Dana Denis-Smith

Dana Denis-Smith | Obelisk

Dana built Obelisk into a multi-million legal business, from a standing start in 2010 and at a time she was pregnant with her daughter. In both 2015 and 2016 Obelisk was named by The Times as one of UK’s Top 50 Employers for Women, an achievement all the more impressive given the age of the business. Obelisk’s unique value proposition to the legal market was market changing as it was focused on onshoring work through an innovative business model. Obelisk has over 800 lawyers, mainly women lawyers who wished to continue to work around their family commitments but had become economically inactive due to inflexible workplaces; Obelisk deploys this amazing talent on assignments to cover peaks in work for a stellar client list that includes Vodafone, BT, Siemens, ING, Barclays and many more blue chips. The innovative business model operated by Obelisk has led to Dana being recognised as a trailblazer in the legal sector – most recently, she received the 2015 Outstanding Innovator Award from the Legal Week for "constantly finding new ways to get alternate ways of working accepted and has helped provide a voice of reason in a hotly debated area". In 2010 she was featured in Management Today magazine’s "35 under 35" list of UK female high flyers. The yearly list features a roll call of the most inspirational businesswomen under the age of 35 in the UK. She is former magic circle lawyer and international journalist.

In 2014 Dana also founded the First 100 Years Project, the UK’s largest digital library charting the journey of women in law, which also includes the commissioning of 100 originals films, all freely available and to be donated to the nation upon the projects’ completion in 2019. Uniquely for the legal profession, in 2015 the project raised over £12,000 through crowdfunding to finance some of the films.

Leah Glover

Leah Glover | DWF

 Solicitor | DWF LLP

As the daughter of a single mother, Leah is passionate about helping women overcome adversity. Leah has volunteered her free time as Vice-Chair of the Law Society's Women Lawyers' Division (WLD) for three years, the organisation that  represents more than 80,000 women lawyers registered on the Solicitors Roll of England and Wales. Despite being the youngest person ever to be a member of the committee, Leah has been instrumental to hosting a plethora of career development events, networking events and writing thought leadership articles circulated to the members of the WLD.

She conquered her fear of public speaking, delivering a speech to nearly 200 attendees on International Women’s Day 2015 on behalf of the WLD, emphasising the importance of the day as a reminder of the issues faced by women and what can be done to bridge the gender gap and the power of mentoring junior lawyers.  Leah also plays and active role in the WLD “Returner Course” which is a weekend course for women lawyers who have had time out of work (usually to look after children) and want to get back into the profession.

Leah also assists with female students that are trying to get into the profession, hosting events for university societies and answering tough questions like “Is law still an inherently sexist profession?”.  Leah believes sexism, whether conscious or not, exists from the very start of a woman’s career, regardless of whether or not she has children, and as a result, sexism must be combatted at every level.

When she is not volunteering for WLD, Leah is a banking lawyer at DWF LLP. She sits on her firm’s diversity panel and is a passionate advocate of the "lift as you climb" philosophy, with several female mentees including both junior lawyers and paralegals at DWF.


Danielle Ayres

Danielle Ayres | Gorvins Solicitor

 Associate Solicitor | Gorvins Solicitors

Danielle Ayres is a solicitor at Gorvins Solicitors who specialises in pregnancy, maternity and sex discrimination. Danielle provides her expert legal advice to both employers and employees in this area.

Danielle is a mum herself to two young boys and during her maternity leave was made aware through speaking to other new mums just how widely prevalent pregnancy and maternity discrimination was. With this in mind, Danielle set up her own niche area to which she would focus her attention upon her own return from maternity leave. This led her to set up specialist advice clinics called ‘Keeping Mum’ for expectant and new mothers, offering legal advice and support to those encountering problems at work.

These clinics have resulted in Danielle being involved in a large number of Tribunal cases in this area, acting on behalf of both Claimant and Respondent clients. Further to this, she has also been able to successfully negotiate settlement agreements, securing some large financial settlements as well as apologies on her clients’ behalf.

Danielle’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed: she is now regularly called upon by various news and radio shows, including the BBC and national newspapers, and is an active contributor to issues in this complex area of law. She has also been recognised by being shortlisted for various awards, such as Manchester Young Talent Awards 2015 and BizMums Awards 2015.


Rhiannon Paine

Rhiannon Paine | Clifford Chance

 Trainee Solicitor | Clifford Chance LLP

I am a third seat trainee solicitor with Clifford Chance LLP currently sitting in our Real Estate Finance practice. I am also the youngest ever, first female and first trainee to act as co-chair of our LGBT network, Arcus (latin for rainbow).

I joined Clifford Chance and Arcus in February 2015. In the last year, I led on the development of female engagement with our LGBT network and was appointed to both our internal Steering Committee and the Steering Committee of the (external) Gay Women's Network, representing Clifford Chance. I returned from international secondment to the Debt Capital Markets team of our Paris office in March, and in April replaced our outgoing co-chair.

I speak to media on CC's diversity efforts and LGBT life at the firm, and pull in our internal and recruitment contacts and GWN members for workshops and networking events I coordinate. I also speak at LGBT conferences and at recruitment events to ensure CC attract the best talent.

Female engagement, or lack thereof, with LGBT networks is an issue many corporates face. I have worked to identify some of the reasons behind lack of female turnout and develop innovative LGBT and Allies events in partnership with client and women's networks that, by being open to all and so 'label-free', encourage attendance and participation and foster a culture of inclusivity.

