Past Events

WILLpower ‘Own Your Career’ (4 May 2016) sponsored by MLA

Lucy Choi: An Evening of Champagne and Shoes (26 April 2016) sponsored by Lucy Choi

WILLconnect (05 April 2016) sponsored by CMS Cameron McKenna

Panel Event at Lexis Nexis (24 February 2016) sponsored by LexisNexis

On 24 February 2016, WILL held a panel discussion at LexisNexis House.  The event was designed to challenge the conventional linear approach to career progression in the legal sphere. A panel composed of high profile speakers shared their personal experiences and demonstrated the diverse career opportunities available for qualified lawyers outside of the law firm environment.  Each individual had used their professional experience in private practice as a springboard to develop successful careers.

Sophie Gould, Head of Legal In-House for LexisNexis. Sophie's career journey challenges the myth that moving in-house can have a chilling effect on one's career.  Two years post qualification, Sophie left private practice to work in house as legal counsel.  This decision was triggered by her frustration with the 'face time' culture at law firms.  She does not regret her decision and has enjoyed the wider business experience she has gained over the last 10 years.  Sophie advises lawyers to be fearless – explore careers outside of law and try new things. Move in and out of law if necessary, it's easier than you think. She says that even where you are not the ‘perfect fit’ for a role, you should pitch the skills that you have and be clear about what you want to achieve from the position.

Fiona Fitzgerald, CEO of Radcliffe Chambers and member of the Legal Practice Managers Association Committee. Fiona experienced a rapid rise up the ranks, becoming a partner at a London firm aged 29.  She subsequently shifted her focus to forge a successful career in legal management.  Fiona has worked in management roles for fifteen years, having set her sights on becoming a CEO. She encourages people to take responsibility for their careers and keeping pushing towards the next level, whether in management or private practice. If you want to be a Partner, act like a Partner! She stresses the importance of taking advantage of mentoring, seizing every available opportunity, keeping an eye on the future of legal services and above all, doing your job with passion.

Chris Simmonds, District Judge of the Principal Registry of the Family Division and Director of Judicial Training. Chris ran his own high street practice specialising in family and care proceedings.  He had a brief stint at a London firm before beginning his judicial career. Chris emphasised that becoming a Judge is easier than you might think! He highlighted the excellent career prospects at all levels of the judiciary that are available to solicitors, dispelling the myths that it is only barristers who become Judges.

Dana Denis-Smith, Founder and CEO of Obelisk Support and the First 100 Years Project. Dana began her career as a news agency journalist before re-training as a lawyer in a magic circle firm. Her inquisitive nature prompted a move into consultancy.  She eventually set up Obelisk Support which provides legal talent to businesses.  Her workforce is predominantly female and the company is listed as one of the top 50 employers for women.  In the early days of Obelisk, she pitched relentlessly for work despite many firms appearing to write her off as the mum with a load of mums at home working for her. Undeterred, she won Goldman Sachs as her first client. Dana encourages a proactive approach to shaping one's career - be assertive and use your skills to take the opportunities that present themselves.

Winter Warmers (17 January 2016) sponsored by Withers LLP

Women in the Judiciary’ (4 November 2015) sponsored by Clyde & Co

WILLconnect (20 October 2015) sponsored by CMS Cameron McKenna

‘Women in Tech’ at the Museum of London (22 September 2015) sponsored by Cooley

WILL Survey results panel discussion (17 September 2015) sponsored Norton Rose Fulbright

Special Forces Club Event (15 July 2015) sponsored by Skarbek Associates

Monthly WILL Wednesdays

WILLpower ‘Own Your Career’ (20 May 2015) sponsored by MLA

Supper clubs on 30 April, 4 June and 7 October 2015

Shami Chakrabarti Talk on 23 April 2015 sponsored by Baker & McKenzie

On Thursday, 23 April, WILL was delighted to welcome Shami Chakrabarti as its keynote speaker at an event hosted by Baker & McKenzie.  Shami spoke passionately and entertainingly about her move from working at the Bar to being Director of Liberty (now a “recovering lawyer”!), via a stint working as a barrister for the Home Office, which she described fondly as the Dark Tower of Mordor…
It was fascinating to hear about Shami’s journey, and also hear anecdotes about how attitudes to women, and diversity in general, have changed since she joined the legal profession in 1994.  There then followed a question and answer session, which gave WILL members an opportunity to ask questions and seek Shami’s opinions and advice on issues that women still face in the work place.  The evening finished with informal networking.

