Penelope Warne, CMS
The gracious style of CMS UK senior partner Penelope Warne (pictured above) belies a practitioner with rock solid credentials as an entrepreneurial and assured energy adviser. Joining the firm in 1993 she set up and successfully built its Aberdeen practice and went on to be a decisive force in its successful merger with Scots leader Dundas & Wilson in 2014. As head of energy, she was also a major force in local launches in Brazil, Mexico and Dubai. In 2013 she was elected senior partner of CMS Cameron McKenna, becoming one of the few women to ever lead a top 50 UK law firm. In 2016 she helped drive forward the much-touted, three-way union between CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang. A prominent figure in the oil and gas industry, others to recognise her work include The Legal 500, The Sunday Times and Euromoney.
Emma Danks, Taylor Wessing
One of the less obvious names to emerge hails from Taylor Wessing, where the firm’s youthful head of private equity Emma Danks received five separate citations in our research. Danks trained at Clifford Chance under the mentorship of Adam Signy and David Walker before joining Taylor Wessing as a partner in 2010. Having rapidly established herself she was in May 2017 promoted to head the team. Her practice focuses on deals in the £100m-£500m range for clients including MML Capital, Caledonia Investments, Bridgepoint and Synova. ‘I love Emma,’ observes one rival partner. ‘She has built a nice business there.’ Says another admirer: ‘She’s built one of the best mid-market practices in PE – she got herself into a good space.’
Anu Balasubramanian, DLA Piper
The former Kirkland & Ellis lawyer Anu Balasubramanian is DLA Piper’s strongest female deal name, having joined the firm in 2013. While her profile remains low key in the market, at DLA she has built a reputation as a prolific operator for mid-market work, acting for sponsors including ABRY Partners, Accel-KKR, Oakley Capital and Aurium Capital, typically on deals ranging from £200-£600m.
The mother-of-two concedes that many talented women with families opt to go in-house or focus on other practice areas to gain more autonomy but concludes it is ultimately ‘about understanding that clients are sophisticated and no-one forgets about you because you are off for four months for something important’. Other notable operators at DLA Piper include leveraged finance partner Julie Romer (a regular for Investec and Barclays) and corporate insurance specialist Mel James.
Jessica Adam, Macfarlanes
Having established herself in the classy deal team of Macfarlanes, Jessica Adam is reliably cited as the firm’s strongest female operator for M&A. Adam works with clients including Virgin and Exponent. She advises management on higher value deals, such as General Atlantic’s €1bn acquisition of Argus, and has worked with Macfarlanes’ client Slater and Gordon. Adam points to Macfarlanes veteran Bridget Barker – now a consultant – as a role model: ‘a very well respected female partner at a time when there were few’.
Other significant names at Macfarlanes include leveraged finance partner Kirstie Hutchinson, a Slaughter and May alumni who made partner in 2015, and rising star Emmie Jones. Notes one private equity head at a rival firm: ‘Emmie is very commercial, easy to work with and makes all the right points. She does a very good job.’
Lucie Cawood, Travers Smith
It is hard to stand out as a private equity lawyer in a team with as strong a sponsor heritage as Travers Smith but Lucie Cawood has managed it, forged in part on the back of a relationship with 3i which stretches back to 2007. ICG is another repeat client since 2009. Cawood admits to being ‘very proud of the fact I was made up to partner while on maternity leave in July 2012’. Notes Travers private equity chief Paul Dolman: ‘[Cawood] has come out of the shadow of Helen Croke. She’s a real star of the future. A very talented individual.’
Baker McKenzie’s London corporate finance head Helen Bradley is ensconced as one of its most influential City partners. The Legal 500-ranked Hogan Lovells partner Maegen Morrison was also noted in our research. Productive corporate real estate specialist Danielle Martin, who last year quit Reed Smith for Greenberg Traurig, is tipped by those in the know as a talent to watch.
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