Sacha Grimm

Sascha Grimm ǀ Cooley

Sascha Grimm is an associate solicitor at the London office of Cooley, sitting in the commercial litigation department. Sascha is also the Chair of a women’s legal network called Women In Law London (WILL), which aims to tackle the poor retention rate of women in law.

Having always been passionate about diversity within the legal profession, Sascha became involved early on in her previous firm’s internal women’s group. This experience made her appreciate the complexity of the issues behind the huge loss of female talent in the legal profession and she became determined to be part of the movement to drive change.

At the end of 2013, after unsuccessfully trying to find an external women’s network focused on associate-level women (the very demographic leaving the profession), Sascha pulled together a group of lawyers and together they set up WILL – a young, dynamic, grassroots network aimed at pre-partnership and senior management female lawyers in London.

WILL launched online in July 2014, with the official launch event in October 2014. Since then WILL has acquired over 1,700 members representing more than 350 different law firms and companies in London. WILL holds frequent events and has set up a number of initiatives, working with members as well as with firms and companies directly, to drive positive change in the legal profession.

Sascha is extremely passionate about encouraging law firms and companies to invest in and pull up their female talent. She is an energetic and committed Chair of WILL, balancing this role with her day job, as well as sitting on her current firm’s internal Women’s Initiative. She regularly speaks at public events about women in law and also sits on the Executive Committee of the Equal Justices Initiative, which promotes greater diversity within the Judiciary.


Tamara Cizeika ǀ Allen & Overy

Tamara CizeikaTamara specialises in general regulatory issues in the financial services industry, advising firms on UK and EU regulatory requirements and drafting and negotiating UK and international agreements.

 Tamara is an active contributor to industry issues, publishing an independent report in 2011 for TISA, and being the main author of a 2013 white paper for the Investment Association on outsourcing and the “too big to fail” issue. She sits on a number of industry working groups (including AIMA working groups on custodians/depositaries and on research/dealing commission and Investment Association working groups on key industry issues and social media). She regularly speaks at industry seminars, and recently hosted a thought leadership event with the Chief Economist of the Bank of England.

Tamara began her career at a regulator, working for the general counsel of the financial services regulator in Australia. She has also been a trustee of an arts charity (www.painesplough.com) for more than 10 years. Its goal is to find the next generation of great English playwrights and do “more plays, more places, more often”, reaching communities that otherwise don’t get a chance to see the arts. It recently celebrated its 40th year with its most ambitious programme yet, touring 12 productions to 54 places with 5 star reviews. It has also built a “pop up” theatre in the round that can be entirely “flat packed”, raising £350,000 and wining ‘Theatre Building of the Year’ at The Stage Awards.


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Gemma Lodge ǀ DLA Piper

GemmaLodgeWith tremendous hard work and talent, Gemma has built a career for herself in the Real Estate team at DLA Piper and is now a highly regarded associate in the London-office.

When Gemma first joined DLA Piper as an office assistant almost 19 years ago she had no inkling as to the opportunities that might lie ahead. After some challenging periods early in life - including a brief spell in local authority care - before leaving home at 16, Gemma admits that it just did not occur to her that a career in such a highly regarded profession as the law would be open to her.

After years of combining full-time work as a legal assistant with part-time study, she proudly qualified as a legal executive (in 2007) before re-qualifying as a solicitor in 2011. Gemma handles a wide range of commercial property transactions, primarily dealing with sales and purchases for institutional investors and high-value commercial lettings.

Gemma is keen to use her personal experiences to help champion the talents of others who have never even considered a career in law or who might have disregarded traditional routes to qualification due to the financial burden and risk involved. She is convinced that the ability to "learn while you earn" is the key to improving diversity in the workplace.

Gemma says "Hard work and determination aside, the only reason I am where I now am is because a woman I whole-heartedly respected in her professional capacity as a senior partner at DLA Piper took me aside one day and told me one day that I could. I can only hope to encourage others in the same fashion".


Alicia Millar

Alicia Millar ǀ Reed Smith LLP

Alicia Millar is the EME Learning and Development Manager based in the Reed Smith London office. She joined the firm in April 2014 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer where she was a manager in the global L&D team. Prior to this she worked as a Training Officer for Christie’s, the international auction house.