Although we think she rather overstepped the mark(!), it was encouraging to hear Shami compare the grass-roots founding of WILL to the founding of Liberty, which was established as a direct response to the treatment of some of the marchers in the 1932 National Hunger March by people including E.M. Forster, H.G. Wells and Clement Attlee.  She was very supportive of the WILL initiative and of the power in numbers, and it was great to see so many members there so thank you all so much for coming along.

WILL would like to thank Shami and her team, and everyone at Baker & McKenzie, for putting on such an interesting and informative evening, and again, thank you to the members and Champions who attended.  Please do keep your eyes peeled for our next big event in July.

Sweatworking (4 February and 4 March 2015)

Kay White Webinar ‘Communicate & Influence with Confidence, Style & Ease for your Career Success’ (25 February 2015)

Global Law Summit "Women in Law: the pipeline is broken. Why this matters, and what can be done" in Westminster (23 February 2015) with Skarbek Associates

WILL Christmas Drinks (9 December 2014) at Haché, sponsored by MLA and Wilkie Farr

​We held our Christmas Drinks at Haché in Shoreditch on 9 December 2014, sponsored by Wilkie Farr & Gallagher and Major Lindsey & Africa. It was a fun and relaxed night - and the many sliders and sweet potato fries were definitely a hit... 

WILL Launch at the Andaz Hotel (17 October 2014) sponsored by Edwards Wildman, Kirkland & Ellis, MishCon de Reya, Shearman & Sterling

WILL was officially launched on 17 October 2014 at an event at the Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street, London. 

The evening started with a keynote speech by Fiona Woolf CBE, Lord Mayor of London, who spoke about the work she has undertaken during her time as Lord Mayor to bring diversity in the City under the spotlight, as well as her experiences as a solicitor in the City. She was followed by Mary-Ann Wright, the Chair of the Women Lawyers Division of the Law Society, who spoke about the work the WLD is doing to improve retention rates in the profession. Finally, Sascha Grimm, Chair of WILL, talked about why the committee decided to set WILL up and what it hopes to (and believes is possible to) achieve. Please follow this link for a copy of the speech. 

The speeches were followed by informal networking over a glass of wine and canapés. We were so pleased to see so many people there and to meet you all - we look forward to the next event! 

Photography below by Andy Staples.


Our first session was held on 20 October 2015 at CMS Cameron McKenna.  It was a great start to the sharing (on a Chatham house basis) of ideas on gender diversity initiatives that are in place across London, those which are working and what changes can and should be made.  This is a quarterly event - sign up for our emails for more information on upcoming sessions!


The WILLpower programme is a series of professional development events and sessions. WILL kicked off the WILLpower programme on 25 February 2015 with a webinar on communication, delivered especially for WILL members by Executive Coach, Kay White. We followed with the first session in the Own Your Career Series in May, which was an evening on how to promote yourself effectively within the legal market and maximise your personal brand/CV. Further details about WILLpower will be sent through the mailing list.

​The WILL Survey

WILL carried out a Survey in May 2015 with the help of King's College London. The headline results were announced and discussed at a panel discussion on 17 September 2015 featuring Funke Abimbola (Roche), Tamara Box (Reed Smith & 30% Club), Philip Goodstone (EY), and Nicholas Cheffings (Hogan Lovells). The Survey gives a real insight into the reasons why women are leaving law or private practice before reaching partnership or senior management. A report has been produced (see here) with an in-depth paper to be released following qualitative interviews. This will be presented it to management in firms and companies across the City. 

WILL/Bristows Event: The Rosie Conversation (26 May 2016)

Pioneers The Rt. Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE and Professor Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland, in conversation with the BBC's Jo Coburn about their careers in the law, the unexpected twists a career can take, the hurdles they faced and the lessions they can pass on. This event is sponsored by Bristows as a tribute to former partner Rosemary Choueka who died of secondary breast cancer on 16 June 2015 at the age of 38, leaving a husband and two young children. Rosie was passionate about encouraging women in the law (and elsewhere) to realise their potential.