-ever Black law firm leader

On Wednesday, Financial News featured capital markets specialist Hervé Ékué, A&O’s new managing partner and the first Black leader of a Magic Circle firm – a step in the right direction for a sector in which Black lawyers are seriously underrepresented at senior level.

‘Magic Circle’ now meaningless?

This week, Law.Com International also wrote about A&O Shearman’s new leadership team, highlighting the fact that the firm’s two new most senior leaders will be based in Paris and Abu Dhabi respectively – this, so the article states, “puts to rest any lingering notion of A&O Shearman as a ‘Magic Circle’ firm in the conventional sense, with many in the industry believing the the moniker has now become redundant”.

How law needs to change so women can thrive in the profession

To mark International Women’s Day last week, the Law Society Gazette ran a thought-provoking feature on the structural reforms needed to help the many women entering the legal sector advance to senior positions, where they are still woefully underrepresented.

What price success at City firms?

In the past week, both The Times and The Telegraph ran pieces on the toxic, high-pressure culture found within some City firms following the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Pinsent Masons partner Vanessa Ford, which found that she had died “while undergoing an acute mental health crisis” brought on by working 18-hour days.

‘The autism tests are on us’, say City law firms

Due to huge NHS backlogs, City firms including Norton Rose Fulbright are offering their lawyers support in obtaining diagnoses for neurological conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to an article published in The Telegraph on Sunday.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition!


Share now |

Explore our latest posts