Legal Business Blogs

‘Get the credit you deserve’ – top female partners on breaking biases and inspiring role models

As the world watches the battle rage in Ukraine, talking about gender inequality risks coming across as somewhat trite. But with women and children making up the overwhelming majority of the more than one million people displaced by the invasion so far, this year’s International Women’s Day has a pointed resonance. Everyone suffers during war, but women and girls are notoriously vulnerable to its impact, both physically and economically. The images of those flooding out of Ukraine to seek sanctuary elsewhere only serves to highlight this.

We’ve therefore taken the decision to still mark International Women’s Day and its #BreakTheBias message, as gender equality still needs to be fought for across all industries, including law and politics, and progress made still needs to be celebrated.

Whether you’re looking at London, New York or Frankfurt, it’s no secret that the commercial legal market has lagged other industries in terms of representation of women – particularly at the senior end. The Legal 500 rankings have inevitably faced similar challenges, with efforts to improve diversity hampered by gender representation within the profession itself, as well as, potentially, past unconscious bias within the market.

For the past three years we’ve been making a concerted effort to fix things – increasing the number of women and minority lawyers included at all levels of our rankings.

You can see the results in guides such as the UK, where the number of women we recognise has increased significantly. Women now make up almost 40% of the roughly 11,000 lawyers recognised in the UK Solicitors Guide, with the number of women included in our London rankings increasing year-on-year in almost 100 of our 126 practice areas.

And, as we’ve publicly stated, our efforts to improve representation of all forms within our rankings in the UK and elsewhere are still a work in progress – particularly when it comes to ethnicity. We are fully committed to ensuring further improvement.

Here though, for International Women’s Day 2022, we have decided to celebrate some of the talented women already included in our individual rankings around the world. Regardless of practice or geography, all of these women have established their positions at the very top of the market, securing the praise of peers and clients alike. For diversity of opinion we have included some younger, next generation partners as well as leading individuals.


Denise Gibson, Allen & Overy, Leading Individual – Acquisition Finance

Farah O’Brien – Corporate co-chair, Latham & Watkins London; leading individual, premium M&A

Akima Paul Lambert, dispute resolution partner, Hogan Lovells – next generation partner, commercial litigation – premium


Barbara L. Becker, chair & managing partner, Gibson Dunn, New York

Perlette Jura, Gibson Dunn, Los Angeles – disputes


Teresa Zueco, managing partner, Squire Patton Boggs in Madrid


Patricia Volhard, Debevoise & Plimpton, Frankfurt and London – leading individual investment funds, Germany


Agnes Rossi – Simmons & Simmons, Paris; Next Generation Partner – Fund Formation


Swee Yen Koh, WongPartnership – leading individual – Singapore International Arbitration

May Tai, managing partner, HSF Asia and Kathryn Sanger, Hong Kong

Kathryn Sanger, Leading Individual, Hong Kong – International Arbitration