As co-chair my remit is now wider.  I am now driving a series of learning events on 'multiple identities' that touch issues including mental health and wellbeing, gender identity and faith and the interaction of each of these with our sexuality and how this effects our happiness and productivity at the office. As a network we constantly seek to develop and I feel privileged to contribute to positive cultural growth, diversity and inclusion within Clifford Chance.


Kim Opszala

Kim Opszala | Dentons

 Associate, Corporate | Dentons UKMEA LLP

I am an associate in the Corporate team at Dentons, based in Milton Keynes.  Our team was recently voted “Corporate Team of the Year “ at the Insider Dealmaker Awards, Central & East.

When I can, I like to help out worthy causes and recently coordinated a local collection of items to be taken to the Calais Jungle before winter. I regularly volunteer for Worktree, an education charity based in Milton Keynes, which aims to help and prepare school students (aged 11-16) for the world of work by introducing them to employers.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling and have backpacked around the world visiting Australia, Fiji, India, Hong Kong, South East Asia, Europe and Eastern Canada.  I also enjoy cooking and baking and I like to keep fit by regularly attending the gym.


Rising Star in Law Shortlist 2016


Claudine Adeyemi

Claudine Adeyemi | Mishcon de Reya

 Associate | Mishcon de Reya LLP

Claudine is a 25 year old lawyer in the tier 1 Property Litigation team at Mishcon de Reya LLP. Claudine advises on disputes relating to commercial and high value residential properties.

Claudine is passionate about diversity, particularly ethnicity and social mobility issues affecting young people. Claudine therefore sits on the firm's Diversity Committee and in her spare time, founded and runs The Student Development Co. CIC, a non-profit organisation which provides career related support to 16 to 24 year olds from less privileged backgrounds. Claudine has worked with Mishcon de Reya, PwC, Sky and CEB and supported 150 young people.

Claudine is excelling in her field, featuring in Property Week's Fearless 40 under 40 in 2015 and Highly Commended Junior Lawyer of the Year in the Law Society Excellence Awards. Claudine was also chosen by Women For Refugee Women to be a representative for their Set Her Free campaign.


Laura Mckoy_RGB

Laura Mckoy | Farrer & Co

 Solicitor | Farrer & Co

Laura is a Solicitor at Farrer & Co, assisting major financial institutions, public and private companies, prominent charities and high profile individuals with domestic and cross-border banking transactions.

She is highly rated by both clients and her peers and has lectured across the world (including at Cambridge University, Melbourne University and The Hague) on various subjects, from taxation and corporate law to international law and war crimes.

Laura is passionate about helping others and sits as her firm's Corporate Responsibility Secretary. She volunteers at a local legal advice centre, has worked on capital punishment cases in the US and is assisting the Law Society in producing its nationwide pro bono manual.

With endless enthusiasm, Laura is a loud advocate for diversity in the profession - she travels around prisons, schools and universities to inspire young people to fulfil their potential and mentors students through the Change100 and IntoUniversity schemes.


Keily Blair

Keily Blair | Morrison & Foerster

 Associate | Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP

As a senior Associate in Morrison & Foerster’s litigation department, Keily predominantly acts for institutions and C-suite level individuals on their most complex and high profile investigations and enforcement actions. Keily is also an expert on anti-corruption matters and regularly provides training and commentary on anti-corruption issues.

Keily is committed to diversity with a focus on encouraging young women to be open about their ambitions and to develop positive responses to the challenges they may face in the workplace. In September 2015 Keily co-founded the network Fractio Vitri to support young women working in the City. She also volunteers with Inspiring the Future and leads a Lean-In Circle of female professionals.

Keily has two young daughters and is open about the challenges facing working parents. Keily won the Women in the City Future Leaders Award 2015 and is listed in the City A.M. Women in the City Powerlist.


Georgina Quinton-Smith

Georgina Quinton Smith | PwC

 Senior Associate | PwC

I graduated in 2013 with first class honours in European and International Law from the University of Sheffield, receiving three awards and the highest degree mark in my year. I moved to London and started work with PwC Legal immediately, combining working full-time with studying for my ICSA exams. I qualified as a chartered secretary (GradICSA) in 2015 after completing all exams in under 2 years.

I’m always busy volunteering and fundraising for charities and undertaking sporting challenges (including my third marathon in a year in April!) I’m passionate about human rights and international development and represented PwC and the UK at the One Young World summit in 2015 (a forum bringing together ‘young leaders’ across the world for positive change). Since returning, I’ve been inspired to do more including becoming an environment champion for Greenwich and Woolwich, additional volunteering and taking a Leadership in Sport course with England Athletics.



Stephanie Dare

Stephanie Dare | Clifford Chance

 Immigration Adviser | Clifford Chance LLP

I am an immigration lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP. I qualfied through CILEx which saw me balancing my studies whilst gaining valuable experience in immigration law as a full time paralegal. CILEx is a long route to qualification but the advantage is that your student debt is comparatively lower, and you can focus on your preferred area of specialism in your work based training. I am hugely passionate about law and believe it should be viewed as a career option for anyone, regardless of their back ground. I encourage aspiring lawyers to pursue the CILEx route to qualification on a regular basis, particularly though PRIME which is a social mobility initiative aimed at broadenting access to the legal profession.

In addition to the mental challenge my job provides on a daily basis, I also love a physical challenge and I recently completed the London Marathon and Mens Health Survival of the Fittest.  I also volunteer to cook at serve breakfast to the homeless at Whitechapel Mission in east London.