Alicia’s responsibilities in the London office include designing and delivering the firm’s Management Development Programme and Senior Associate Business Development programme; working as a business partner with practice group leaders to deliver bespoke development initiatives; and driving the firms programme of coaching. She also has responsibility for learning and people development in the Paris and Munich offices. Outside of L&D, Alicia is co-chair of PRISM, the Reed Smith LGBT forum, and she works closely with the leadership team of WINRS - the firm's women’s initiative.

Alicia has a BA Hons in Marketing and a diploma in International Business Management from Staffordshire University. She is a qualified MBTI® step I and II practitioner, and Firo-B®, she is also an EMCC certified coach.


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Rashida Abdulai | Hogan Lovells

Rashida AbdulaiRashida Abdulai is a Senior Associate and Solicitor-Advocate within the renowned International Arbitration practice at international law firm Hogan Lovells. She acts for multinational companies on complex, high-value international business disputes across a range of industry sectors including energy and natural resources, telecommunications, consumer goods and banking and financial services.

As a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion in the legal sector, Rashida is a founding member and Co-Chair of the UK’s first inter-law firm diversity network, NOTICED, which is an initiative aimed at promoting ’Networking Opportunities to Integrate, Celebrate and Educate on Diversity’. NOTICED has welcomed more than 200 junior and aspiring lawyers to its high profile events over the past two years. Rashida is also a committee member of the Law Society's Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division.

Of mixed Caribbean and African descent, Rashida has particular interests in these geographical regions and the role of law in economic growth and development. Rashida is a key member of Hogan Lovells' Africa practice and regularly publishes articles on important legal developments and issues of interest to businesses operating in Africa, and has participated as a speaker and panellist at a number of legal and business forums both locally and internationally, including the East Africa International Arbitration Conference, held in Nairobi in July 2014 and in Tanzania in April 2015. Rashida sits on the working committees of International Lawyers for Africa (ILFA) and Africa International Legal Awareness (AILA), non-profit organisations which work to build legal excellence and foster sustainable development across Africa.


Claire Sng ǀ DLA Piper

Claire SngClaire Sng is a Senior Associate in DLA Piper UK LLP's London Intellectual Property and Sport teams. Claire was previously employed by London 2012 as one of only four Brand Protection Lawyers. Claire worked closely with enforcement bodies and was awarded a commendation by the Commander of the Metropolitan Police Service for "Professionalism and Outstanding contribution to Operation Podium" relating to her work in tackling illicit ticketing at London 2012.

Since returning to DLA Piper, in addition to her full workload, Claire has continued to give up her time to advise on strategy relating to brand protection and hosting major sporting events, including speaking at the World Intellectual Property Office's (WIPO's) first IP and Sport conference in Asia, held in Singapore in November 2014, which was attended by representatives from 12 Asian countries from the Asia Pacific; and WIPO's first such conference in Senegal in 2013 talking to government representatives and the sports industry. In addition, Claire has supported the UK Intellectual Property Office in projects aimed at sharing knowledge with Government and authorities, including speaking at a variety of workshops and sessions in Brazil in February 2014 and April 2015. This resulted in Claire being nominated by the UK IPO to attend a Royal Garden party at Buckingham palace to thank her for her "outstanding work".

Back at the office, Claire is a mentor in the firm's scheme, and has set up a breakfast training club for her team to share knowledge and keep up-to-date.

In her spare time, Claire is a keen sportswoman and is involved in raising money for charity. She has just completed the London to Brighton bike ride, raising money for the British Heart Foundation and she is currently training for the Amsterdam marathon for which she is raising money for Cancer Research UK.


Jessica Kemp ǀ Travers Smith

Jessica KempJessica is a tax partner at Travers Smith. She specialises in mergers and acquisitions with a particular focus on private equity. She advises private equity houses, investee companies and management teams on a wide range of transactional, structural and incentive based issues.

Her recent experience includes advising on the IPOs of British Car Auctions, Revolution Bars and Spire Healthcare and the buyouts of Big Bus Tours, Aspen Pumps and the ASK/Zizzi Group.

She was educated at Grangefield Comprehensive School in Stockton-on-Tees and then at Oxford University (Merton College) and Harvard Law School, where she received her Master’s degree in Law.

Before coming to Travers Smith she worked for Clifford Chance in London and Dubai and prior to that she lived and worked in Malawi defending prisoners on death row and those accused of capital crimes.

She has carried out pro bono work at a West London law centre and is a member of her firm’s Women’s Initiative as well as a maternity mentor.


