Frances Murphy, the City’s most prominent female deal lawyer who in 2008 became the first female head of corporate at Slaughter and May, passed away last night after a long illness.
In a statement issued this morning (26 May), Slaughters senior partner Steve Cooke said: ‘This is a very sad day. The news was received with great sorrow by everyone here. Frances was one of the most outstanding corporate lawyers in the City and made an exceptional contribution to the firm. She held the respect of the business community and had a huge reputation in the global legal market. We will really miss her. Our thoughts are with her family.’
Murphy was one of the City’s best known corporate lawyers, having joined Slaughters in 1981, becoming a partner in 1990. She built a wide practice and acted on a string of high profile transactions at Slaughters, representing some of the London firm’s largest clients, including General Electric, Banco Santander, Alliance Boots and Burberry.
In 2008, Murphy became Slaughters’ first female head of corporate, a post she held until 2014. While major law firms have made efforts to improve gender diversity at partner level, in the core area of M&A work, partner ranks have remained overwhelmingly male. Murphy was active outside the profession in a range of roles, including the 30 Per Cent Club – which launched in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women on FTSE 100 boards, and once chaired the Network for Knowledge, a City networking group for women. She was also on the board of trustees for Great Ormond Street Hospital.