Monica Dupont-Barton | Reed Smith LLP

Monica Dupont-BartonI've always wanted to build a European leverage finance practice from London. With the enlargement of Europe, the possibilities of investments in Europe have also increased. The leverage finance desk of every fund and every bank in London contains nationals from at least Germany, France, Italy and Spain (and possibly Holland). And yet law firms are necessarily national in their approach to delivering legal advice.

I joined Reed Smith last year to help build a truly European leveraged finance practice. I played a pivotal role in recruiting highly trained individuals that were well known in the leveraged market from Gide, Linklaters and White & CAse. I was also the driving force behind the growth of our French practice with the recruitment of a finance partner. We didn't use headhunters so my personal reputation in the market played a key role. We were just starting off at Reed Smith so people didn't know us. I used my personal credibility to attract both talen and clients.

One year on, we've worked on inovative unitranche transactions in a number of European jurisdictions including Germany, Holland, Greece, France, Norway and Italy and, most recently, we've extended our reach into the NY market. We've driven all deals from London - because our clients, the alternative capital providers are based in London. Our team in London can chair conference calls and negotiate deals in English, French, Italian or German and we're proud of our diversity. As a result, our skills set have improved, we're better lawyers and better business people, because we understand our client's business and we transpose it in different jurisdictions.

I have also become member of the 30% club and have founded an informal club of women in the leverage finance and alternative capital provider industry to help support each others careers. On every panel discussion that I have chaired over the past year, I've ensured that at least one panellist is a woman.

Last year I have become involved with the French Chamber of Commerce in London and have organised a number of ladies' event through the Chamber.

My biggest achievement this year is to found a team that works hard but has a life outside of work. The legal profession is a difficult one for work life balance, but we strive to introduce flexible working whenever we can and we encourage every member of the team to build a family and a life outside of work.


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Caroline Andrews | Giles Wilson

Caroline AndrewsI am extremely flattered to have been nominated for this award but this also reflects the team ethic that we produce at the firm. I started working in law because I wanted to help families get through their most difficult moments, and my developing practise of fertility law was a natural result of that.

Through my work for the charity Verity, I have come into contact with tens of thousands of women who have personal health issues which make starting a family quite a lot more complicated than it should be. The law in this area is rapidly developing, and so through my firm I am privileged to have been able to help families understand these issues in my region. I started initially as a paralegal, and over the past 8 years I have developed to a Senior Associate with responsibilities for overseeing many younger members of staff. I am grateful for the role I have in training these , as I am able to demonstrate to them how powerful good legal representation can be in protecting and mending families.

This year I have had a paralegal specifically working on my case load and it has been fantastic in watching how with care and attention from myself as her trainer, she has developed her legal understanding of family law cases; as well as the changes in her own confidence. Both this firm and the charity I volunteer for place an emphasis on self awareness of matters to then be able to access the right professional support, and I engage in this through our social media outlets.


Tara Rajah | Allen & Overy

Tara RajahTara is a Senior Associate at Allen & Overy and advises on corporate and commercial transactions. In the last six months alone, Tara’s work has ranged from leading on cross-border deals from $500m-$2billion in value, to providing technical support for UK start-ups. Her clients describe her as “very composed and clear in a difficult atmosphere” and “prompt, hardworking, polite, competent, structured, responsive and most importantly has a positive mindset”. Her team describes her as a personable and approachable "rock" even when stretched. Tara qualified mid-financial crisis, and these personal attributes have been invaluable in building and maintaining her practice in complex and volatile environments.

Tara is a keen violinist and participant in her firm's charity musical productions. Tara’s contributions to her colleagues and to her firm’s initiatives extend much further: she sits on a committee responsible for organising thought-provoking forums for associates, is a pro-active member of the firm’s innovation group and is an enthusiastic organiser on her department’s social committee.

In her spare time, Tara is an avid traveller, having been to over 40 countries, and living and working in the US (New York) and Asia (Bangkok). As a complement to her international experiences, Tara previously established and ran a dining club, which she used to explore different cuisines available within London and as a vehicle to fundraise for charities such as the Consortium for Street Children. Her pro bono and community work has also included advising the Red Cross on disaster management legislation, volunteering at Dress for Success (now Smartworks) and mentoring students as part of the Smarter Futures E-Mentoring Scheme.

Tara holds a Law degree from Cambridge University. Last year she was awarded a Masters with Distinction in Finance and Financial Law from the University of London, achieved through part-time study in parallel to her client work.